Of all the things that we do to keep an active poodle farm running smoothly, saying goodbye to a longtime resident is not something I can say is a favorite thing, but it is a honorable thing and one I take very seriously. Knowing just when to end the pain is hard. Too soon and I feel we rob our dogs of life they should live. Too late and we cause unnecessary pain and suffering. Neither works for me so we do the best we can in that timing. The caregiver closest to the dog goes with him or her to make that final trip with a friendly hand resting gently on them, easing the way. That familiar, comforting touch is essential to a smooth passing.
Today I chose the time and the place and mine was the hand while one of our virtual adoptables, Betty, left a broken and bent body for something better. I have done this before. I know what to expect. It does not make it easy but at least it is a road travelled before. It was the right time and a smooth transition for her. She was very tired.
On these days, I very often find myself not focusing on the end, for it is as pain free and serene as I can make it. I focus instead on the beginning and the middle for every dog has a story. This is Betty’s.
It was late February of 2013 when Poodle Club of America Rescue Foundation president Cindy Crawley contacted me about a very special standard she was working on. Abandoned at friend’s by her drug addict owner, all we really knew was that her name was Betty, she was an Addisonian dog and she needed a place to go. Constantly crashing at friends may be exciting if you’re a teenager but not when you’re a 9 year old standard poodle. Stability and steady meals, that was Betty’s style.
But Addison’s disease is an expensive one and trying to find a rescue to take on the challenges of a dog whose medication could cost upwards of $100 per month is difficult. So Cindy thought of CPR for she knew I was working on an exciting idea – the virtual adoptions program. My thought was simple – no one wanted these older or challenged dogs to die but finding the perfect home was not easy either. So how about we invite a lot of people to help give a little so that dog can live at the farm and have a great life. I knew the challenges and expense of an Addisonian dog. I knew that with help, we could give her what she needed. Betty would be one of our cornerstones of the program. I told Cindy if she could get her to me all the way from the west coast, I could take it from there. Cindy called Delta and arrangements were made.
The weekend for Betty to arrive in Atlanta, the closest airport we could get which offered a direct flight from California, was perfect for it was the weekend of the Atlanta Pet Fair grooming show and I had staff in Atlanta. But…there would be a day’s delay between Betty’s landing and my staff’s return to the farm with no place to stay in between. Cindy reached out to her support group for Addisonian dogs and found a volunteer who offered to pick up and overnight Miss Betty. It sounded good.
I have to laugh now at this wonderful, loving woman who had an Addisonian dog and wanted to help but had never actually touched a rescued dog before. As soon as she committed, she started worrying.
Her – “What if she tries to bite me.”
Me- “She won’t.“
Her – “What if she tries to attack my dog.”
Me – “She won’t.”
Her – “What if she pees in the house?”
Me – “sigh” She might. You’ll have to clean it up.”
Of course, what arrived was a large, gregarious, loving and affectionate (and house trained) standard poodle, fully groomed and well behaved. Her name was Betty and it fit – big, beautiful, bossy, brassy, bountiful, blessed Betty.
Except for the matter of her legs. No one had bothered to mention to us that Betty walked ………well, Betty walked like a bit like a crab in her back end, all bent and twisted. What was this all about? Why was this dog’s back legs so misshapen? Why was her gait so choppy? Betty came to us on a heavy dose of tramadol but no one mentioned the legs. To this day, I have never found out why she walked the way she did. Our vet’s best guess was at one point hit by a car. So Betty walked a bit like a sailor fresh off the ship. It made her more endearing to me.
My note to Cindy on 3/18/2013 told what was happening here at the farm quite well. We were chatting about medical and temperament and all those things that go on with evaluating new dogs but the last sentence I wrote summed things up pretty well. “I adore her………if she never goes anywhere it won’t break my heart. She has fit into my pack like she’s always been here.”
For fit she had. In the first year, I screened two possible homes for Betty. Both were good people and both adopted others. One health problem was ok. Multiple health problems was not. I understood and Betty stayed with me and became our virtual adoptions spokes dog.
Looking through the pictures tonight I realized Betty went everywhere. Whatever she may have missed in California, she made up for in the Carolina’s. Betty went back to the Atlanta Pet Fair the next year and was a grooming demo dog. She also modeled at the Mebane fair for two years in a row. She travelled with me to New York for adoption events. She was all over the Carolina’s going to events, hockey games, parties, adoption fairs, the reunion, you name it and Betty’s familiar face could be seen looking up and grinning, right in the middle and loving the action. She loved life. She loved to ride in the car. She loved to meet new people. If there was a party, Betty wanted to be there. Twisted legs and funky bloodwork be durned, she wasn’t about to miss a party. Betty was disabled only in other’s minds. In hers, she was here for the ride and she was making the most of it.
Betty in her 12 years survived trauma severe enough to twist her legs and pelvis making walking difficult. She survived a pretty serious dog fight before she came to me. She survived being abandoned by her first owner. She thrived despite Addison’s disease. She thrived despite dry eye. She survived pancreatitis. She survived toe cancer. And she survived and thrived with all of them with a love in her of man and beast, all of them no matter what. She had not one evil or mean bone in her body except for cats. Her one regret was she couldn’t chase them.
For 2 ½ years Betty graced my life and represented rescued dogs all over the country. Did she deserve those 2 ½ years? I think so.
Betty had a whole ton of sponsors – I want to wish a very special thank you to Betty’s sponsors. Jennifer Reel will be reaching out to you to see if you will choose another virtually adoptable dog. Or leave your sponsorship for Betty and pledge it to the next Addisonian standard we take in. Betty would like that. And even though she belonged to all of you through our virtual adoptions program, I believe there was a very special place in her heart for me, her foster forever mom.
Would you like to do something for Betty? Visit our webpage at http://cprvirtualadoptions.org/ and choose a virtually adoptable dog of your own. If you can’t decide, go to the bottom of the page and pick “choose one for me.” $20 per month goes a long way towards making sure Betty and her friends get those years. All of them.
Night Betty. Til we meet again.