Not going out into the garden today. I’ve got to be ready to call the vet at 8 and get Christie in as fast as we can. I know there’s a chance it’s not bad, but I don’t know that I can put her through any more.
Almost 7 years ago today, in those early months of working with basset rescue, I got on the road at 4:30 to follow the rescue director on a 5 hour drive to Winchester, KY. We had been contacted about taking bassets to foster from a puppy mill bust in Pikeville, Ky. Not sure how many breeds the guy had. 157 dogs were taken from there alive. A good deal of them were pregnant. I don’t know how many bodies they found. I know there were drowned puppies in the creek and bones of dogs still tied to trees.
Pat and I had no clue how many dogs we were picking up. We’d been told anywhere from 3 to 7. In our little compact cars, we weren’t sure how we would manage, but between the two of us we were determined to bring home everybody.
Rescue people are amazing, though a bit odd sometimes. Winchester is the location of the Kentucky Lab rescue and Michelle was coordinating rescue pickups from there. Someone had offered a large truck for transport and the dogs had come in at 2 in the morning to her place, dirty, scared, and so confused. By the time we got there at 10, alot of rescues had already picked up their bunch. I think we were all afraid someone would change their mind and send them back.
We picked up 6 bassets, still trying to adjust to the light after living in cramped buildings stuck in crates all of the lives, their feet tender from living on wire, amazed by grass. There was one male, beautiful guy, not much more than a puppy. 5 females, three older, over 7, two younger, between 2-4. Submissive to touch, turning over to show you their bellies, scarred by c-sections used to guarantee delivery dates. All were dirty from living in their own crap and covered in fly bites. And we never hesitated.
Three in each car, we started back. I had an EXTREME submissive, now known as Patience who is still kicking; a youngster, once Piper but now Lou, happily adopted and living the high life outside of Nashville; and the old crabby lady Prudence, who was my foster and now lives happily with my wonderful friend, Sue in Bellingham, Wa.
In the other car, was Queen Isabella, dubbed Izzy, now gone to the bridge; John Henry, the beautiful male who was adopted by his foster mom; and the other young female, Pandora, who became Christie.
Christie came to stay with us after Donovan was born. We were having to quit rescue because we just didn’t have time for it any more with a little one. We were to evaluate her and decide whether or not to put her down. She was neurotic, shook almost constantly, couldn’t be housebroken, submissive to the point of being painful to watch. We spend many hours talking about how to manage her, using what techniques I knew from dealing with emotional/behavior disabled children and what we learned from trainers.
Finally, Scott decided we couldn’t do any more. For every two steps forward, Christie made three steps back. We were tired and frustrated and just didn’t seem to be making a difference.
I was on the phone, making arrangements when he changed his mind. She was happy with us and we’d make it work. We wouldn’t foster any more, but would keep Christie unless just the right person came along. That was fine with rescue. They didn’t know what else to do with her.
With a new attitude, Christie showed improvement. She settled in as best Christie ever could and seemed to find her spot at our house. A few months in, someone applied for her and we took her to see them. It seemed like a match, though we had some concerns, but the people were just in Paducah. Mom and Dad said they could pick her up if it didn’t work.
A week later, Christie was home and Scott and I both said that was it. She wasn’t leaving us again. We had her teeth cleaned and some pulled, which equaled her adoption fee and Christie became ours.
Moving to the new house, putting in a puppy door and a fenced in yard really helped her alot. She was house trained as soon as she could go out on her own. Most days, Christie’s life here has been laying in the yard or the puppy room, playing with the others or being referee while they played. She’s my talkative one and bounces when she barks. Funniest thing I’ve ever seen, just like Prudence does.
In January, she developed a knot on one of her front legs. When we took her to have it looked at, we also found an abscess on the same shoulder. Surgery to open the abscess and remove the knot. Were never sure what the knot was, deciding to just wait and see. We knew that her time was more than likely now limited. Like her mother, we would probably lose Christie to cancer.
Over the last few weeks, Christie’s been much more agitated with the others. This week, she started crying quite a bit when she moved and limping. Christie’s had arthritis for years, so we weren’t too worried. Scott thought she’d twisted a toe and broken a nail, leading to the pain.
Last night, checking her foot again, he realized it’s not her foot, but her abdomen. It’s swollen. No puncture marks, so doesn’t seem to be abscessed. And I know in my heart what happens next.
As best we can tell, Christie’s probably about 10, but she got off to such a rough start and that sticks with them. I feel like we’ve extended her life so many times. I can’t do it to her any more. As much as it hurts, I know what I’m probably going to have to do.
I’m the realist in the family. I always see things as they are, no matter what. Scott’s the optimist, always able to think positively. When I worked rescue, I was the realist. When these decisions had to be made, I made them. I cried the entire time, but it had to be done. I’d get a call from Karen in Louisville because she knew I would look at all sides and do what was best for the dog. She’d tell me what was going on and I’d have to say the word. We’d both cry, but know we had done the right thing. Sometimes, you feel very cruel doing that, especially when people around you are willing to let them linger on a hope things will get better. I can’t do that to them. I love them too much.
So 6 minutes until I make a call and get her into see Jeannine or Reca. 6 minutes until I have to start making those moves to get ready. 6 minutes until we have to fix a place in the back seat for her. 6 minutes for me to prepare for this.
I love you, Christie. I really want you to come home with me. But I’ve got to do what’s best for you, sweetie. I don’t know how to do anything else. You’re in so much pain. I may just have to make it go away. But it’s okay, sweetie. I promise.
It’s 9:50, and it’s over and done. Reca looked her over. No fever, but swollen abdomen and immense pain that seemed to keep her entire body sensitive to touch.
In typical Christie style, it wasn’t easy. Hard to find a vein. Ended up with enough of an injection to get her comfortable, finding a vein and finishing it. She’s at peace now, and I know she’ll be so much happier without the pain. But my house will never be the same without Chrissle-T, the vibrating dog.