My Lucky Dog

Yesterday I lost my best friend. He was short, furry, and walked on four legs. His name was Lucky, and he was quite possibly the best thing that ever happened to me.

We first adopted Lucky when I was about 10. He was about 3.

At first he was a difficult dog. He had terrible separation anxiety and would destroy things when we were away. If put in a crate, he would break out at all expenses, often hurting himself in the process. After a chipped tooth, some scratches, and a burst blood vessel, we decided we could not keep him. He was too much work, and he was only doing harm to himself. He would be better off elsewhere. So, after a few weeks of having him, I said goodbye one morning as I headed off to school.

I don’t remember feeling particularly upset that morning, perhaps because I knew all along that my mom would never actually take him back that day. Sure enough, he was still there when I got home. We struggled through those first few months, but we soon realized that for him, it was completely worth it.

Never have I met a dog so in touch with human emotions, or so loyal, or so loving. Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and I think that each of these individuals, myself included, are exactly right. Because dogs adapt to you, as you adapt to them. We learned to deal with his anxiety, and in turn he learned to deal with our family’s ups and downs.

In actuality, his anxiety disorder fit in perfectly with our family. I, myself, have long struggled with a Panic Disorder. Many of the worst years were around the time when we first adopted Lucky. Somehow, he was able to help me during my attacks. The comfort of having him near. He would give me kisses, wag his tail, he would stay by my side. He was the perfect companion.

He was loyal to our whole family. He trusted us to do what was best, and that is why I know that we did the right thing yesterday. For months, he’d been struggling. His joints were stiff and he was losing muscle mass. Just getting off the floor became a trial. He wasn’t always sure of where he was. He would get confused, walk into corners, wander aimlessly. But, most importantly, he had stopped wagging his tail.He no longer found joy in his daily life. The look in his eyes was one of helplessness and confusion. He was waiting for us to decide what to do.

The night before we made our decision, he had multiple accidents in the house, each time falling down into his own waste because he could no longer hold himself up. We knew it was time. Perhaps past the time, but we could no longer delay the inevitable.

As my mom said, he would have soldiered on forever if we had asked him to. He would have stayed by our sides until ever joint ached and he could no longer walk. He was loyal, and loving, and miraculous.

He came with the name Lucky, but over the years I’ve realized how perfectly the title suited him. Not necessarily because he was lucky to have found us, but because we were lucky–extraordinarily lucky– to have found him.

My whole heart aches, and I’ve fallen victim to random bouts of crying these past 48 hours, but I know that what was done was for the best. I know that he loved us so completely, and he gave us 12 wonderful years of that love, that we could ask for no more.

I’ll never get over him. He was my childhood, my best friend, my family member, my constant companion, my pillow, my cuddle buddy, my soother, my therapist, my playmate, my dog.

And I was so goddamn lucky to have him.

 

 

Advertisements

Social media gives animals a voice

I’m the person that has to change the channel when the ASPCA commercials come on. You know the ones–  heartbreaking photos of downcast animals pass across the screen as you find yourself being serenaded by a sad Faith Hill song. The few times I’m managed to get through these ads, I’ve found myself with wet cheeks and a sniffly nose. The humane treatment of animals, as well as shelter-adoption are two issues I feel particularly strong about. Both of my own dogs came from the local shelter, and for the past few years I’ve been volunteering at an animal shelter near my school.

I came across an article today regarding the impact social media is having on pet adoption. In particular, two Nevada animal shelters have taken to the web in an effort to give their animals a voice (of sorts).

At the Nevada Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Doug Duke has instituted an interesting use of online communities. Despite a small staff, limited budget, and overflow of animals, Duke has taken to posting about the  adoptees on the organizations blog, tweeting about/from the animals, and even posting biographies to Facebook. Duke notes that every animals at the shelter has a history, and it’s important for potential pet owners to learn this back story:

“The posts require disclosing the animals’ flaws, such as not being good with children or other pets, but that information helps potential adopters find an animal with the right personality so it can join what Duke calls a ‘forever home.'”

Perhaps Duke’s most unique use of social media is features heartbreaking and adorable messages from the ‘pets’ themselves.

A cat named Princess Ashlyn took to Facebook to post some of her latest pictures alongside the caption: “I will be sure to let you know how much I love you every day.”

2-year-old Chihuahua, Donna asked: “What is it like to sleep in a bed and have toys to play with?”

And 4-year-old Chachito, also a Chihuahua, got more personal when he mentioned how his previous abandoned him in a crate on the side of the road: “I trusted and loved them, but they threw me away.”

Duke’s creative use of first-person(/animal?) messaging stems from his firm belief that “The last thing anyone wants from an animal charity is to hear a person.” Adopting a pet is a very personal experience. Everything is dependent upon the relationship you forge with your potential new pet. This Nevada shelter is eliminating the middle man, or just the man/woman in general. Duke’s plans seem to be working, with a 5% increase in pet adoption seen over the past year, as well as a dramatic increase in twitter followers and Facebook friends.

Another Nevada shelter has also engaged in social media for their adoption campaign. The Animal Foundation at Lied Animal Shelter has focused on educating people as well as contributing to adoption rates. Once a week, their Facebook page features “Furry Friday”– posting the pet of the week. The organization reports that on average, by the end of the day, that animal has found a home.

The Animal Foundation has also taken to creating profiles for their pets, including Maximus the cat, who needed money for surgery. Through Facebook, the Foundation was able to raise the funds necessary.

The support of the online community for animal shelter adoption is overwhelming. It raises awareness on a whole new platform. Says Duke of the use of social media and its benefits:

“Before, people could donate, volunteer, adopt, foster; now, they can help spread the word…It initially didn’t occur to us that all these people could become warriors for the animals.”

As a sign off for this post, I just want to remind everyone to please think adoption first when looking for a new pet. You could be saving the life of your new best friend.

 

 

 

Snowbound with Dogs and a Camera

Tomorrow I head back to school and another semester of work begins. Due to my increased scholastic activities, it may prove difficult for me to update this blog as frequently as I have been doing over this snowy winter break. Then again, my procrastination skills are quite excellent, and I might very possibly turn to this blog as another way to avoid a dreaded assignment (oh, fear not– I always get the work done. And done well. Usually the procrastination comes very early on in the process. I’m actually a geek who likes to get things done both timely and well). Now that I have issued this warning, I want to take a brief moment to share some more “personal” things with you. Mainly, my dogs. You see, this morning we had a minor medical scare with my older dog (Lucky, the younger one is Nola). He’s pretty up there in years, which means that every minor abnormal behavior can sometimes give us a scare. His being older also means that this dog has been around the majority of my life– he grew up with me and he’s just as special as a human family member. Long story short, everything turned out okay. One emergency pet hospital visit, an x-ray, and some medication later, Lucky is the same old dog.

Concurrent with these happenings, I’ve recently acquired a new camera. A digital SLR (Canon, of course) that was a combined Christmas (late) and Birthday (very early) present. It has quickly become my favorite new possession, but due to so many snowbound days, my photographic subject matter has been limited. Luckily, I happen to live with two adorable dogs who somehow had the patience to sit through picture after picture with a camera in their faces. I’ve just uploaded the photos and I feel like I have to share(*Note: still learning to use the camera so don’t be too judgmental about the quality of my pictures). So, in honor of Lucky feeling better and my new camera– Enjoy!

This is Nola. Her puppy-dog eyes means she gets pretty much whatever she wants, including a couch all to herself. In this picture I just imagine her saying, "Go ahead, try to say 'no' to me."

 

This is Lucky. He gave up caring long ago about what you might think of his grey (white) hair. He's an old man, but I still call him my puppy.

 

 

They pretty much think they own the house (and all the furniture within it).

 

 

She is disgustingly photogenic. And adorable.

He loves staring out the back patio door, but someone forgot to open the sliders. He doesn't let that bother him.

Nola is a hound dog of indeterminate breed. Needless to say, she howl. Lucky never used to howl, but when we got Nola a couple of years ago, he picked up on it. Now they howl in unison.

Dogs are incredible. Their unconditional love is a precious gift. These two are the best.