To Make Sure We’re Okay being Without Them

For over the past twenty years we have rescued, adopted, fostered, and helped anywhere between thirty-seven and forty dogs. Being an accountant by trade, I am embarrassed at not being able to remember the exact statistics and I’m ashamed for not keeping better records.

The photo above is the area in our house where we display the cremations boxes and photos of the dogs we adopted that have passed on. We also have their photos and of those still living with us around the house.

Though we no longer foster dogs, we continue to rescue them. What stopped us from fostering was the fact we felt love for the dog the moment we met it. Having to let it go to the adoptive family after spending precious weeks or months with him or her in our home hurt too much.

We wanted to adopt them all, but that’s just not possible for us. We’re far from being wealthy and we don’t live on a farm, as you need a huge amount of money and an enormous amount of space to run a rescue the size we had in mind.

Therefore, we do what we can for as many as we can.

All our dogs past and present had different personalities. Some are/were more mischievous and energetic and others are/were calm and relaxed.

I often dream I’m on the sofa surrounded by dogs watching a movie. My husband often dreams he’s playing fetch with several of them in the backyard.

Many of my dreams are fun and filled with things we didn’t get to do when they were alive, like taking them to a dog park. With the highest number of dogs, we had at one time being twelve, trying to keep track of their cantankerous antics would be absolutely impossible.

Bringing them to a beach where dogs are allowed is another frequent, dream I enjoy, as the beach has always been my favorite place. Watching them run around freely without a leash, kicking up sand, splashing around in the water, is a beautiful site.

Though we spay and neuter all our dogs and encourage everyone we know to do the same, I sometimes dream of one of our dogs would have puppies. I’m speaking to her in a soothing matter and wiping her forehead with a damp facecloth. Hours later, there are five puppies. Three are boys and two are girls. I feel like a grandma and my husband a grandpa.

I know the sad cause of this dream. We adopted (more than one dog) that was on death row. As we do with all our other dogs, we took her to our vet for an examination and necessary shots.

About a week later she didn’t want to eat and what we could manage to get her to eat, she vomited is up soon afterward. Concerned, we took her to the vet. Her tests showed her to be pregnant with two puppies. Unfortunately, one died in utero.

We took her home and monitored her closely. One day she passed a lot of blood and we brought her to the vet where she an IV inserted to keep her hydrated. Finally, after 24 hours of exhausting labor, she gave birth to a little girl.

The mama was part Yorkshire Terrier. The puppy was brown with a patch of white fir at the center of her neck. From where the mama dog was found, the papa dog was most likely a pit bull terrier.

For the sake of caution, we left them overnight at the veterinarian hospital. We went that home that night and set up an area in the spare bedroom with a space heater and a soft and comfortable bed and blankets surrounded by a plastic barrier so the puppy couldn’t get into trouble if she woke up and wanted to investigate while her mom was sleeping.

We also kept checking to make sure the puppy was feeding on her mother properly. I had read puppies receive important nutrition and growth hormones within the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours of their lives from their mother’s milk.

I awoke the next morning, went to the bathroom quickly because I’m one who can’t hold it, then immediately went to check on the mama dog and her puppy. The pup was ice cold. I learned canine CPR from a book, but when I picked up the puppy, she was stone cold and solid. Rigor mortis had already set in.

I immediately felt guilty. How soon had she died after we went to bed? I should have slept with them in my arms to be sure the puppy continued drinking. Had the space heater provided enough heat? No, it was not aimed directly at the makeshift crib, as that would have burned both the mother and the puppy. The air flow was set off to the side to prevent them from being hurt.

Saturday, we brought them both, as the vet wanted to examine the mama dog and perform an autopsy on the puppy. Monday, the vet informed me the puppy died of sepsis. She further explained this can be caused by the numerous vaccinations given to a rescue dog, as they are not usually pregnant when found.

The eerie part is that sometimes, especially soon after one has passed, we wake in the morning to see a glimpse of that dog laying or sitting on our bed. They disappear within the blink of an eye.

Sometimes, during the day I hear one of our passed dogs outside or see one in the house walking down the hallway.

Just like parents who love their children equally, we love each dog past and present equally. They are our special furry family members.

We’ve been rescuing dogs for over 20 years: the old, sick, unwanted, and on death row. We do everything possible to fill their remaining lives with love, happiness, and health. I write here on Medium and create jewelry and bookmarks I sell on my website to raise money to pay their veterinarian expenses.
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We’ve been rescuing dogs for over 20 years: the old, sick, unwanted, and on death row. We do everything possible to fill their remaining lives with love, happiness, and health. I write here on Medium and create jewelry and bookmarks I sell on my website to raise money to pay their veterinarian expenses.

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