Some Bad News
Loueen cared for Vanessa during her stay in isolation;
walking her, feeding her and keeping her company. A few days later, she was
transported to her new foster home with Laurie. She loves people and she and
Jude, Laurie's male foster dog, got along like they'd been together forever.
Things were finally looking up for Vanessa.
Unfortunately, her happiness was to be short lived. Within a week, we
received a call from the foster mom that Vanessa had collapsed and no longer
had use of her rear legs. Laurie, of course, was devastated. With help, she
rushed her to the vet where Vanessa had an x-ray of her spine that didn't
show anything wrong. The vet told us that we could move conservatively and
admit her on IV steroids for the night, take her home with oral steroids, or
have her PTS. She was just too sweet not to try to help her even though
she's a senior dog. We decided on the IV steroids, but the next day Vanessa
was not improved.
Vanessa was released and needed someone who could care for a dog whose
entire rear end was paralyzed. Fortunately, Donna agreed to take Vanessa
even though she was caring for Millie, who also has paralyzed rear legs.
On Tuesday, June 17, 2008, I picked up Vanessa from Laurie, who was
physically unable to care for a paralyzed dog. While I was sitting next to
Vanessa at her home, I looked over to see Vanessa had just been incontinent.
I still had Millie at the time, who was home, and I wondered if I would be
moving from one permanently disabled dog onto the next. In being completely
honest with myself and with the rescue, I also had a lot of feelings of
guilt, knowing that Millie was coming to the end of her battle, and feeling
like I had prematurely taken in her 'replacement'. I was certain I could
handle things physically, but emotionally, I wondered if there was room in
my heart yet for a second disabled dog, and wondered if any of this would be
fair to Millie, me, or Vanessa. But at the same time, this was an urgent
situation, and I knew Vanessa's best chance, and maybe her only chance,
would be with me. So with caution on all fronts, I agreed to take her, with
promises of help from the rescue.
As it turns out, Vanessa was probably the best thing that could have
happened to me and Millie. Having Vanessa, a recently paralyzed but
otherwise healthy senior, lying side by side with Millie, who was in her
final stages of DM, widened my eyes more. For several days, as I watched the
two together, I kept thinking about how 'Vanessa IS what Millie WAS'. She
was paralyzed yet she could hold herself up straight, she could drag herself
all over the place, she could turn herself around in her bed easily. I
sobbed as I watched Vanessa slide herself across the room to the water bowl
to take a drink, then watched as Millie leaned her head out and grabbed her
water bowl with her teeth to pull it toward her in a moment of dire thirst.
That was THE defining moment, when I caught her eye, and saw the LOOK, and
suddenly I realized that Vanessa was part of the plan all along.
In my human way of analyzing things, Millie totally accepted Vanessa, unlike
any other dog that had crossed her path. There were no barks, and no harsh
body language. There seemed to be some sort of peace and understanding
between them, and they seemed to communicate quietly with each other, as if
they shared special doggie secrets even I wasn't privy to. Or maybe it was
my wishful thinking, that Millie would help me prepare Vanessa for her new
life as a paralyzed dog, and Vanessa would help me see what I needed to see
in order to have peace of mind when I let Millie go.
"Just smack your lips like this, Vanessa, and mom will bring you water right
"Keep your eyes open on every adventure and you will discover many new
"Thank-you for being such a great friend."
"Never ever will I ever forget you."
"This isn't working today."
"I HATE THIS DISEASE!"
"Anyone got a miracle in their pocket?"
"I believe all our miracles have been used up, Millie."
"Hey Millie, this paralysis stuff is rough, how did you get through it all
"Don't worry, Vanessa, I'll be watching over you..."
"Mom, I'm very, very, VERY tired now..."
"Vanessa will keep you company now, while I rest."
"BUT, make no mistake, Nannie Millie shall live on!"