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.
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.