Saturday, May 17, 2008

Today the temperature reached 93 degrees and that's when I stopped paying attention.

We were planning to enjoy this sun-shiny weekend in the city, running errands and mostly with the purpose of picking up our new foster Boxer sometime in the afternoon. For a little more than three weeks I've been working on this case, coordinating to take in an almost eight year old female Boxer whose family was trying to "do the right thing" by finding her a new home where she would be better tended too, but who absolutely adored her at the same time. Cheyenne, as she is called, was described over the phone as a wonderful family dog who adores children and has always been pretty healthy for a Boxer, but has been left at home for often fourteen or sixteen hour days due to the owner's work schedules.

Hans and I did our own thing for a couple of hours, shopped, met with a friend, had some lunch and then met Cheyenne's owner at the ferry dock in Seattle to pick up Cheyenne and her things. We had left our boys at home with a scheduled visitor to let them out do to the weather changes and concerns for them over heating while we bummed around town waiting for the pick up time. Cheyenne's owner was a delightful woman who had her four year old twins in tow after they both came down with eye infections last night and couldn't be left with a sitter for the day. There's a husband out there somewhere, but he's in the navy and has just recently been deployed, another reason for re-homing their beloved dog. We made our introductions very briefly and then I began poking around the cab of their truck looking for a Boxer who was surprisingly not showing her excited face through the window. When the owner opened the back window and dropped down the tailgate, we found the dog extremely overheated and completely unable to move, barely getting her breath as she hung her head off of her bed.

Now, Boxers are notorious for being sensitive to the heat and it's not the first time I've seen this kind of display after a bit of time in the Summer sun with one of my dogs, but we were unnerved a bit by how serious this "episode" seemed. I tugged at Cheyenne's collar and attempted to get her to rouse and come out of the truck, but she would have let me drag her two miles before she ever got up and walked an inch on her own. I was asking the owner repeatedly if she has seen Cheyenne like this before, "this overheated" and was she sure she had come out of it after being "like this?" The owner insisted she had. The only way to transport Cheyenne to our vehicle however, was to carry her so that's what Hans and I did. We lifted her out of the bed of their truck and maneuvered her as carefully as possible onto the backseat of the Cooper so we could get out of the heat and try to restore her to her usual self. Cheyenne's owner had brought us everything she owned for Chey and we couldn't even fit all of it in the back of the car. Dog bed, dog bowls, toys, biscuits, collars, leashes, paperwork, brush... A few tears on her behalf, our promise to take good care of her and to be in touch. Then goodbye.

Heading back up north to catch a ferry, we kept a close eye on our passenger and blasted the AC until I had an ache in a couple of my joints. She seemed to improve, but then again, something was horribly wrong. We made it all the way to the ferry terminal and then pulled out of line and started racing for the emergency room. Cheyenne's tongue and gums were black-cherry purple and her breathing didn't seem to be doing anything for her. By this time I had spent more of my drive home riding backwards in my seat than forwards because I kept having to hold her head up to keep her from closing off her airway any more. We made it a mear two miles before she took her last breath. One big breath and then she was gone. I could not believe it. Poor Hans is driving along, worried sick and I have to announce, that's it. I cannot tell you how heartbroken we were/are and to have to call the owner still... oh my. At the very same moment we were both thinking, why does this happening to us? Is it because we can handle it? Is it a sign to stop trying?

There was no choice but to follow through to our destination so, that a proper clinic could deal with the remains. The emergency hospital was very gentle with us and kind about our tragic situation. We all speculated that something else might very well have been wrong with Cheyenne which could have exasperated her reaction to the heat or perhaps she had suffered a stroke during the almost hour long ferry ride and then never recovered? I made some executive decisions, paid the bill (oh yes, there's always a bill) and once again we headed for home. Calling the owner was mostly miserable and the whole thing still remains inexplicable, but something happened for the good as we talked. Through her tears and shock, Cheyenne's owner shared with me a bond she had felt with me from the very beginning of our communication and how she was so alone right now- with her husband gone and two little ones at home. The feeling of support and confidence on our part was something she really needed and she couldn't believe that we had just taken care of it... just like that. There were several things she said, but all of them made it extremely clear that we were put in her life for this day to help her, Cheyenne was just a vessel, never meant to be in our home despite the fact that we wanted her to be so very much.

Because of the nature of our arrangement, all of Cheyenne's belongings were in the back of our car. It is not at all outside the realm of possibility that Cheyenne could have become sick and passed away at home this weekend, but then this woman would have been alone with two confused four year olds and many reminders of their beloved pet strewn about the house. At least this way, the children think their pup has gone to a friend's house and the remnants are here with us, donated to rescue. As I unpacked her things I was experiencing Cheyenne's story, beloved pet from the time she was tiny, given all the best for play time, bath time, bed time and more. Bags full of proof that she was loved and adored and that meant something to me who takes it so hard when I see tragedy befall one of these amazing creatures. This wasn't a tragedy, it was her time and I can only hope her family will be comforted and not feel they've let her down. Cheyenne's owner confessed she was hoping we would have kept her and I promised her we would keep another in her honor. I intend to make good on my promise and not to give up on the rescue circuit as you have to be willing to take the bad with the good.

Kiss your pups tonight!


sufferingsummer said...

oh dear Cam I'm so sorry. This had me bawling at 8 in the morning, I was really hoping to make it longer before breaking out the water works but how could I with this story. I'm so glad you were there for her owner, clearly there was a great purpose at work here.

always sunny said...

oh my god.
i dis not see that one coming. you are right, this happens because you CAN handle it. and you handle it correctly, that is the difference. i love you.

Deborah said...

Oh my goodness, I went away for a few days and so much has happened! Sorry to hear about your ordeal. Maybe there is still more good to come!