For the love of the dogs or My real Story

I would like to take some time out from hating to test publish this before I submit it to some real world publications,

Please let me know what you think;

For the love of the dogs or My real Story

My story began 30 years ago with a red cropped and docked male Doberman pinscher.   The Nubian Sundancer, he was called, and my parents swore he had papers.  This dog was one of my first memories.    Unfortunately he was sent away when I was little, but I always begged to go see him, wherever he was.   It wasn’t until I was about 14 years old that I realized that there was no way that Sundance could be alive.  But by then it was too late, I was obsessed with dogs.  I begged my parents relentlessly all my life for a dog (or to go get Sundance back), but my family is prone to allergies so the answer was always no.  I made posters, and PowerPoint presentations about dogs–all dogs, but especially big dogs.  Eventually, my mother got a miniature poodle.  I was not entirely pleased, as I thought there would be lassie or snoopy sharing my bed with me.  But, this was what I could get given the circumstances and Alex, as she was called then, was not a bad dog. Still, she was no Sundance and she always preferred my mom anyway.  Fast forward to freshman year of college.  I was walking through campus one day and I saw a woman walking her dogs.  I sheepishly approached her and asked if I could pet them. We immediately hit it off, and I told her all about my family’s odd history with animals (my grandmother always had indoor pets even though my mother was allergic; I abandoned my dog allergies after puberty) and how one of my main goals in life was to have an amazing dog.  She told me about how she volunteered every Sunday and asked me if I wanted to come.  I did, of course, and that was that.  For two years, all day every Sunday I was at the shelter. I got some friends to come, and I became obsessed with animal rescue.  All breeds, all kinds, male and female. I swore I was going to take every last one of them home if they weren’t adopted.  Luckily, every dog I bonded with found a loving and happy home.  For two years I got to volunteer and not even worry about office politics, or how difficult home visits could be.  For those two years I had the complete belief that it was impossible to go to a shelter and not leave with a pet.  I specialized in big dogs– german shepards, rottie mixes, Doberman, and of course pitties.  Those were the dogs I worked with.  The harder the case, the harder I bonded.

Unfortunately during my third year of volunteering I had to leave college.  I didn’t have  a driver’s license and, no longer being near campus, I wasn’t able to keep up with the volunteer schedule.   However, I decided to foster. I got a job slinging coffee so that I could live in one of the most expensive apartments in the area because they allowed pets.  I raged at my roommates and begged and argued and threatened until they agreed to foster a dog.  His name was Chuck and he was a black German Shepard mix.  I went through hell with my first adult dog.  Chuckles was 10 when I got him and to be honest I was young and not stable enough.  My roommates were also young and unstable.  Our house soon fell apart, but life happens.  My lease fell through; I was rapidly facing homelessness and was afraid I was going to have to send my dog back to the shelter until I could find someplace to live.  However, I was told in no uncertain terms that even though I was “just a foster” returning a dog means blacklisting.  If I returned Chuck, I could never get any dog from the shelter ever again.  We found a way, my big black wolf dog and I, and eventually I was able to get a higher-paying office job.  In response to my life being pulled together, my dog  also became a wonderful, upstanding, and 10x happier dog.  Honestly, I did it for him, who knows where I would be now if I didn’t have that responsibility to come home to at night.

4 and a half years into my dog ownership, he had laryngeal paralysis.  We tried to treat it with lifestyle changes, etc. No one wanted to operate because he was really old and big, and may not have survived the surgery.  Also, I was poor.  Eventually, it got beyond manageable.  He passed away a few days before his 16th birthday.   The joke that he was so spoiled in my retirement home of a house was over. My dog was gone.  For about three years I was unwilling to consider having another dog.  I felt that I had failed him, that maybe I could have saved him,that I should have insisted upon surgery to save my dog.  I never really got to say goodbye because I never could imagine him dead.  He really was my first dog.  I cry even now because I miss him.  The wondering what I could have done differently will always haunt me.

Even through my sadness I decided to go back to volunteering. I encouraged everyone I knew to adopt! Adopt! Adopt! Hell, I was even an actual dog trainer for awhile.  And then I realized that all of my friends now had pets. I had convinced almost every badass crazy friend I had to be an animal person. I decided it was time.  After three years I decided the best thing to do was to open myself up to a new dog that needed rescued.  I talked to a few people and took a few online tests and the breed that popped up routinely in my top 5 dogs was the Doberman pinscher.  It was then that I remembered the dog that started it all.  This whole time, I just wanted to rescue Sundance.  My dog that was sent away.  The first animal in my life.  The one dog I couldn’t save.  So I latched on to the idea of the Doberman pinscher, red, cropped and docked and my search began.

It was hard… really hard.  Harder than I remember at that animal shelter all those years ago.  The rules were long and the looks I got were horrible.  Little old ladies took one look at me and wouldn’t let me see the dogs for adoption.  I could see the look on people’s faces when I walked in the door.  It was not a pleasant thing.  I moved to try and convince a rescue to give me a dog.  I’m a volunteer!  I rescue animals! I have a good job!  I have references! I trained dogs for a living! I moved into a new house!  I couldn’t bribe my way into a dog.  Why is it that the jerk down the street who doesn’t walk his escape artist dog can get a pet and I can’t?   Around the time I moved into a new house I just figured I would never be able to adopt the dog I wanted.  I was just going to shelters and getting the evil eye.  Maybe I look like a dog fighter?  I didn’t have a fenced in yard, but I would never use the yard anyway. I live walking distance from a dog park.  I have access to fenced in yards for play dates.  I know who the best agility trainers are in the tri-state area.  I’ve had dogs before, why is no one willing to help me at the age of 29-30 in a big house get a dog, but at the age of 22 in an apartment I seemed legit?   I was really frustrated.  And then one Sunday I was interviewing some friends for a documentary in Baltimore, When I found a lady who was about to turn her dog into BARC’s. What kind of dog? Wait for it: A red, cropped, and docked Doberman.  Fates be blessed!  All of that for a reason.  Junior became a part of my life that day.  I got a dog.  Not just any dog–THE dog. I adopted Sundance Archer Griffin Junior.  And he is a handful.

She was not completely forthcoming with his issues (not necessarily dog friendly, leash pulling, barking, no manners, underweight, skittish, pick a feature).  But I don’t care, I’m more stubborn than he is and none of his issues are so bad that we can’t work together to communicate perfectly and be in sync.  I will never give up on him.  I am the most stubborn owner you’ll ever meet.  On that note, I may not always make the best decisions for myself.  2 months and 4 obedience training classes in, my new Doberman puppy collapsed.  Sunday December 22nd 2013.

We immediately took him to an emergency vet who misdiagnosed him with wobblers. We were shocked that this disease was developing in such a young dog, But we were still relieved because we could make a plan to care for him properly.  The first emergency vet gave Sundance pain killers and sent him home.  After eating dinner and his pain killers, Sundance started having full body tremors.  I was incredibly concerned and immediately took Sundance right back to the emergency vet.  They said that this was common for wobblers and that I should give it three days and then go back to my normal vet.  The next morning Sundance wouldn’t eat so I called my regular vet who said Sundance could come in right away.  I just knew something was wrong.  I was crying as soon as I got there.  My regular vet did an examination and said Sundance could be saved but not by them, and it was definitely NOT wobblers.   He sent me to a specialist. My crying continued.  The specialist did their own bloodwork. They  told me he was septic, and it looked like a blockage.  It was very disheartening.  I felt like I had failed another dog.  I had lost so much crucial time with the emergency vet that his chance of survival dropped to 25%.  I sat there in the ER while they kept my dog alive and said “screw it.  Save him”.  I remember looking up and knowing I did not have enough money, but I have a great job, had just gotten a  promotion,  and that I would find a way.  Every time they came in they told me something new horrible, but I said  “Just Save Him” everyt ime, I started texting friends, as the cost went up, “he probably won’t make it, we’re looking at $6,000” “Just save him” I texted my parents “cost is at 10,000 can you open up a line of credit?” “yes, just save him”  “ he needs multiple transfusions” “at this point, just save him”, “you can go home and wait we’ll call you when surgery is over and let you know”  That was the worst eve of Christmas eve of my life.  I kept thinking that if my little underweight puppy didn’t survive it was a sign.  I was meant to enjoy animals from a safe distance.  Another one gone.  No more, the reason I didn’t want another senior dog is because I wanted a dog I could grow old with.  I know its stupid but I wanted 10 years with a dog, I just didn’t want to be the retirement home for at least 5 years.  I just couldn’t handle it.

At 12:01a on Christmas Eve I got the call “he made it! He’s not out of the woods, but he’s doing a lot better, you can come see him tomorrow”.  I don’t know when I have ever cried harder.  I went to see him everyday, I begged from every person available and I am still coming up with the money. He’s a Christmas miracle dog.  He’s a survivor, just like his spiritual father.

I have never had a credit card before, but I have one now.  And as I sit here in my room and look at my poor stapled, drugged, and cone of shamed puppy, this skittish dog, who needs all the training, who whines at other dogs, who loves all the food, and cost about as much as a good used car.  This dog that so many people would not have otherwise given me.  That dog that I have just put my financial future on the line for.  This dog that I have only known for two months. This dog that hogs the bed.  I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I would have jumped in front of a car for him.  And I don’t even care.  And I’m not even mad about the bed.


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