I have a wonderful loyal friend that I spend almost every minute of my life with. It’s my little 7 lb toy poodle, Abby. Last year when I knew I would be spending so much time at home, Tony and I decided to get a dog when we sold the house and moved. We already have our mixed breed Jackie. It’s not advisable to bring in a new indoor dog while trying to sell a house, so we weren’t going to. We live close to a no kill pet placement center so we went over to look around. There were so many cute dogs and especially several full breeds. We found out they came from a dog hoarder. As cute as they all were, they came from a really bad situation. They we never socialized with people at the crucial early puppy stage.
Amidst all the cute dogs, my eyes kept leading me to a specific kennel with two dogs in it. A trembling little chihuahua and a tiny little poodle that was fiercely protecting it. She was no typical cute little poodle. she was clean but had obviously had a bad haircut and exhibited everything we didn’t want. We looked at other dogs, beautiful well mannered mixed breeds, as well as some full breeds registered with papers. A full breed or mutt dog never mattered to us. We’ve always had medium or large mutts, I tend to prefer mutts. I’ve heard all the horror stories of puppy mills that I certainly didn’t want to contribute to. We went ahead and filled all the paperwork out and went through the approval process the placement center has so we’d be set when we moved. We still haven’t moved.
Just for something to do and a way to help the volunteers, we stopped by to pet the dogs. I noticed the poodle was missing. I was told she was staying at a foster care house, and to come back tomorrow and the foster mother will bring her in. I thought why not? All these dogs needed all the attention they could get. We came back the next day and went to a private area outside with the foster mom. She told us Abby was house trained, she was fine with other animals but didn’t like strangers coming in. Little Abby seemed uncomfortable and wouldn’t really let us pet her much. She was very untrusting. I still couldn’t stop feeling drawn to her. By the end of the visit, I was able to hold her and there was that magical connection that I know you dog lovers know exactly what I mean.
I wanted to take her. I knew she would go fast. I told Tony I really hope I find another connection or by some miracle she is still there when we sell. Which we thought would be soon. We decided not to keep going to shelters of any kind because we just wanted to take them home. So we agreed to wait until we were ready to adopt. I thought that was that.
I am very well in tune to Tony and when he’s up to something. After a doctor’s appointment a few days later, he suggested we stop by the Pet Placement Center. I didn’t argue, I loved going, it was just hard to leave sometimes. When we got there Tony casually asked about the little poodle. The director said she had been adopted. My heart sank even though I knew they didn’t let just anybody take her. Some other things were said while I was planning to give some dogs a little attention. Then the director came over and handed me a file. I opened it to see we were the people who adopted her. Tony had been getting everything finalized for adoption and had them in on the secret. I couldn’t believe Tony pulled this off but I was too overwhelmed to think
of it. She was put in my arms and that was it. While at The Pet Placement Center she had been spayed, had a micro-chip placed and a wound treated from being crowded into a crate, living in her own and the other dog’s feces. Her teeth had been cleaned, all her shots and she was started on monthly heart worm treatment. She had also received lots of love just like every other animal there.
Now Abby stays by my side unless Tony is taking her outside or feeding her. She finally loves and trusts Tony, but she stays with me. Her behavior is great when out in public. We do have problems with visitors in the house. We’re working on that.
I know she senses something is wrong with me, she watches me struggle. She protects me in the same way she did that chihuahua. We learned that dog was in bad health and had heart worms. So Abby made it her business to protect her.
I don’t want her to feel the need to protect me and most importantly I don’t want visitors to have a dog going in for the kill if they make a move she sees as a threat. She’s tiny but she can look vicious. We have started a new plan to stop her of that behaviour. We have to stick with it to work, but she will be taken away from me for a few minutes every time she lunges at someone now. I know she’ll overcome it. She has overcome a lot and she is very smart.
There is one thing I think about at times. Right now I can love on her. It’s not easy to move her around with my weak right arm but I can pick her up with my left. I pet her so much. There will come the day I can’t anymore and I wonder how that will affect her. When I have a bad day, I imagine her distancing herself from me, but no, I know better. She will stay by my side. She will put her little warm body on my cold hands to warm them like she does my right foot sometimes. She will be with me until the end and then she will be there to support Tony. They’ll both be in good hands.
She notices everything about me. When I first started using my Trilogy 100 ventilator, she was a little hesitant of it. Now When I put it on she positions herself so that she can see the numbers like she knows what they mean. The air coming out doesn’t bother her anymore either. She seems to know I need it so she’ll let the air hit her in the face. I do always try to direct it away from her though. If I’m having a bad day she will gently paw at me then snuggle up closer and stare me in the eyes. It melts my heart and before I know it my attention is on her.
My main message here is to never understimate the ability of a dog to help you through any hardship, including ALS. With the challenges of ALS, it may not be best for everyone. I’m lucky I have Tony to take care of all things dog. Twice a day feedings, letting her outside, often in the middle of the night. She has to be groomed regularly. It is a responsibility for sure. If there is a willing dog caretaker for you, and you love dogs, find the right one and it’s better than anything else available for ALS right now.
Here is a link to the no kill Pet Placement Center we adopted Abby from: http://www.thalppc.com/
Until next time, take care,