Don't go breaking my heart


A friend said to me once, they break your heart twice: once when they come to you and once when they leave.

I found Ava after years of wanting a dog and months looking for one casually. I found what looked like an Irish Wolfhound mixed with a medium dog breed. It was the perfect size of the breed I had wanted for years. But it just wasn't right. So I went home a little defeated, but the next day casually looked through the rescue's website for the umpteenth time, and amazingly saw one sweet little face I hadn't seen before. I went to meet her that night.

They put us in a little garden shed that was set up in the lobby. It gave prospective adopters the chance for uninterrupted time with the dog. It was obviously FULL of smells, which was what she was mostly interested in. (Still is.) They gave me some treats to get her attention. (Still works! Sometimes...) I thought about all the trigger areas I knew for dogs—areas that make them skittish. So I touched her ears...and her feet...and her tail. She let me play with her mouth and stick my hand in there. This was obviously not any kind of aggressive dog. She was (and still is) a menace, but she was (and still is) such a sweetheart.

Ava had rubbed all the hair off the top of her head and nose. She had been in that kennel for 5 months waiting for someone. I came to find out she had been adopted from and returned to the rescue after a few short years with her previous family. And she was on SALE! At a non-profit! A place that really needs the funds to keep saving animals from kill shelters. And this poor baby was 1/4 of the regular adoption fee. I asked if they'd hold her for a few days while I got my house set up to adopt her and bought supplies I'd need for owning a dog. They said no, but I thought my chances were pretty good she'd still be there.

Three and a half years later, after a lot of difficult days, some bizarre behavior, amazing cuddles, and some sweet moments introducing my beautiful weirdo dog to the world around her, I thought she was going to break my heart for a second time.

Ava got up that day and limped. I saw, but I didn't worry too much. She'd been clumsy recently (she's never been the most graceful dog), and she is getting older, so I thought it could just be some morning creakiness in her joints. I had also recently started her on joint supplements.

I went about my day as usual. Trying to get some work done. Trying to get some progress on various projects in the rig. And trying to avoid the heat. I was careful to watch Ava when she walked around to keep an eye on the "creaky" back leg. She seemed fine most of the day. But...I got focused on a work thing in the evening—one of my productive periods of the day for work—and let some hours go by and the evening start to settle in before I went to check on Ava again. She'd been very content the previous few days to just hang out outside on her cable for as long as possible, with short interruptions of small walks around our park.

So when I went out to get her at dusk, and she was shaking...

I found out at the 24-hour emergency vet in the city an hour away that shaking, or trembling, is a pain response. It made me feel guilty. It's taken me a while to be able to write about this, because it scared me. I thought I was going to lose her, and I haven't cried so much and so hard about something for a long time. I thought it might break my heart.

(Don't worry, she's fine. The very expensive vet trip involved taking x-rays and full blood workups, and she has some arthritis, but she likely just sprained her "knee" a little.)

I used to think it was kind of silly, and I know a lot of people still will:  But she's my baby. She is a creature that has her own interests and curiosity and sadness and stubbornness and all kinds of goofiness. She has different relationships with a myriad of friends and strangers we've met along the way. And, she's my favorite dog. I love her.

#ava #pets #fur-baby #rescues