Voices of Spencer Creek Valley
Spencer Creek Journal
On a bright beautiful summer morning Laddie
Black died. The sweet-natured, tri-color male collie was our hardest case. With Blackie,
as we called him, we had rewarding but momentary successes and a sad ending. I and
my family have participated in a local dog rescue effort, Collie Rescue. I figured
that Collie dog rescue would be a good "family bonding" project for a country
home, and a manageable one. After all, how many lost or injured "Lassies"
could there be? I wasn't volunteering for Labrador rescue! Laddie Black came to us
almost two years ago, a dog on the "underground railroad" of animal rescue.
He might have been five or eight or ten years old. It was hard to tell. The story
that filtered through people and time was that he was bound for doggie death row
at the Grants Pass Humane Society when he was "sprung". When we saw him
we understood why the Grants Pass Humane Society thought that would be the humane
answer. He was in very bad shape. Sick, starved and broken, he was not a good prospect
for a future adoption. Although a couple of people and their families vetted, groomed
and loved him on his way here, one look told me that any rehabilitation would be
a gamble and labor of love. What I didn't know then was that Blackie would teach
us more about love than we ever thought a dog so injured and brain damaged could.
Dr. Devon thought his past injuries were
human inflicted and may have been the cause of his brain damage. His pelvis was twisted.
His back right paw was not well connected with his leg. He held his massive and lovely
head at a strange side angle. His eyes were dull with pain. His front teeth stuck
out like a prehistoric beast. He had a hard time hearing. And seeing. Blackie brought
a nasty parasite with him - our clue was pernicious diarrhea that Dr. Devon diagnosed
as whipworm, rare in this part of the country. (Eventually we ripped the carpets
out -- and the other animals became infected before we got it mostly under control.)
He was slower in all respects than the other resident dogs. He was hard to train.
It took him time to figure where his food bowl was. How to back off and not beg for
food. Blackie would get into the garbage. We put the kitchen garbage can in the adjoining
room with a kiddie fence. We figured it was a remnant behavior of his days surviving
on these streets as a stray. Finally he began to gain weight. He began to feel better
with vitamins, MSM, flax, Interceptor for whipworm control, and Rimadyl for pain.
He had a lot of pain. All that said, he began to get better and take an interest
in life. There was a look of alertness!
He slowly figured out that to be part
of ranch life he had to join the daily walks on our loops to the spring or to the
back forty. At first Blackie was "light on the leash". But after more time
went by he dragged himself along. Later we had to drag him. Slowly, so slowly we
walked, observing leaves and insects usually not seen by the faster walker. In the
last half year or so, Blackie would go as far as he could that day, sometimes a little,
rarely all the way. Often he would go only to the picnic area by Spencer Creek or
wait under a huge old fir we call the grandfather tree where there was shade. I began
to trust him that he would wait and not get lost wandering in a daze.
He slept by the side of our bed. He loved
to be brushed and groomed. He gave and took love like a chocolate junkie.There was
never enough. At first it was a little annoying how he would insinuate his large
head under your hand and lean his large body into you. But soon we came to rely on
his constant love and friendship. Feeling blue? Blackie would make us laugh and forget
ourselves by petting him to a joyful beta state! He had a sense of patience and serenity
that made us want to mirror it back to him. If we stumbled on his sprawling body,
he forgave instantly. At last we understood that no one would adopt him -- Laddie
Black was home for good. We found the cash for his needed tooth surgery. After the
surgery, he was in pain all night but would stop crying when I slept beside on the
floor. Love was everything, you see.
He became friends with the ducks, other
dogs and cats, especially with Rian ,a fellow rescue collie, and Hobbes the cat who
comes on walks, too. He adored Rian, a showy, feisty lady who tried to get him to
play. He never was a playboy but he adored his lovely lady friend. Laddie Black was
kind to all fellow creatures.
This spring Rian and Blackie experienced
a terrible re-occurence of the whipworm. It left them weak. Then early in the summer,
nights began to be very difficult for Blackie ( and us, too). He cried. Often he
could not walk or get up. I gave him more Rimadyl and valerian. Walks became shorter
and more infrequent. He began to cry most the night. And then he cried days, too.
I had to use towels as a sling to get him up. I knew it was time to say goodbye.
I called Dr. Devon. She came out one fine morning. We went outside on the green grass
under the trees. She said a kind of prayer reminding him and us that death is a liberation
from the body, and gave him a shot. It was swift acting. Within seconds Laddie Blackie
relaxed and died so peacefully. I cried. I wish we all could have such a brave life
and a good death.
Devon Trottier, V.M.D.
Having taught us a truer meaning
of patience and compassion
You showed us the face of
Our fears and frustrations
And granted us forgiveness
by the depth of your love.
We thank you for blessing your lives.