States of Being

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Sometimes it seems that my dogs are not five separate organisms, but parts of one whole. When something is off balance with one part, the whole organism shifts.

I have been surprised the past couple of days, while my sweet Pyr is being treated at the vet’s office, by the behavior of my other dogs. Usually, if I get home later than normal, I am greeted with great enthusiasm and vocalization. I can feel the whole house bouncing and vibrating. But not this week.

This week, the dogs have made perfucntory barks and little else. They have made their way to the door and outside with fair haste, but not with the same drive. They know Faith is ill, they know their world is out of balance.

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I don’t know whether this time balance can be restored.

I know that with or without Faith, we will go on. We will find a new balance.

I wonder how long it will take for us to find enthusiasm and joy in that new balance.

If she comes through this illness, she will be a far more elderly, frail dog than she would ever have expected to be. Her dignity will be important to all of us. She will have to supervise someone else keeping the yard safe from buses, birds and planes.

Life changes. Organisms have an ebb and flow.

I feel so lucky to live within the aura of this organism.

Kids and dogs

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Sometimes I think my sons have the notion that I love my dogs more than I love them.

I assure you, there is nothing in this world more important to me than my children.

Part of the confusion may come from the fact that if I did my job well as a parent, my sons are not dependent. If I do my job well as a pet owner, my dogs are dependent.

I hope that what I taught my sons will allow them to continue making informed and independent decisions, choosing to do what is right – for them, for their communities, for the greater good.

I hope that what I have taught my dogs will bring them running back to me whether it’s mealtime or not! I hope they will look to me for guidance, for permission, for praise.

I love my dogs dearly. Their illnesses, their deaths, tear me into tiny pieces that scatter in the wind. I am conscious, from the moment they arrive in my home, that I will have them but a little while, to teach and be taught, to share joy and pain.

My sons are an act of faith, that this world can be a better place, that one child, one man (or woman) can make a difference. They are an act of love, of patience, of devotion and perseverance. They are hope, they are connectedness, they are an extension of me to which I have cut the cord.

I am incredibly fortunate that I have a family that loves being together, exploring, experimenting, supporting each other and laughing together. The loss of any piece of that wonderful collage diminishes the whole. But does not put out the light. We have each taught each other to be strong, in love and in loss. So have I taught my children, I hope, to be strong enough to lean on each other when need be.

My dogs are smart dogs. They have yet to learn to open the containers that hold the bags that hold their food. They need someone around to help them get food and shelter and veterinary care and a little recreation now and then.  And some comfy furniture to flop on. That someone is me. In return for providing all of the above, I get to laugh and play and hold them. They challenge me and we work it out. They are dependent on my presence, my involvement with them, for their survival. And because I have brought them into my home, I owe them that and so much more.

My kids are smart, too. They know that I love them and support them in the decisions they make, because I know they are kind and just men. I suspect they prefer that I not hover at the edges of their lives, offering opinions and judgments that are not mine to offer. I hope they know that if they need me, I’m there for them, whenever, where ever. I cannot take their pain away, nor should I. No matter how much I want them to be free from pain, I know that isn’t realistic and I hope I have given them enough strength to deal with whatever life brings.

Perhaps the most important difference can be summed up this way – I have promised my dogs that I will do everything I can to ensure that I outlive them (or make arrangements, just in case).

My sons had damned well better outlive me.

Persephone – Joan Fremo

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I never had the privilege of meeting Joan Fremo, though I recall one brief email exchange.  She was a remarkable dog rescuer, who touched many lives, both people and dogs. I had to search a long time to find a copy of this story, the related story of  A Thousand Miles to Freedom I fear may be lost forever. Joan saw some of the worst cruelty man could inflict on dogs, but she was always ready to make one more call, send one more email if it could help another dog.

I hope you have tissue handy.

Persephone has crossed the Bridge
© Joan C. Fremo

Sep 24, 2002

(Posted to Suite101.com, http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/dog_rescue/95309)

Persephone is gone…

I am a rescuer.
I am made of steel.
I have stopped at the side of the road for an injured animal, and plunged my bare hands into gaping wounds to try to staunch the flow of blood.

I am a rescuer.
I am made of steel.
I have been held at gunpoint while I begged for the life of a chained dog, a dog the owner believed was his property and that he could abuse in any manner he thought fit.

I am a rescuer.
I am made of steel.
My heart is hard, and holds no forgiveness for these two legged monsters masquerading as human beings, these monsters who inflict suffering on the innocents of our planet–be they children or animals. I hold a broken and damaged animal in my arms, and hope these monsters will suffer the fate they have subjected these innocents to—that they find themselves in hell, chained without food and water, that they know no kindness.

I am a rescuer.
I am made of porcelain.
My heart shatters into fragile shards as I hold this gentle soul while she gasps her last breath. My tears fall on her soft muzzle as I kiss her goodbye.

Persephone is gone…

Persephone was just a puppy. In her too short life she had endured so much suffering—She, and the two dogs rescued with her, Donnan and Courage, had lost almost all their fur. Their skin was burnt black from chemicals; mange and the blistering Summer sun in Arkansas. They had been starved, their limbs withered and weakened by malnutrition, and their joints were painfully swollen. Their eyes were puffy and oozing from being sprayed with weed killer. Rescued from Hell, these three traveled over 1000 to find safety and love.

One month. That was all the time Persephone had. One month to learn that hands don’t hurt, that food bowls are meant to be filled, that fresh water is plentiful. One month to learn to play, to learn to trust, to love and be loved. One month to heal the wounds, the skin lesions and infections. One month to savor special meals, to gain weight, to grow fur—to grow beautiful and confident.

One month could not undo the damage her previous life had caused. One month is too short a time… One month is all we had.

Persphone was doing so well, that I never entertained the thought she would not continue to do so. She had gained weight, her skin has softened, and she had grown a downy soft fur that covered her formerly burnt skin. Of these 3 sweet Rescues from AR, Persephone seemed to be the strongest…

Wednesday evening, though she didn’t eat her full portion, she was still bouncing and happy. When I awoke on Thursday she was in distress. She was lethargic, would not eat, didn’t want to go out, and acted like her hind legs were stiff.

I called the vet’s office, and we there, waiting before the vets arrived. Persephone was seen by the first available vet, Dr. Langbourne.

Of the things I was concerned about, and asked the vet, were blockage; tick borne illnesses, (the three had been covered in ticks when they were first picked up); mushroom poisoning, (though I religiously search my yard every morning); and toxicity from the weed killer they were sprayed with.

Thursday’s visit consisted of exam and x-rays. The x-rays showed gas at either end of the intestinal track, but no blockage. Persephone was given a long acting antibiotic, a blood test, and we were sent home with instructions to return first thing the next morning for a barium enema.

On Friday, her films showed no blockage. Her liver enzymes and kidney functions were within normal range. Her white blood cell count was slightly elevated, but this could also be from the staph infection, (the small pustules under the skin).

In addition to the medicines for her stomach, we also started her on doxicycline in case this was a tick borne disease, and we waited for the results of the titers test. $500 in two days, still mounting, and we still didn’t know the cause of her discomfort.

When I picked her up Friday, I was accompanied by Courage. On the trip home from the vets, Courage lay with his head and one paw across Persephone–worried and quiet–as she was so still.

Persephone was not eating, barely drinking, and on Saturday I began subcutaneous fluids. There had been no change, she lay as still as death. She would raise her head to drink a little, but would not eat. I sat with her, gave her a bit of broth, and held her.

I held her, professing my love. I was afraid to sleep, afraid I’d lose her. Courage and I lay close to her on her blanket—he with a paw thrown over her, me with my arm cradling her head and stroking the soft new downy fur. We returned to the vet’s on the Monday morning.

Her blood test was dismal, showing both liver and kidney involvement. But her x-rays… Her lungs were completely obscured from view by the cloudy white of fluid or massive infection in her lungs. She was laboring to breathe; her liver and spleen were enlarged. As I looked at the x-rays, my heart dropped. Hopes dashed, tears sprang to my eyes as Dr. Paula and I made the decision to release her from her suffering.

I kissed her nose, her muzzle, and her soft ears. I told her how much she was loved, and how many people had sent Angels to guide her and keep her. I tell her of my Magnus waiting for her at the Bridge.

My tears fell on her soft fur, she gasped, and she was gone.

I am a rescuer. I am made of porcelain. My heart is shattered. My sweet little Angel is gone. No forever family, no home of her own.

Persephone is gone…

I come home, and attempt to explain to Donnan and Courage—survivors of Hell—that Persephone has gone to the Bridge. That she is safe, and happy… Exhausted, I seek my bed to finally rest from the last several days of round the clock vigil when suddenly my home is filled with a mournful dirge. All 9 Rescues in residence have thrown back their heads, eerily lifting their voices in plaintive song to the heavens. For several minutes their grief is given voice, and my tears flow.

Persephone is gone…

I have asked that she be cremated, and her ashes returned to me. I will not regret the expenses of the last few days. I hope there will be help for her vet bill, but if not… I will find a way. Take out a loan, beg–something.

I am a rescuer. I am made of stern stuff.
My heart will heal with each animal rescued, the glue that mends my heart is the pictures from adopters, their stories, and their love for their adopted Rescues.

Persephone is gone, but she knew love. When the time comes, I wonder if I will recognize her at the Bridge. She will have a lovely coat of long white fur. She won’t be naked, will she?

R.I.P. 9/23/02

Please light a candle for this sweet furchild and remember her in your hearts. Please visit 1000 Miles to Safety (sadly, I am unable to find a link to this report. I remember reading it several years ago and being tempted to violence against those who would be so cruel to these innocent souls. I will keep looking).

Persephone, journeyed to the Rainbow Bridge 9/23/02.
Running with the Angels