I didn't realize until today that most people who followed the story of our wonderful girl that we just lost to cancer, Myra, do not know her back story. It's a story that might teach a few things to pet owners, so I thought I'd share.
Two years ago, a day or two after Christmas, I received a message from a friend, saying there was a Cavalier mix that needed to get into rescue. Most of the Cavalier rescues my friends and I work with will not take in mixed breeds, only pure Cavaliers. I said I would be happy to foster the dog, but needed to find a rescue that would be able to put her under their umbrella so she would be able to find an adoptive family when the time came. Treasured Pals Small Spaniel Rescue in Louisiana stepped up to the plate and offered to add Myra to their "list" so they would be able to help us find adoptive parents when the time came. (Sadly, TPSSR is no longer around.)
Myra arrived to my office with her family from Virginia on January 2, 2015. She was a mess. She was extremely frightened, withdrawn, and confused. The father sat in the waiting room with their 4-week-old infant while the mother came into the exam room to fill me in on Myra. She said Myra didn't like their 2-year-old husky puppy that belonged to the husband, so she hid in her crate all the time. She said the husband didn't want Myra in the home any more. She seemed genuinely upset at giving away the dog she had bought at a mall pet store when she was a cute little puppy. On her way out, her parting words were "Oh, by the way, she'll pee on the carpet for spite." And there you have it...the real reason the dog was being given away. No one cared that she was hiding and withdrawn. They only cared that she peed on the carpet. Sigh...
After they left, I finally got a good look at poor Myra. Her skin was bright red, cracked, and thickened like alligator skin. She had horrible infections in both ears and smelled awful. The underside of her legs and body had no hair and she had oozing sores from scratching. When I took an x-ray I found the reason for the accidents on the carpet - a bladder full of stones. This poor dog had been chastised and possibly beaten for something she could not control. I cried for her past, but knew we could give her a brighter future.
Hue and I immediately set out to love this little girl with every ounce of passion we had. We cooked her special rabbit dinners, I removed her bladder stones, and we treated her infections. She gradually started to trust us, but she always went and hid upstairs away from us and the other dogs. She was our silent house guest.
In late March 2015 we were going to a pet expo in Virginia for a weekend. We usually take two or three dogs on every trip and decided it might be good for Myra to be special and not be part of our big crowd for a few days. It was that weekend that really caused Myra to bond with us and show us her true personality. That was the first time we took her shopping for toys. We went to every toy booth in the expo, squeaking every toy, allowing her to purchase each one she pounced on. She was actually quite choosy, which probably had something to do with the pitch of the squeak. She spent all weekend attacking her new squeaky toys and making us laugh.
We had never heard Myra bark or talk. As we were leaving the expo center with all our belongings and three dogs in the truck, we heard barking from the back seat. When I turned to look, I saw it was Myra! She had seen goats for the first time. She was jumping up and down barking with glee! That was the day Myra found her voice and she kept her voice even after we returned home. She became a member of the pack that weekend and started spending time downstairs with the rest of the family. She had finally become "our" dog.
Of course, by that point, we knew Myra would need special meals forever. How many adoptive owners would be willing to cook rabbit stew every week and monitor for urinary infections? It really didn't matter, because we were smitten. There was no way this adorable girl would be going anywhere else. She became my companion, bonding to me over Hue, although she loved him too. I think she had been very bonded to her original owner before the husband came along. (Personally, I would've dumped the guy, not the dog.)
Myra taught us many things during her short stay with us, including how to treat allergies with food, how to keep oxalate stones away, how to shop for squeaky toys, and how to forgive those that let you down. She taught us how to love every day.
She brought together thousands of people around the world, all cheering for one thing - happiness.