Monday, December 13, 2010

Hopeful

Usually, I wouldn’t post what I’m about to write on my blog. I worry it might bring readers down, be of little interest to anyone because it’s not writing or book related, or just be too personal. But most of you reading this are writers. You probably understand that sometimes writing it down is therapeutic. So here we go…

Four years ago an American Bulldog sat shivering and sick in a kill shelter in Miami. He was red flagged. Scheduled to be put down at the end of the day because he was a large breed, abused (therefore fearful of humans), emaciated (starved), infested with engorged ticks and fleas, and covered in burns and scars. According to the shelter he was “hopeless.”

Hopeless is a matter of opinion. And opinions can be wrong.

I spoke up for him, and his release papers were signed less than 10 minutes before the shelter closed. Another 10 minutes and his story would have had a tragic and lonely end.

4 years later, most of his scars have healed. He’s no longer scared of people. He gets spoiled with the best quality foods, car rides, squeaky toys, yummy bones, and a sister (part lab/border collie) who gives him kisses every day. He’s the best snuggler in the world, and his tail hardly ever stops wagging.

Far from hopeless.

If I had written about him three weeks ago the paragraph above would have also included “healthy.” Unfortunately, I can’t say that now. The day before Thanksgiving, Rooney had a mass removed.

(Here he is after surgery. So cute. )

Six days later, the vet called and informed me it was cancerous. Over the sound of my heart shattering, I listened to his recommendation for chemotherapy: the pros, cons, risks, statistics, best and worst case scenarios. It left me terrified.

For almost a week I debated whether or not to put him through chemo. I was sure I couldn’t let them inject poison into my baby. Then I was sure I had to do everything I could to give him a fighting chance at beating cancer. Then I didn’t know what to do. I was scared, sad, and lost.

Tuesday we returned to the vet’s office to have his stitches taken out. Rooney was on the table, being forced to lay on his side by the vet and tech. He was confused, shaking, and thrashing around in fear. Then I held his head, pressed my nose against his, locked eyes with him, and promised it would be okay. (The same way I did the first day we met.) He instantly relaxed and held completely still while the doctor went to work.

It was two minutes at the most, but for two minutes we never took our eyes off each other. We were communicating volumes without saying a word. He trusts me. I’m the first person he’s ever trusted, and with that trust he counts on me to decide what’s best for him.

I can only hope that I make the right decisions.

Friday he had his first chemo session. He did great. We’ve been curled up on the couch together all weekend trying to recover; him from the physical damage, me from the stress and worry. Many times we locked eyes again and he’d wag his tail, rest his head on me, or give me kisses.

(Relaxing with his new toy.)

I know I made the right decision to rescue him. I don’t know if I’m making the right decision to do chemo. We’re taking each day as it comes. In the meantime, I’m giving thanks for each day I have with him, and I’m trying to stay positive. Because together, Rooney and I have learned…

where there is love, there is hope.

60 comments:

  1. Oh that was beautiful! I pray he gets well soon! Oh, give him a hug for me :))

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  2. That is an amazing thing you did for Rooney. The world needs more selfless people like you :) I hope he recovers soon!

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  3. Best of luck with the chemo! I hope it works out well for Rooney and he recovers soon. :)

    -- A fellow dog lover

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  4. Thanks for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes. I'll say a prayer for Rooney.

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  5. Beautiful post. This brought tears to my eyes. I hope he recovers soon!

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  6. What a sweet post. I once saved a cat from the humane society. It was due to be put down the next day because no one wanted a cat with a heart problem. Turns out he didn't have anything wrong with him. It was a misdiagnosis.

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  7. Wow. I teared up. This is so sweet. And you are such an awesome person for rescuing that dog! I hope all goes well and he'll recover soon. Hang in there. You'll get through it! =)

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  8. As one who worked in an animal shelter for several years and didn't get nearly enough happy stories like yours, this made me cry. It's always hard to know what the right thing is to do, but for what it's worth, I think you made the right choice. Our animals can be closer and more worthy than many family members and people in general, and if there's any sort of afterlife, I don't want to be there unless it's filled with all the animals that we've all loved and lost.

    Give Rooney a kiss on his adorable jowls for me. I love American Bulldogs. :)

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  9. Karen, beautiful story. I have tears in my eyes. Hope Rooney is on the mend soon. He's so lucky to have you.

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  10. He is so blessed to have you as family. I'll send some prayers your way.

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  11. Okay, I had to stop reading right when I got to his picture. Not because I was bored or distracted but because my eyes were blurry. This blog made me cry! I'm a sucker for animals (four cats, two dogs, a rat and two fish) and I've had one with cancer before. I hope your dog gets better soon! No such thing as "hopeless"! I'm at work so I need to stop crying.

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  12. Beautiful. I love dogs so much I thought I wasn't going to be able to read this post. But I made it.

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  13. This is so heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. I'm glad you decided to post it--for yourself, for Rooney, for us. There's so much we can't control in this world, but we can give love and accept it in return, which you've done beautifully.

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  14. If there are typos in this, it will be because I can't see through my own tears. I hope you and Rooney get through this. I've been down this road with so many animal companions myself.... Right now, I have a bird, a grey cheek parakeet, who just turned twenty-one. He's arthritic and has lost a few feathers, but he's still bright-eyed and spunky. And it will break my heart when I have to say goodbye to him.

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  15. I hope everything turns out okay. Sounds like he has a special spot in your heart.

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  16. This was beautiful...as is the love the two of you share. Rooney has teetered on the brink before, and both times it will be you that saved him. :)

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  17. Such a wonderful testimony of hope. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

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  18. Oh, my, my. You certainly have a touch decision to make, but given your history with Rooney, I can see why you're choosing chemo. The good news is that Rooney will have the best chance of surviving this treatment and coming out strong because he trusts you so much. You're right...where there's love there's hope. I'll be hoping for Rooney's speedy recovery.

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  19. its always hard to know if you have made the right decision, in situations like this......but I am sure with your love and care he will be able the handle the chemo and pull through, and you two will share many more moments of love and caring between you, he looks like a real sweety of a dog......sending wishes of many years of fun times for the both of you, and healing thoughts for Rooneys illness and your heart, I know its hard to deal with things like this.......hugs to you and Rooney

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  20. This post brought tears to my eyes. As a fellow animal lover, I can feel for you in your situation. All you can do is follow your heart. <3

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  21. Ah, I'm so sorry. That's sad. I hope the little guy recovers. I'll be thinking of both of you.

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  22. OMG. What a beautiful story. You absolutely did the right thing. Animals are our babies sometimes. They have no voice and that is amazing that you were his.

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  23. I'm crying as I'm reading this. You are truly a beautiful person for what you did for him. If only the world as a whole loved animals as much, it would be a much better place.

    My heart and prayers go out to you and your family that your four-legged child pulls through and gives you many more years of the joy I know he gives.

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  24. He's a very, very lucky dog and you're a very, very lucky woman.

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  25. The was a beautiful post, and I really need to applaud you for taking in such lucky dog into your life. :) Personally, my world wouldn't be complete without my own little doggies!

    On terms of chemo, I know first hand about cancer in dogs. We lost our first dog Blondie to cancer in 2004. My family loved Blondie, so when we heard she had cancer, my parents took her in to see what they could do. Surgery was the option they chose (although I have no idea if chemo was involved because I was little then). It turned out, Blondie did well, but the cancer came back a couple years later. The same routine basically recycled itself until she was 12 (which is pretty old for her breed). We put her down in the end. It was hard, but she lived a good long life, despite the cancer. Cancer is able to be fought. I'll be praying for your brave little guy! I know how tormenting it can be, but there is most definitely hope.

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  26. Thank you so much for this post, Karen, for reminding us all of the importance of cherishing those we love. My prayers are with you and Rooney. And, yeah, what Simon said.

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  27. Much love and many prayers to Rooney! You're absolutely right...where there is love, there is hope.
    You'll both be in my thoughts.

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  28. Awe. You seriously just made me cry at work. You're such a beautiful woman. Thank you for being a hopeful animal lover. He's so darn cute! I will be praying for his health!!

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  29. This is a wonderful post, and you were absolutely right to do what you have done. My wife and I also had the opportunity to something similar when we adopted an emaciated and abused German Shepherd. Four years later, he is well over the 28 pounds they said he would never go above, he is not as skittish around other people, and he's spoiled with lots of love. We never once have second-guessed our decision, and I hope you do not either. You're doing a great thing.

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  30. What a beautiful story. I hope he does well with the chemo!

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  31. I couldn't stop myself crying. About halfway through, I thought this story was going to end sadly, but I am so relieved to see that Rooney's getting better. Karen, this is such a beautiful post, I'm still welling up. Clearly you are both very lucky to have found each other. You must be connected from a past life, I reckon. "Where there is love, there is hope." I will never forget this. Thank you, angel. x

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  32. I work at an animal clinic and I know lots of dogs do great with chemo. If my dog had cancer and I could afford it I'd do it. I'm so glad you saved Rooney.

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  33. I love dogs! I hope Rooney's chemo does the job and the cancer goes into remission. Big hugs to the both of you. It's going to be a tough road, but hopefully you'll both come out stronger on the other end. More big hugs to the both of you!

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  34. You made me cry which is a bit awkward because I'm at work!

    I hope he gets better!! You'll be in my thoughts.

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  35. Karen I love you so much. I think you've made the right decision and I'm praying for Rooney every night. He's a fighter :)

    xoxoxoxo times a gazillion

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  36. Aw. ((Huge hugs)) For the record, I think you've made the right decision with Rooney. I am hoping for a happy ending to this story.

    Thank you for sharing. :)

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  37. Aw. Poor dog. I can only imagine what that must be like.

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  38. Read your blog and wanted to say thanks for sharing your story. These little critters become part of the family. Glad he has you to take care of him. Keeping you in my thoughts and sending healthy wishes, your way.

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  39. Karen... I am balling. There are tears running down my face and I feel your pain. I have a very strong connection with my cat. If anything happened to her....

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and Rooney!

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  40. So sweet. He's lucky to have such a loving owner.

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  41. Karen, my sister went through a very similar experience. She chose to do Chemo and got almost an extra year with her dog. He was an old dog (15)or her vet believes she would have had even more time. Her dog did awesome after the chemo--he was happier and healthier than my sister had seen him in years. I hope your Rooney does as well and gets a whole lot of extra time with you.

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  42. That poor dog!I hope he gets better with the chemo! I know how it feels like to have your pet go to doggy heaven....it was painful to say the least. She was a chihuahua and everytime I came home from school she would run to me and jump so high that she was able to lick my face...and then she'd follow me around the house with this excited look on her face. What's really sad is that her previous owner was going to put her to death because she was infertile. *shivers*

    Now whenever I come home from school I feel empty because no one greets me at the door anymore. It wasn't untill I got my chihuahua (the first pet I've ever had) that I realized that animals have feelings and emotions just like we do, plus they're extremely smart! :)

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  43. I will pray for your puppy! I've had a ton of animals over the years and a couple that have had cancer. Unfortunately we didn't catch it until there were far too many internal masses to treat (the animals were really old, too). I'm glad Rooney has a chance!

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  44. Awwwwwww. He's so cute! I'm sending you all my hope, too.

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  45. Please give him hugs and kisses!! I understand how difficult is to decide, but I think you just gave him another opportunity. I'm sure if the vet thought there was nothing to do he would have told you.

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  46. I feel for you! My heart aches every time I think of my sweet Dalmation passing. I pray that all will turn out well for you and Rooney.

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  47. I *might* be crying right now...so please pardon the typos. I can;t see the screen.

    He is SO gorgeous! I'm sorry you and he are going through this. But I'm glad you two found your way to each other.
    I have you both in my thoughts and pray for him to go into remission.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Love and *hugs*,
    Lola

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  48. You did a kind thing, Karen. You saved him and you're saving him again. I'll say a prayer for you and your beautiful dog :)

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  49. So sorry to hear about your bully. I'm glad he has a person who loves him so much and is there for him. That is a really, really hard decision. Good luck. :(

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  50. I'm crying. You've never shared the whole story of adopting Rooney. Very touching. You are a dream dog owner. Rooney's lucky to have such a good mommy.

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  51. This made me teary-eyed. I would have made the same decision. I hope Rooney is faring well.

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  53. You are Rooney's Angel and He's your buddy! Blessings this Christmas to you both!

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  54. Awww, poor baby. Hope everything goes okay--thoughts and prayers going out for Rooney. The world could use more caring animal lovers like you. :)

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  55. Oh, bless his big puppy dog heart, and bless yours for what you do for him. What a sweet story...hope he gets better, all better, soon. :)

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  56. I will pray for your puppy.... so sweet story... hope he gets better soon :)
    All the best
    Marinela x

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  57. Rooney is lucky to have someone who cares so much about him in his life, and I hope that everything works out for him.

    -Aaron

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