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A Free, 500-Dollar Junkyard Dog:
A heartfelt tale of woe with a silver lining
It’s been a tough month at the Craig house. It’s hubby again. No, he didn’t set anything on fire this time; he got sick. Really sick. And you guys know that while I tell funny stories about him all the time, he’s my real-life hero. So when he got sick, and I’m talking driving him to the emergency room sick, I was really scared. And really pissed. Because hubby didn’t want to go to the emergency room. Can someone explain why it’s so hard for a man to admit he’s sick? Never mind that he couldn’t breathe. He insisted it was just something that would pass. As if breathing isn’t that important, right? Men!!!
Anyway, after I finally got him to the hospital, they kept him for a few days, did a bunch of tests, but couldn’t find the problem. And when the symptoms disappeared, they sent him home with no diagnosis.
Well, a week later, the symptoms returned and were even worse this time. That led to another trip to the ER and then, believe it or not, yet another one. Both times I had to fight him to go. The last time I told the hospital staff, “You’re keeping him until you know what’s wrong with him.” Hey, I wasn’t really pawning him off, I was that worried.
However, the threat of having to keep him (maybe they’ve read my blog) made them dig a little deeper. They found something. Not a good something, either. A sonogram showed his heart was enlarged. It could be blockage. Serious blockage. Or it could be a virus. They did a heart cath to find out what was happening. It was the virus, but as the doctor told us, this is the best diagnosis of the two. In more than 50% of these cases, with the right meds, the heart will repair itself within a year. There’s just one little issue. Because his heart is “virus-stricken” and weak, he has to wear what they call a . . . life vest.
They can call it what they want, but I call it a battery-operated bra. About time the man knows what I go through trying to support my girls. Anyway, this bra is equipped with sensors that monitor his heart, and it has a ready-to-fire-at-any-moment defibrillator. I tease him about it endlessly. “Be good to me, or I’ll take your battery out.” Hey…humor is how we deal with things, remember?
So…I’m sure you guys are wondering how the $500 dollar junkyard dog comes into this story, right? I’m getting there. But first comes a little more woe. Do you remember the blog post about my son’s dog, Rex? I had him neutered because he suddenly became aggressive? And that seemed to take away the aggression issue. At least we thought it did.
His aggressive behavior happened again, only worse this time. After almost a month of in-and-out hospital stays with hubby, I hadn’t been very social. My friend called. She knew I’d had a rough few weeks and also knew sometimes just sharing a cup of something warm over a conversation with a friend can help relieve the stress.
She comes over, we’re in the entryway, Rex greets her happily, tail’s wagging and all is right in the world. And then it happened. Neither of us saw it coming. For some unknown reason, Rex attacked. While she was at the emergency room getting stitches, hubby and I were at the vet saying good-bye to our pet. As difficult as it was, there really wasn’t any option. Even the vet had warned us when we had him neutered, that some dogs are just aggressive by nature. It could have been so much worse, the injury could have been life-threatening. It could have been a child.
While it was the right thing to do, it hurt like the devil. Even with his flaws and his baffling unprovoked aggression issues, he was loved and brought us lots of joy. We all cried. My friend felt terrible, my son vowed to never love another animal. And when we walked out of the vet’s office, Hubby’s eyes filled with emotion, and he made me promise him that we would never, ever get another dog. I was so concerned about this stress on his weakened heart, that at that moment, I would have promised him the world.
And I wouldn’t have gone back on that promise. At least I didn’t think I would.
The very next day, our hearts were heavy; my son and hubby went to a junkyard to look at an old car, a Falcon Ranchero, they wanted to restore. I got the call about an hour later.
“We bought the car,” Hubby said.
“Good,” I lied. I mean, they really don’t need another car to work on. Isn’t two fixer-uppers enough?
“There’s something else I want to bring home,” Hubby said.
“Not another car, baby. We don’t have enough room.”
“Not a car,” he told me. “A dog.”
“You’re joking, right.” Really, I thought he was joking.
“No,” he answered in his dead serious tone.
“Aren’t you at a junkyard?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said.
The absurdity of this rolled over me like a dump truck. “You want to bring home a junkyard dog?”
“No,” I counter, in my blunt voice.
“She’s a sweet junkyard dog,” he said.
Junkyard dog and sweet don’t belong in the same sentence. “No,” I repeated.
“She needs a home.” I could almost hear his heart breaking over the line and when I didn’t say anything, he added, “She needs someone to save her.”
Damn, that man always knows how to pull on my heartstrings, but a junkyard dog? Then it hit me. The man’s connected to a defibrillator. I can’t break his heart.
“Do you really want this dog?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he said.
“Is she housebroken?” I asked.
“I don’t think she’s ever been inside a house.”
“Does she have fleas and ticks?”
“Of course, she does. She’s a junkyard dog.”
“Are you really serious?” I asked.
“She’s free,” he said.
You do remember how cheap he is, right? I reminded him what they say about nothing being free. “She could cost as much as a couple of hundred dollars to take her to the vet.” I thought that would change his mind.
I was wrong, both about how much it would cost and about it changing his mind. So I threw in the towel. I mean, seriously, what were my choices? The man’s wearing a defibrillator.
A couple of hours later, son and hubby pulled up with this free junkyard dog. Of course, that was after they stopped at Whataburger and got three meal deals. One for the dog.
I petted her, cautiously. She accepted my hand guardedly. She’s covered in fleas and ticks. But he was right. She was sweet and soft as silk. And unlike any junkyard dog I’ve ever known, she’s completely meek and docile. I took one look at her and named her Lady.
Hubby and son bathed her and took her to the vet. An hour later, we had good news and bad news. She’s only seven to eight months old and doesn’t have mange or heartworms. That’s it for the good news. On the other hand, she was severely anemic, severely malnourished, has all sorts of worms, and had kennel cough.
And oh yeah, she’s no lady.
I don’t mean she’s a boy. I mean, she’d been playing with the boys. Yup, she was pregnant. However, the vet didn’t think she was healthy enough to carry the babies. As a matter of fact, the vet said she didn’t think she would have survived much longer. So after another few swipes of our American Express, we had ourselves a free, $500, spayed junkyard dog.
She’s adapting to her new lifestyle. At first, she ate food whole, chewing was optional—I mean what if someone decided to take it away from her? She now chews her food, enjoys her memory foam bed at night, and thinks sofas are much more comfortable that my hardwood floors. She much prefers gnawing on shoes or a pair of jeans to the sticks that she used to find outside. She finds it much more productive to steal the family pack of 96% ground round set out on the counter than to raid garbage-cans. (I still don’t know how she got on the counter, or how she ate all of it so quickly.) She decided the leftover grilled chicken on the table must have been hers. Why else would we have left it unattended for ONE minute? She’s certain that the cat food set out on the windowsill is hers, and not the kitties’. After one week, Lady has gained five pounds and hasn’t had one potty accident inside.
And the kitties? Well, she must have a little pointer dog in her, because she sees a feline, goes completely still, quietly raises and folds up one paw. Her tail goes straight and she stares at the varmint. When we don’t do anything, she then looks at us as if to say. “I found it, now you shoot it. Hey, I did my job. You do yours.” Yeah, she’s still adapting, with a few scratches on her nose, to living with the felines. Lady has gained five pounds and hasn’t had one potty accident inside.
But as she hangs out at her bra-wearing rescuer’s side, keeping him company, helping him as he hopefully makes a full recovery, I have to admit, she’s the best five-hundred dollars my hubby has ever spent. She needed us; but in truth, we needed her, too.
So what about you guys? Have you ever taken in a stray? Today, as part of the New Year’s contest, I’m giving away a $25 card to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon-the winner’s choice. So make sure you leave a comment. And remember, Jan. 15th, we’re giving away either a Kindle or a Nook. So make sure you come back every day and leave comments. Also, check out the sidebar to see how you can get even more chances to enter.