We are on the way home from Kentucky. For the past eight hours I have held “she who would not be put down”, wrapped tightly in a blanket and in my arms. Now we have stopped to give the dogs some food and water, a walk and a bathroom break. I am trying to put her in an x-pen with a bed and the cozy blanket that has swaddled her. She is having none of it. She is so weak she can barely stand, take a few teetering, tottering, stumbling steps before she tumbles over. Yet she will not be put down. With everything she has in her she is trying to jump out of the x-pen. She jumps and collapses on her side and tries again. She is frantic. It is as if she thinks her whole world is collapsing in on itself yet again. She has found a measure of comfort and safety and although she does not have much left in her, she will expend it all to keep that. I swear that my heart burst in a million tiny pieces as I choked back the tears and scooped her up. After what she’d been through just to make it here, “she who would not be put down”, would not be put down. This time whatever she needed would be hers.
Three days ago I’d pulled her back from the brink. She had just been severely attacked by two other dogs. Water hoses made them back off. They left her cold and wet, afraid and uncomprehending, a soaking wet mass of fur and fear. She was drenched, the air was brisk and she was shivering as shock set in. Her bones were covered only in skin, no fat or muscle there to protect. Her body torn open, bruised and bloody, evidence of the brutality she endured.
This is how I found her, hanging on, barely. She was dehydrated, her gums were white. Without the strength to stand or even sit, her life was nearly ended. Without intervention she was hours away from being no more. I’m amazed she was with us still. I wonder how she was.
Do dogs dream big dreams? I do not know but something kept her holding on. I’m certain she believed there was something better than her “this”. Doggedly determined to hold on long enough to find it, here she was. Here she was, still fighting the dimming of her days, still sure there would be some way out. How did this tender-hearted impish girl know to dare to dream, to believe? Where did she acquire such surety and faith? Do dogs dream big dreams? I think she did.
The first night of the rest of her life was spent in the hospital. The first report was that she may not make it until morning. I knew she would though. I’d seen it in her eyes when we wrapped her in a blanket and held her close. I’d seen it in her body as she surrendered her life to our care now. I’d seen it when she gratefully devoured the food I offered. I’d seen a shy, sweet smile of humble triumph. The look on her face said, “There you are, I knew you’d come.”
To this day I cannot figure out how she knew help would appear. But I think she did. I found her too weak to stand but not too weak to know what she so fervently believed had come true. And so I found her name, True. Her big dreams were finally real and she was going to stick around to live them. So when they told me she might not make it through that first night – I knew she would. I felt it in my soul.
Two weeks later as I watch True I am amazed.
She is so open, so loving, so ready to embrace and live this new life. She is full of love and spunk, sass and silly. When she’s happy, which is always, her tail wags in big helicopter circles. She is brave and strong. She moves forward fully here in the now. I see a shadow specter of that day when she meets a new dog and for a moment wonders friend or foe. She is so courageous though and so ready and wanting to believe in good. She puts herself right out there, front and center, hello big life, here is True.
I scoop her up today and she turns to jelly, smiling. She loves to be held, to feel the safety of knowing she is no longer alone. She basks in the attention and affection. Now that she knows this will not go away, she is secure, content. I tell her every day, “I love you true True”. I do. I love her fiercely. I think my heart might explode from the fierceness of my love. She is a little miracle. She is a reminder. She is resilience. This is why we do what we do. I love you true True, truly I do.