March 27th 2013 2:43 pm
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Before I got Hope I had an amazing service dog by the name of Suki. This dog had done more for me and the people in my life then I could have ever expected. The day I was forced to give her up was one of the worst days in my life.
In January of 2010 I had moved into an apartment building. It was going to be a new life for us. I was in the middle of a divorce and it was going to be our first place alone. The place may have been small but it was a step up from living under a bridge in Duluth, MN as we had the spring before. My first day there a Fox Terrier came lunging at us as we were on our way to the elevator. It grabbed ahold of her back leg and shook. The owner of the other dog went off on me about having a large dog in the building (Suki is an Akita) and that it startled her dog. I ignored her and got my girl into the elevator. After I was safe in my place I checked her to find a section of missing hair and some small puncture wounds. My sweet tempered girl didn't even raise a lip.
Over the next two months the attacks continued. I tried to talk to the manager about it but was only informed that it's only natural for a small dog to react that way when a big dog comes out of no where at them. Things got their worst on March 10th. My ex was taking her out for a walk. My back wouldn't let me do much and I needed the help that day. I could hear it down the stairs by my place and my heart sank. The sound of a small dog snarling and snapping. My girl crying out and then the small dog screaming. I gritted my teeth and came down the stairs as fast as my legs could carry me. Suki was holding up her legs rotating between the front and back on her right side. There was blood on her nose where it had been ripped open. The owner of the Terrier had her dog suspended by it's neck several inches above the ground. It's fangs still bared and snarling at my girl. I could see the two punctures on it's side.
My ex brought my girl upstairs and I went to check on the other dog. There was one clear bite on it's side. The owner said she was fine and that we didn't need to report anything. "I can just put a sweater on her. It's not the first time she got bit by a big dog." I called the police myself and told her to get the dog into the vet. I made my way upstairs and checked on my own girl. Only one bite had pierced the skin and that was the one on the nose. God it looked horrible. I found 6 areas (2 on the front right leg and 4 on the back right leg) that looked like bite scratches. She was in so much pain. The vet said she would be all right but advised me to stay clear of the other dog in the incident.
The next day I got the letter from the manager saying my dog was aggressive and needed to be removed from the building. I was so ill at the time I didn't have the heart to fight. I tried but failed. There was no due process. And even though I had her evaluated by animal control and deemed non aggressive they wouldn't listen. So I lost my companion and best friend.
The aggressive dog moved out about one year latter.
Over the next couple of years I fostered several dogs. All seemed to have varying levels of anxiety issues. It really did throw me for a loop how many dogs with such sad pasts were coming my way. Maybe unconsciously I was trying to find dogs as sad and hopeless as I felt. One by one I cared for them and got them over their fears. In the process they managed to to the same for me. One day I decided I was ready for my own big dog again. I contacted different breeders letting them know what I was looking for. Also letting them know my income limits. I could manage a 100 for food every month and all the basic medical stuff but not if I was paying several thousand for the dog it self. Trying to find a hand out for service work isn't as easy as it seams. There are several large societies who pay large amounts to purchase their dogs from breeders. Because of this it's hard to get any of them to make a donation or even reduced price.
A friend started helping as I was looking threw kennel dogs. I found so many that would have made great pets but none that would have been able to do medical service work. Then out of the blue I got an e-mail from a kennel. They had a dog for me free of charge. I just had to find a way to get her to me. I cried. They asked me what I wanted to name her and the only name that popped into my head was Hope (Hold On Pain Ends).
While we were arranging for her to get up here and start her new life a bit of my past came back to haunt me.
After my husband and I had split up he had decided to breed his white shepherd to a male he had never met. I told him it wasn't a good idea but he did it anyway. What came out of it was a litter of jumpy and nervous puppies. One had landed with a friend who gave it to her boyfriend. I was given the job of checking up on the little white girl when she turned a year old. We had heard rumors about him trying to use her for breeding. Concerned I went to check on her. He was keeping her in the basement of a bar and also impersonating a service dog with her. She had no form of training for this work and he had no need and or prescription for a service dog. The dog was cowering under a desk and urinated herself in front of me when he walked toward her. With police assistance I removed the dog for lack of veterinary care as was agreed to in the original contract of sale. He had signed the contract when he took possession of the dog. I rehabilitated her as much as possible over the next two months before finding her a home of her own where she would never have to be afraid again. Spirit as I called her left for her forever home 2 months before finding Hope.
Now that we are caught up.
The previous owner of Spirit had found out about my new dog on the way and was determined to hurt me. The one who I had once thought was my friend called the breeder and told him I was a hoarder. That I was taking in animal after animal and giving them away after destroying them emotionally. When I heard about this I looked at Monty my 4lb chihuahua and tried my best to picture him as the 5 80lb+ dogs I was being accused of having. I explained where I believed this story was coming from and even asked him about the name and number of the one calling. I knew at that moment she was never truly my friend like I had thought. The breeder was still willing to work with me but I had to promise to send regular updates. I told him honestly that I was already planning on it.
Now the only problem was getting her from Missouri to Wisconsin. The friend who was helping me to find a dog originally came threw. She found a web site for a motorcycle club. The image of a half grown Leonberger sitting on the back of a Harley raced threw my head and the laughing was making it hard to breath. She explained further that they do dog relays. That one picks her up in a location and moves her to the next who drives another distance. This repeats until the dog is home. Laughter turned to tears of joy to planning. I already had her food and equipment now the plan was to prepare a thank you meal for the hero who was taking up the last leg of the journey. His screen name was Lucifer Orange and I will never forget what him and his friends did for me.
Two days travel and Hope was home. She was scared and limping from the injury she had gotten before I got her. She came to me with a broken toe that was on the mend. The dog I was under the impression to be strong and sturdy temperament was cowering and hiding under tables. She wanted nothing to do with strangers. And that included me. But at this point and with everything I had gone threw just to get her I was bound and determined to put my best effort into this. Even if she in the end doesn't work out for service work she would have a forever home with me.
Over the next three months she has done so well. She will never be a people dog but she is now able to go out around them without panicking. There are still times that she doesn't do to well and will get scared but those are becoming less and less as time goes bye. It was an adventure for both of us to find each other. And now that we have each other I can see nothing managing to pull us apart.
See all diary entries for Hope|