Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cash: One Reader's Story...


"I grew up in a house full of cats. Every Christmas and birthday I or one of my siblings would beg for a dog. We got promised once an elusive fence was built around the house, then (and only then) would we get a dog.

I fantasized about owning a dog growing up. I visited the SPCA with my mom several times, and came away with more adopted cats whom I loved….but no dog. My close friend worked a summer cleaning up her backyard in exchange for the responsibility of a pet. She adopted a mutt named Sheena who we spent hours with, and Sheena’s goofy antics only revved my love for canines.

Last year I turned 21. I was living on my own, working, and living in an apartment where dogs were loved. I felt excited that the time had finally come for me to get a lifelong friend. I scoured craigslist, read blogs/books about raising dogs, and learned the different temperaments amongst breeds.

I decided to visit a young puppy pitbull posted on craigslist. It wasn’t really how I imagined meeting my future dog. They asked me to meet them at KFC which was weird. And I was mortified that I was about to meet a dog hoarder or breeder. It turned out to be a family who did not have enough money to spay their female dog, and as a result had many puppies they could not afford to keep.

When I saw the puppy my heart melted. He was well fed, but covered in fleas. He had no collar, and after the family left I just sat with him on the curb holding him. He was scared. A truck driver saw us, and pulled up. The driver pulled a collar and leash from his truckbed and handed it to me. He didn’t want anything in return, and I was instantly initiated into the world of loving dog owners.

Dog owners and lovers are dog protectors for life. I felt that I had joined a family, and the next few months would only strengthen those feelings.

I named the puppy Cash, after Johnny Cash. He was a blue nose pitbull mix, and adorable. His coat was a silvery blue, and his demeanor was sweet and mischievous. We worked on socialization together. I am a typically shy person, but when your dog is licking someone’s face at the dogpark social barriers relax. We went on long walks by the ocean, and met many admirers of Cash.

He learned potty training after many weeks of picking him up mid-pee on the carpet and sprinting to the lawn. He learned sit, stay, and shake. I crate trained him, and slept with him in the bed. It was some of the best days of my life, and I felt closer to this animal that I was raising than many friends I had known for years.

Everything was great. Until one day at work I had an accident.

I lifted a box of wine, and herniated a disc. The following months were painful, and I could barely walk. Our walks grew shorter and shorter. I had friends take him out for long walks, and my heart was broken when he looked at me expecting me to jump up and go with him.

My disc got so bad that I had to have surgeries. I am still undergoing spinal fusions today. And at the beginning it was soul crushing to see how my diminished quality of life was affecting my sweet, beautiful dog.

I talked to my veterinarian, and she suggested that I look for a new home for Cash. It ripped something deep inside my heart to even consider letting my dog- a member of my family- out of my life. I dismissed the idea for a few months.

I had great neighbors who would offer to take him for walks when I couldn’t. I spent months hobbling after him with my cane as he pulled the leash wondering why we weren’t allowed to run anymore. I went through a period of pain so severe that all I could do was cry in bed during back spasms. I couldn’t sleep with Cash anymore because of the fraility of my spine. I put his crate on the bed everynight so that we could still be next to each other.

One morning he peed on the carpet. Not because he wasn’t trained, but because it took me so long to get to the door. It was then that I knew I didn’t have a choice. Cash deserved better than what I could offer him.

I began the long process of re-homing. I screened many people, and some were just plain shady. My vet gave me a checklist, and adoption forms. I waited patiently to find someone right, and it took two months.

His name was Mike. He had recently lost his pitbull to a horrible illness. I had lost a cat slowly to feline leukemia, and so we talked about our pain. He was much older than me, somewhere in his late forties. His girlfriend had a beautiful adopted female brindle pit.

They lived on a ranch property surrounded by woods. It was beautiful, and much more open than the apartment Cash was used to. We went over Cash’s vet records, I checked refrences, they took him for a walk with their dog, and we scheduled a pick up.

When the time came I was hysterical. I couldn’t believe he was leaving, and I questioned in my heart if this was right. And if these people would treat him with the unconditional love and respect Cash deserved. I packed his favorite toys, and took him for one last slow walk.

When Cash saw their truck pull up he hopped right in and sat down. Mike and his girlfriend hugged me, as I tried to hold it together until they drove away. They invited me to visit anytime, and I told them if ever something went wrong I would come get Cash in a second."


"It’s been almost six months without Cash. I still feel sadness whenever I think about him, but Mike sends me updates and pictures from time to time. Cash went to his first lake the other day, and learned to swim by running and haphazardly jumping fearless into the deep end. I still have his puppy picture in my wallet, and I kept his first collar.

I am in and out of hospitals dealing with my injuries today. And I know that I made the right choice for Cash’s health and happiness. I hope someday in the future to have another dog in my daily life, but Cash will always be in my heart. I don’t regret any of the time we spent dancing together, or running sloppily on the beach after seagulls. He taught me about selfless love." ~Melissa

Thanks for sharing, Melissa. One of my reasons for doing this blog is because I'm hoping that readers will send in their stories to share with all of us dog lovers. There are so many wonderful dog stories out there. I have received some that I have chosen not to share because I questioned their legitimacy. This one I'm sharing and I hope to do so again in the future. So spread the word and share your dogs! ~KS

1 comment:

Trailboss said...

I believe that dogs are God's gift to mankind. I have been lucky to have dogs all of my life. Always had boxers, have 2 now. They bring so much joy and happiness and unconditional love to me and my family. I can't imagine how difficult it was to find Cash a new home but you know what? You love him that much. It is part of the deal. The deal that we do what is best for those that we love. It's not always what we want, but what is best for them. I admire the strength you showed with your heart dog. I also love that Mike keeps you updated oh how Cash is doing. He and his girlfriend are obviously part of the wonderful family of dog lovers.

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