For over the past twenty years we have rescued, adopted, fostered, rehabilitated, repaired, and re-homed a countless number of dogs. It is with great sadness that over these decades we have had to send almost half of them to The Rainbow Bridge. Some were too sick or injured for treatment at the veterinarian hospital. Others that remained with us that were old or sick and required daily medication or treatment, lived out their final lives with us.
Not everyone wants to adopt an old or sick dog, but to us, their lives are just as important as humans. We consider our dogs part of our family and they come first. When it comes to medication and illness, our dogs come first and my husband and I have sometimes gone without our own necessary medications and doctor visits. That’s how much we love them.
The photo above is the area in our house where we display some of the cremation boxes and photos of the dogs we adopted that have passed on. We have other memorial areas in the house. Also, we have photos of those that have passed on and those still with us all around the entire 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 an adoptive family after spending precious days, weeks, or months with him or her in our home was too painful.
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 about of space to run a rescue operation 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.
Since we spend much time playing with them in the backyard and being surrounded by them while watching television, they come to us in our dreams. Some of our dreams are of things we didn’t get to do when they were alive, like taking them to a dog park. The highest number of dogs we had at one time is twelve. Trying to keep track of their cantankerous antics would be impossible.
Some dogs were blind, quite old, or too sick to enjoy playing, but found comfort in being held against our chest and falling asleep while being petted.
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 having puppies. I’m speaking soothingly to her 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. It’s about one of many dogs we saved from death row. As we do with all our newly rescued dogs, we immediately take them to our vet for an examination and necessary shots.
About ten days later she didn’t want to eat. We called the vet and were advised to feed her boiled chicken and rice, but she vomited is up soon afterward. We took her to the vet hospital. Her test results showed her to be pregnant with two puppies. We took her home, followed the vet’s advice, and monitored her closely.
To our relief, she began eating normally again. Unfortunately, during an examination the following week, we learned one of the puppies died in utero. Several days later, she passed a lot of blood and we rushed her to the vet hospital where an IV was inserted to keep her hydrated. Finally, two days later and after a long and arduous labor, she gave birth to a beautiful female puppy.
The puppy arrived just in time to save her old mom from undergoing surgery in an attempt to save both their lives. We rushed to the hospital upon receiving this wonderful news.
The mom dog was part Yorkshire Terrier. The puppy was brown with a patch of white fir at the center of her neck. They were an awesome sight to behold and I began to cry.
For the sake of caution, we left them at the veterinarian hospital for two more days. When we took them home, we received a complete list of instructions on how to care for the mama dog and her puppy.
Once home, we prepared an area in the spare bedroom, as our bedroom was too small. We set up a human baby playpen with a soft and comfortable dog bed with thick blankets. This insured the puppy couldn’t get far if she woke up in the middle of the night and crawled away from her sleeping mom. Then we turned up the heat and plugged in a space heater for the extra warmth puppies require.
All our other dogs kept going in the room and sniffing around the playpen. We put a child gate in the open doorway to calm the mama dog and to keep our other dogs from getting in the room.
We also kept a close watch on both of them, making sure the puppy was feeding off her mother regularly and that everything was okay. Puppies receive important nutrition, antibodies, and growth hormones within the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours of their lives from their mother’s milk.
When we took the mom outside, she relieved herself quickly and we rushed her back to her baby, limiting the time they were apart to mere minutes.
I awoke the next morning and immediately went to check on the mama dog and her puppy. The pup was 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 was too late. I cried out to my husband and we rushed them both to the vet hospital to make sure the mom was okay and to have the puppy cremated.
I immediately felt guilty. I should have slept with them in my arms to be sure the puppy continued drinking. Did we set the heat high enough? Did the space heater provide enough additional heat? It was not aimed directly at the crib, as that would have burned both the mother and the puppy. The airflow was set off to the side to prevent them from being hurt.
The vet examined the mama dog and performed an autopsy on the puppy. A few days later, the vet informed me the puppy died of sepsis. She further explained this can be caused by the numerous initial vaccinations given to dogs and that it was not our fault. We felt helpless. All we could do was hold her and try to comfort her as she whined in our arms. It was heartbreaking for all of us.
I still blame myself and get sick to my stomach over it. She was the first dog we ever rescued that was pregnant. Ever since then, when we rescue a female dog, we ask the vet to determine if she is pregnant before having her vaccinated.
Still, all these deaths have not deterred us from continuing our dog rescue mission. We will continue to rescue dogs in need as long as we are able.
Sometimes, especially soon after one has passed, we wake in the morning to see a glimpse of that dog laying or sitting on the bed. They disappear within the blink of an eye.
Just like parents who love their children equally, we love each dog past and present equally. They are our furry family members.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Hugs to Everyone! Thank you for reading!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Over 20 years ago, my husband and I began rescuing, fostering, rehabilitating, and re-homing dogs in dire need. They are our furry family and we do everything we can to help fill their lives with love, health, and happiness. We rescue the old, sick, unwanted, damaged, and on death row. Each special soul we save changes us and remains in our hearts long after they’re gone. We have a fundraising account in my profile above to raise money for their veterinarian care. Please visit our Go Fund Me website https://www.gofundme.com/tr796d-dog-haven?member=1560512 if you would like to help us help them. Thank you.