Two days before Christmas, I received a special gift. We welcomed our newest foster dog into our home; our sweet, sweet Zada. She came to us half starved, submissive and scared. We could see that she was not used to people being nice to her and that she had not been given much of anything in her short life. We could see that she had not known very much love, if any at all. I am certain that nobody had ever told her that she was a very good girl. I began to tell her how much she was loved and how she was a good and sweet girl. As I would speak to her she would look at me and look as if she were searching my face and eyes for meaning. She had the most soulful, deep, beautiful, brown eyes, that I think I have ever seen. In those eyes there was intensity and you could see such intelligence. She was extremely smart and eager to please. I knew she was the kind of dog that would change somebody's life. The kind that people describe as "the best dog I ever had".
We began her house-training immediately and though we could tell that she had never been an inside dog she very quickly began to let us know when she needed to go outside. I would walk with her out to the grass and when she would "go" I would tell her that she was a "good girl". She would watch me and I could see her eyes brighten with a touch of something. Maybe it was joy, or maybe she was proud of herself, but whatever it was, it was also bright with love. She loved me unconditionally. She began to follow me around and would stay by my side throughout the day. When I would sit down on the couch she was the one that was laying or sitting next to me. She had taken over the "sweet" spot and all the other dogs let her.
On Christmas day she didn't want to come out of my room to be with me. She came out to potty but would go straight back to lay on my pillows alone. We didn't know it then but this would be the beginning of her fight for her life. We knew that she was pregnant and thought that she was just having normal pregnancy behavior. By the next day she seemed to be back to her usual self, following me around and hanging out with me. The only unusual thing was that she didn't seem to have an appetite. For her that was very different as she had been eating every meal as if she may never get another. Again we thought it was related to her pregnancy but we made an appointment with the vet for the following day, just to be safe.
The vet drew some blood and took an x-ray. He found that she was to have a family of at least 7 and he also found a low grade bacterial infection of some kind. He prescribed anti-nausea meds, a yummy diet, and low dose antibiotics. She seemed to do well and to improve over the next few days.
Then on Sunday, New Years day, she crashed. I woke to her vomiting profusely and unable to even hold down a sip of water. She began vomiting every 10 minutes. We rushed her to the E.R. and she was put into I.C.U. The Rescue spent several hundred dollars doing all that was necessary to save these precious lives. I have never seen anything like it. Zada's body fought hard to live. When the vets said that she would not make it through the night, Zada proved them wrong. When the vets said that the puppies were dead, an ultra-sound proved that there were at least 7 little heart beats fighting to survive. Zada was a good momma. She gave everything she had to keep those puppies safe. In the end though, she couldn't fight it any more. The vet gave her the strongest antibiotics that were available. They also gave her some strong pain meds so that she could rest. They knew that this was a last-ditch effort and would most certainly mean that the pups would not survive.
On Tuesday night I brought her home to sleep in her own familiar home and lay on her own fluffy, warm, pillow bed. I laid with her and spoke softly to her. I told her how sorry I was that she had never had a chance to know love until now. I told her that I loved her and that she was indeed a very good girl. She had been given strong pain meds and she slept peacefully that night for the first time in several days. The following morning she didn't awaken. Sometime in the night she had quietly slipped out of consciousness and into a deep coma from which she could not awaken.
She fought hard to live but in the end she lost her fight. I will never forget my Zada Bear. She has crossed the Rainbow Bridge and is now running and playing with her 7 new puppies. She is being loved and cared for by our Father and she now truly knows what a very good girl she has always been.
Please don't be too sad for her. She is happy now. She will be waiting for me at the end of that bridge when my own time comes. With the deepest, most soulful eyes now filled with as much joy as they can hold. And a big ol' coonhound smile on that sweet face!