Stepping out of her transport crate, the dog that was to become our Grandma member showed little hope or reason for hope. She had clearly run her race and bore all of the scars of what had been her previous life. “Eleven years old” her papers said. If true, they had been eleven hard years.
(photo taken April, 2016 at transport)
At her first vet visit, the veterinarian seriously questioned our wisdom and intent. Even the dog’s eyes bore the sarcasm of “Oh here we go again, I no longer believe humans and this is not my first rodeo.” Do we treat the heartworm first or remove the mammary tumors? At the end of that conversation, despite all reservations, our endeavor of working with her had launched.
By the end of the first year, we had all exceeded each other’s expectations. The humans brought their best angels and Sweet Alice brought her courage to trust and try again. It is important to say here that Sweet Alice was not always sweet. Her behavior was sometimes that of a crabby Grandma threatening the children with her cane when no one was looking.
Time and patience allowed her to make a place within her new and forever home. We all tried to respect her age and history. Not trying was not an option. We tolerated her penchant for sleeping in the middle of the floor or doorway and her voice when someone came too close to her spot. We all gave her an extra treat, the biggest piece, an extra scratch behind her ears and encouraging words. By watching the others, she learned to sit. Satisfied with that, we did not teach her to do the hand touch. Praise and inclusion became our mantra. Her body repaired itself with excellent nutrition and care. But, would this be enough for “forever after”?
When Sweet Alice came to Blue Sky, she had a small intermittent cough. With her more serious issues looming, it seemed a small thing. Her heart was strong enough to carry her through heartworm treatment and surgery; but as time passed, she developed specific symptoms of congestive heart failure. The modalities of Eastern and Western medicine each helped for periods of time but eventually it became clear there would be no cure.
(photo taken October, 2017 by Laura Young)
Sweet Alice asked for nothing. She appreciated any kindness offered her. She always walked as if her shoes were too tight. I adored her white eye lashes. At first she hung back in the pack, in the end she was in the front row, often in the center. No tricks and without manipulation, she never pushed. Instead, she simply sat and waited.
THE QUESTION STILL IS: Why bother?
THE ANSWER WILL ALWAYS BE: Quality of time beats length of time. We agree with Sweet Alice, HALLELUJAH ANYWAY!!
In Tribute: From her beginning until February 5, 2018