This is the 2nd in a two part post in which I want to share with you the stories of the animals that have enriched my life as only animals can. In my last post I shared with you the stories of two cats, a rabbit and a dog that shared my life, but there are also two Basset Hounds who have enriched my life more than I could have imagined.
A week to the day after my sweet dog Bailey’s passing, there was a litter of puppies born to a Basset Hound and a Black Lab belonging to a customer of a local bank that I was working for at the time. When he found out that my dog had passed away he suggested I visit these puppies. I eventually gave in and of course I came home with an adorable Basset Hound/Labrador mix who I named Sophie. My mother reminded me that my Great Grandmother’s name was Sophie and perhaps naming a dog after her was not the most appropriate thing to do. Just for the record, I did not name my dog after my Great Grandmother; I just liked the name Sophie. Lucy the cat was larger than Sophie at the time and when Sophie arrived, Lucy made it very clear to this crazy puppy exactly who was in charge and it was not the puppy. Sophie became my constant companion. She is a social butterfly who loves everyone and will give you a big wet kiss across the face before you know what hit you.
In Sophie’s world it is always time to play. Her nickname is the “Energizer Bunny” because she never wears out. She has the body and legs of a Basset Hound, the head, tail, personality and energy of a Lab. She does that great head tilt when you talk to her. I call her a “Bassadore”, she is a Lab stuck in a Basset Hound body. Sophie has the greatest personality and if she were human, she would be the person everyone wants to be friends with. Sophie does not allow anyone to be sad or mad; those emotions are simply not in her world. She is happy and wants everyone around her to be happy. When you spend time with her you can’t help but smile and laugh. Sophie lives her life by some pretty simple rules. Every creature is a potential new friend, sometimes you have to put your butt on the floor in order to get a treat, every fifteen minutes is a new day, a walk is good but a car ride is much more exciting, always greet the one you love as if you haven’t seen them in years, always get the best spot on the couch and sometimes you might have to growl a little to protect the one you love.
Sophie is now 6 years old, loves to watch any program on the Animal Planet channel, hates it when I am on the phone, will "shake" and "high five" for a treat, and goes to bed every night with her favorite chew bone. She doesn’t chew on it, just lays it nicely beside her and goes to sleep. Many dogs have a favorite stuffed toy or blanket they like to sleep with, my dog has her chew bone. If it falls out of the bed during the night, she will wake me up to retrieve it instead of getting it herself. She will whine until I do it, so there is no ignoring her when this happens. She has me trained very well.
A year after bringing Sophie home, a cute Basset Hound who I named Molly came into my life. My Great Aunt was named Margaret and she went by Molly. This time I did have to admit to my mother that I named a dog after a relative. But the name really fit her and I liked the name. Once again, Lucy the cat was larger than this little puppy and once again, Lucy made sure this puppy also knew who was in charge and once again, it was not the puppy. Molly had a rough first year, was sick a lot and we made numerous trips to the veterinary clinic. She was treated for various stomach and GI issues and had to undergo emergency surgery after her spay surgery to replace sutures which she was having a reaction to. At six months old she underwent surgery on her leg to correct a problem in her knee.
Just after turning one year old, Molly became very sick and it was thought that she had an obstruction in her intestines, however once in surgery it was discovered that she did not have an obstruction and whatever was showing on the x-ray was no longer there. Molly however would not wake up from the anesthesia and her body temperature was dropping dangerously low. She was transferred to a trauma center in Eden Prairie. They worked on her through the night to raise her body temperature; however she still would not wake up from the anesthesia. She was kept in intensive care, hooked up to all kinds of monitors. They explained to me that she was not sleeping; she was in a state similar to being in a coma. They believed she could hear me because she would whimper when I would leave her side but when I would come back and touch her and talk to her she would stop, so they allowed me to stay in intensive care with her, hoping my presence might help her to come around.
On the second day they asked me what I wanted them to do if she went into heart failure. Did I want them to use extreme measures to bring her back possibly putting her through much pain and not knowing if it would matter or should we leave it in God’s hands and let her go? They did not expect her to survive and I was heartbroken. Molly however, had different plans and hung on through the day. After some testing it was finally discovered that she had Addison’s disease. Addison’s is rare and hard to diagnose because it mimics many other medical issues and many dogs die before they are diagnosed because of this. Addison’s affects the adrenal gland which controls the electrolytes in her body. It also affects the hormone that creates glucose, which controls stress in her body. Her body had gone into an “Addison’s Crisis”. Once they began to treat her for it, she woke up. It had been three days.
By the fourth day she was walking and eating again and on the fifth day I took her home. She is strong and very strong willed. Molly has taught me much about being strong, resilient and never giving up. Addison’s dogs can’t handle anesthesia if their Addison’s disease is not controlled which is why she would not wake up from her surgery. It was a bit of a miracle that she woke up from the previous surgeries. It took several months to get Molly’s medication regulated and for me to learn the signs of when I needed to adjust her medication. She takes a steroid pill each day to control the stress hormone and she gets an injection every 21 days to balance out the sodium and potassium in her body. Each morning I say to Molly “let’s have a pill” and she runs to the kitchen and waits for me to give it to her. I know she is actually waiting for her treat that she gets after taking her pill. After she receives her injection at the veterinary clinic she patiently stares at the container of treats until she is given one as she knows “going to the vet” actually means “we get treats” and she knows exactly where they keep them.
President Kennedy had Addison's Disease and Molly takes the same medication he did to control it. This is Molly's claim to fame! She recently had some cysts on her eyes that needed to be surgically removed and I was a nervous wreck the day of her surgery, but we have a wonderful veterinarian who cares for her, and Molly handled it like any other “normal” dog. It is a huge relief to know that she is able to handle a surgery if need be.
Molly lives a happy life, does normal dog things and will live a normal life expectancy. Addison’s is an expensive disease but there was never a question in my mind that I would make the adjustments in my life in order to afford her care. She is a very special dog, who is loved very much and we have a very special connection. She is a typical Basset Hound with goofy characteristics. She regularly sleeps on her back with her mouth wide open, a very funny and unladylike pose. She understands way too much when I talk to her and even “talks” back to me with an array of mumbles, grumbles and that great Basset Hound bay. She is also a very gentle soul.
I watched Molly one day as she was laying in the yard at a family gathering. My 4 year old niece was holding up Molly’s big Basset Hound ear and whispering into it. I asked my niece what she was doing and she informed me that she was telling Molly a secret. Molly just laid there and let that little girl talk into her ear for a long period of time. Whatever the secret was, it will be safe with Molly. Molly is 76 pounds, but thinks she is a 20 pound puppy who can still climb on my lap and lay her head on my shoulder. She is now 5 years old, loves to snuggle, loves squeak toys, sleeps in front of a fan in the summer, loves a bath, and is the first to let me know when it is time for dinner. She is my sweet girl.
Bandit the rabbit was living in my home at the time Sophie and Molly each came along. Bassets were originally bred to hunt rabbits, however someone forgot to tell Sophie and Molly about that. Bandit was larger than these puppies when each of them arrived and both of them were scared of this huge bunny but grew to become her friend. Lucy the cat can regularly be found grooming Sophie or chasing Molly’s tail and they allow her to do so with no concern. These two dogs, one cat and one rabbit all peacefully co-existed in my home. Sometimes friendships blossom in unusual places.
These wonderful animals do not always behave properly, sometimes they smell bad and they are all bed hogs. They know when I am happy and they get excited. They know when I am sad and they lay on my lap to comfort me. They understand when I am sick and they watch over me. They greet me each time I return to my house as if they haven’t seen me in years, even if I have only stepped outside to get the mail. They have brought my blood pressure down and my spirits up numerous times. Sharing your life with these animals can be costly and it is a commitment for life. As you can see by my experiences, there is no guarantee what their health will be or how long they will be with us, but I can tell you that there is a guarantee of unconditional love, moments of great joy, hours of entertainment and great companionship. The happiness they bring to my life has far outweighed the heartache I have felt when one leaves me or when one becomes ill. My home is filled with photos of them; they are my goofy four legged “kids”.
Animals are not my whole life, but they have helped to make my life whole. There are many animals just waiting at the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society to share their love and companionship with you. I hope that Sophie, Molly, Lucy, Ethel, Bandit and Bailey, the animals who have enriched my life, will help you to consider bringing an animal into your home. Their love is pure and their companionship is priceless.