I retreated to bed early last night. My body and thoughts were consumed by muscle aches and chills. I worried more about writing this post than I did staying up to watch election results; one outcome I could control, the other I couldn’t. With the thought I could post a “Wordless Wednesday” post, I made my decision. I needed rest and my body demanded it, so I kissed my husband, daughter, and our old Beagle, Sammy, good night before I crawled under the covers with a heating pad.
Our 13 year old Beagle cocked his head and watched me as I made my way out of the room. Concern and confusion filled his eyes. He always senses when something is off, be it physical or emotional, with any of his humans, and last night something was “off” in both arenas for me. Physically, I think exhaustion was taking its toll. Emotionally, I was worried. Yes, the early election returns were worrying me but more so, I was worried about him, our Sammy, who I knew would face surgery in the morning.
His surgery is both routine, and not routine. He is having some teeth pulled today. Fairly routine in a senior dog. He’s also having a tumor removed. Not so routine, in my world. As an old dog, he developed 2 “fatty tumors” on his chest about 2 years ago. Cells were extracted and the results were as expected; nothing to worry about. Then, last month, I took Sammy in for his “Senior Screen” where they ran blood tests, did X-rays, and various other checks to screen for any developing or existing health problems. I asked for a needle biopsy on the latest “fatty tumor” that had developed on his side and grown faster than the previous tumors. The results showed fatty cells in addition to abnormal cells and we were advised to have it removed for a full biopsy. My heart sank, but there were other health concerns that needed to be addressed first. A round of antibiotics for a suspected UTI, a follow-up test and cultures cleared, and we were back on the road to today.
His eyes were filled with both hope and doubt when I picked him up to place him in the car today. His body frail with severe arthritis but his spirit still young, he forgets his limitations often and struggles against the aid to get up and down from locations higher than the Aerobed we leave set up for him in the living room. I settled him into the front seat so I could secure him in place with his leash. Before backing out of the driveway, I flashed back to the day we brought him home. This morning, we would return to the place our journey began, our vet’s office where 8 years ago his first family decided he was an inconvenience and they didn’t want him anymore, where 8 years ago, he chose us, really chose my girls, and my girls chose him.
We were only casually looking for a dog at that point. Our vet had a family who had a Mastiff they couldn’t keep. “Were we interested,” they asked.
Now, a brief history with our vet might clarify their request. We had already adopted 2 cats from our vet. They joined our menagerie of rescued animals including 2 other cats, 2 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs, a snake, an Egyptian uromastyx, and a few rats, a newt, and a skink that we did purchase. We often joke our vet knew we were suckers when I paid $25. for a tumor removal on a rat that cost $2.99. Animals, I’ve always believed, offer some of the best lessons in responsibility and compassion and, being a homeschooling family, we had the necessary time to dedicate to all the members of our zoo.
Well, long story short, the Mastiff fell through and we met Sammy by chance on a visit. It was love at first sight. He licked and snuggled with my girls the moment they sat down. Sure, he liked me and my husband, but he LOVED them immediately and despite my doubts (I was always a big dog person, having grown up with German Shepherds), he quickly became an integral part of our family. We often joke that Sammy is the Beagle that never looked in the mirror. He rarely barks or howls like a typical Beagle, making it easy to share a home with him. He is incredibly patient and loving to all the household members, including the rabbits (while they were alive) and bonded closely with one of them. He has been a patient (most of the time) mentor to the Guide Dogs for the Blind puppies we raise. And, he beats the suction of our Dyson vacuum cleaner every time! (OK, in that respect, he is all Beagle.)
As I’ve taught my girls, when we open our homes to bring in animals, be it a $3. rat or a high dollar designer dog, we make a commitment to care for and love them. We promise to meet not just their basic physical needs, but their emotional needs and to offer them the best physical care we can afford, and if you can’t afford the expensive unexpected vet bills, maybe it isn’t the right time for a pet. Today’s bill will be expensive. I know that. I knew it going in. However, 8 years ago, I made a promise to a spry Beagle with a heart ready to love me and trust me, and when I looked into those big brown eyes this morning, I knew I was keeping my promise.
It’s Wordless Wednesday, but the love I feel for that old man Beagle of ours is worthy of words on this 5th day of NaBloPoMo.