Once again, I’ve been absent due to the demands of everyday life and became too comfortable with all of the successful pet adoption stories that would flood in online and through word of mouth. Whether via Facebook or eblasts or educating one person at a time or new legislation in favor of humane animal treatment, all of the progress convinced me enough to step back for a bit. The message was getting across. People are listening. Mission accomplished……..for now.
About 2 weeks ago, a friend was dropping off some donations at an animal shelter and came across an emaciated 3lb chihuahua. Despite his condition and appearing to be the most sickly dog there, he had a spirit about him. A forgiving and optimistic persona that despite what he most likely experienced, he wanted to show everyone that he was still loveable and that he believed there are loving humans out there.
My friend immediately posted his photo online and asked help from anyone who was willing to help this poor guy out. Whether donations for his care, fostering, or adopting, she tried her hardest to do what she could given his fragile state. In less than 2 days, I was able to line up 3 families willing to adopt him sight unseen. Just by 1 photo and his short story, these families were willing to give him a much deserved second chance. And with my parents help with vet care, he would soon have a warm bed, enough food, and a loving home.
Now known as Yoda, my friend brought him into my parents’ animal hospital for neutering and the usual wellness check-up. Almost instantly, my parents fell in love with him. With 2 chihuahuas of my own, my parents had already a love of the breed and wanted Yoda as their own. And considering his fragile state, it would’ve been awhile until he would be adopted out. They wanted to make sure he had a clean bill of health before any transfer into a new environment.
The first 48hrs after his transfer out of the shelter went by smoothly despite the malnutrition. His spirit was still upbeat as if he knew that he was going to receive some TLC. He showed a healthy appetite, received all of his vaccinations and his neutering went by without a hitch and so we were optimistic that he was going to recover perfectly. Unfortunately, that is when it began to go downhill for poor Yoda.
The evening following his surgery, he was fully alert but still a bit groggy. I introduced him to my three little ones and he responded positively. No aggression, fright, or anxiety. In fact, my dogs allowed him to sniff them out and were quite gentle with him. As if they knew he was in a fragile state. Although his appetite decreased and he was still slightly tired, Yoda was very alert, welcomed the many kisses I gave him, and looked comforted with the company surrounding him.
The following morning, my parents found Yoda hunched over in his bed and knew instantly he needed some immediate care. After running a blood test, Yoda had to be put on fluids and force fed soft foods. Within a few hours, although very small, he started showing signs of alertness and accepting food willingly. Not signs of great improvement but at least a little.
The following morning ended up repeating the morning before…but worse. After his blood test coming back abnormal (with signs of irregularity in organ function), Yoda wasn’t improving at all and was placed into an incubator and hooked up to an IV. He was limp but still fighting for his life. His condition just baffled my parents. Yoda’s first 48hrs out of the shelter showed promise and hope for him. But then by that 3rd day, his body was starting to give up. Since he was picked up as a stray already emaciated, there was no telling how long he was very poorly malnourished. It was assumed that possibly his spirit was starting to reach its limit. Yoda fought for as long as he could but succumbed to his condition on a Friday morning. Just 4 short days after starting his new life.
Yoda’s death shocked everyone, especially me. He had so much promise externally and so what was going on with him internally? After performing a necropsy, my dad discovered that Yoda’s organs were under-developed, most especially his one and only kidney. Our poor Yoda barely stood a chance the day he was born. A healthy diet, adequate vet care, and loving home may have prolonged his life, but his days were numbered regardless.
Needless to say, Yoda’s death really hit me hard. I went through a tornado of emotions: sadness, anger, loss, failure. I truly felt like I had let him down. Throughout my life, my family and I gave dogs second chances with both unlimited love and vet care. We did have a few that met their faiths too soon but at least they were able to live the good life. At least they knew what a good life was. In my heart, I felt Yoda barely experienced it. We did the best we could for him in the short amount of time he was in our lives but it just saddens me that he was still too young to go.
I never knew a puppy that I briefly met would impact me so much. Sometimes I feel like that it was his calling to shake me to my core and open up my eyes again. He was there to nudge and remind me that there are so many like him out there who still need help. The brief moment with him that convinved me he was happy but then lost the fight was a reminder that there’s still work that needs to be done. He tricked me to think he was going to be another success story. When he indeed was the story to push me to continue fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves. They can only fight for so long within the conditions they fall in but rely on us to make life better for them.
So much can be theorized about Yoda’s life. Was he born with under-developed organs or did malnutrition starting from birth cause it? Was he a result from inbreeding? Did his previous owners give up on him and let him run away? Did his owners just dump him off the side of the road? No one can really know for sure. The story remains between Yoda and his previous owners. But then perhaps they don’t even remember or don’t care to…..and then it’s left in the memory of Yoda, my wise Jedi master who got me off my butt to do something again.