Friday, June 29, 2007

Bama's Story

Although Bama's miracle was not the physical healing I had hoped, her true miracle was how she touched the lives of so many people. If you are new to her story, please begin with the first post to learn more about this remarkable little dog. Even though she is no longer physically in this life, she continues to give.

Wagging My Tail

As I mentioned in The Simple Life, Bama found joy in desperate circumstances. At times I have overwhelming grief, but I realize grieving is important and healthy, as difficult as it is. I'm unemployed and am experiencing financial challenges. I live with chronic pain. I guess all that qualifies as desperate.

Yet, thanks to the gift of inspiration my little dog gave me, I'm wagging my tail. I have much to be thankful for. My elderly father had lung cancer three years ago and is still alive and doing well. He lives with me and is an incredible source of love and support. I have two wonderful dogs that deserve to have their stories told, too. I have many friends and family who care about what happens to me. I have the comfort of knowing that Bama is helping others with her story. I have a roof over my head and too much food in my belly. I have books to read and technology to express myself. I have a functioning car and have been able to fill it with gas. I live in a society that has unemployment compensation. I have a creative, intelligent mind, that despite inattentive ADD, works pretty well. I have much hope for the future. Truly, I am blessed. I know joy. Bama must be patting me on the head and scratching me behind the ears. I'm learning the lesson she had for me.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Simple Life

One of Bama's vets posted some heartfelt comments about Bama. I thought it was interesting that he mentioned her appreciation of the simple things in life. I had the same thought about Bama this weekend. When she was well, she found great joy in burying under the covers and snuggling next to me at night. When she was injured, she enjoyed lying in a soft crate on the bed beside me as I patted and cooed to her. She enjoyed barking at the neighborhood dogs as wrapped like a mummy in bandages, she sat in her stroller like royalty. She enjoyed lying in the big chair, watching life go on around her. Perhaps she enjoyed these simple things because for the first six months of her life she knew only neglect, hunger, and abuse. Or maybe Bama enjoyed these simple things simply because that is the way of dogs. You might be one of the many people with fibromyalgia and other painful conditions that are finding their way to this page. If so, perhaps it will help you, as it has me, to think about all the simple things we have in our lives that could bring us joy, despite the pain, if we choose to focus on them.

Another interesting comment by her vet was her trusting nature. The vets frequently commented about how she let them treat her without complaint, as though she knew they were trying to help. When Bama first came into my life, she was not that way. Even the littlest noise startled her, and she was terrified of everybody and everything. It even took awhile for her to be comfortable with Dad and the other dogs. I don't know why she was immediately comfortable with me, except that she somehow sensed that we were meant to be together. Truly, it is remarkable how a little dog could take the risk trust people again--even people who were causing her pain as they worked so hard to help her. Forgiving mankind is not always easy for people or animals, but doing so allowed Bama to experience joy in her simple life.

I'm going to post Dr. McNeel's comments here. I'm afraid they will be missed as a link on the home page. I am grateful to him for adding to Bama's legacy:

Allan McNeel said...
As a member of Bama's medical team, I wanted to reflect on Bama's courage, the owners love, and the sadness of Bama's passing.As Veterinarians we talk about the Human-Animal bond and what it means to our well being. But what makes that bond strong in some situations? I believe it is like a good marriage. Each person/pet involved contributes to each others well being. This relationship was very strong as seen in both Bama and her owner.

Bama endeared all that met her. She had a kind nature and trusted all. You would look at her wounds and wonder how this animal was still alive, but then you would look at her attitude and willingness to live and doing everything for Bama was a must.

Even before Bama died she had to be feeling the effects of her failing kidneys, Bama showed her gusto for life and her owners love.In lifes journey what consistently amazes me about our pets is exemplified by Bama's story. She showed happiness with the simple things in life. Bama was just happy to be with her companions, whether is was just to sit quietly with them, or a gentle scratch behind the ear, Bama was happy. Bama did not know or particularly care what would happen next, she was just happy with what she had. May she rest in peace.

June 24, 2007 12:51 PM

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bama's Story

Although Bama's miracle was not the physical healing I had hoped, her true miracle was how she touched the lives of so many people. If you are new to her story, please begin with the first post to learn more about this remarkable little dog. Even though she is no longer physically in this life, she continues to give.

Thank you!

I would like to thank all of you who have been reading Bama's story. I have been surprised, humbled, and comforted by the number of people who have visited this blog. Knowing that she is touching others has made the grief and pain of her loss a little easier. Those of you who have fibromyalgia seem to be most inspired by her story because you face the challenge of daily life with chronic pain as I do. For example, Blue Mist responded after reading this blog, "Thank you BAMA for showing us the meaning of truly living each day to it's fullest and the value of every single day!"

I also appreciate the compassion of friends and relatives who are making this journey seem not so lonely. The vets and staff at the vet hospital sent me a beautiful sympathy card with personal comments from each of them. They even surprised me by mailing me a clay imprint of her paw and a poem. They have also grieved deeply over Bama's loss. I've invited them to share their thoughts about it here, but it seems to be too painful for them. I believe they will when they are ready. I hope they realize how much I value the extra time they gave me with Bama.

I am staying true to my commitment to find another job instead of going on disability. I'm applying for another job this week. I don't know if this is the next step in my destiny, but I believe it's important for me to be open to possibilities.

I want to write about BigDog and Buster soon and will continue to add updates when the muse taps me on the shoulder.

Thank you again for caring.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Friend and Inspiration

My father and I planned to bury Bama this weekend. We wanted to give the vets time to decide if there was anything else they could learn from her through further testing. My brother was going to help us bury her with the other dogs that have graced our lives, to become part of the land that had been their home. However, today I realized that I needed to honor Bama in a different way. Bama showed me in those last 30 days that what she wanted most in life was simply to be with me. I've decided to have her cremated so that no matter where I might live, Bama will be there with me. I've ordered a wooden photo box. The inscription on the little brass plate will read
My Friend and Inspiration

It's interesting that I was looking at the channel guide and saw that Wayne Dyer was speaking on PBS tonight about inspiration. I've seen it on the guide a couple of times over the last year, but when I tried to watch it, the station did not actually carry the program. I've been thinking quite a bit about how Bama has inspired me. I've already blogged about how she has inspired me to keep working instead of going on disability. But she has also inspired me in another way. I've dealt with chronic pain by trying to simply block it out and keep functioning as much as possible. The problem is that when you ignore physical pain, there's also a tendency to ignore everything else about yourself. Even if you don't deal with pain, you probably know what I'm talking about. Ned Hallowell has written a book called Crazy Busy. I don't know how many of you remember how families used to sit on their front porches in the evening, telling stories and watching life go by--simply enjoying being instead of doing. If you are not old enough to remember, you have probably seen the Andy Griffith reruns that feature frequent "settin' a spell." Society demands have changed considerably these days, but so have the demands we place on ourselves, blocking us from enjoying ourselves, other people, and everything else about this glorious world.

Grieving the loss of Bama this week has been agonizing. All my current and previous dogs have come into my life for a reason. They have given me much more than I have given them. (Perhaps I will blog BigDog and Buster's stories in the future.) As I was grieving for Bama the other day, I heard an inner voice that I attribute to God say, "Do you know why I gave Bama to you? You have been in awe of her love for you. Do you not realize that my love for you goes far beyond her love? You are worthy of love, and you are worthy of giving love to yourself as well as to others. How would your life change if you did?"

So I have been thinking about how my life would change if I loved and respected myself as much as Bama did. I believe my life will change dramatically as I continue to learn to hold myself in higher regard. Wayne Dyer ended his program with a quote that I think he said came from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Thus you will serve others as you serve yourself." The quote reminded me of how Jesus said we should love others as we love ourselves. Apparently, we cannot effectively give to others what we do not give ourselves. Thank you, Bama, for showing me the importance of learning to serve myself.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

To Honor Bama's Vets, Techs, and Vet Staff

Today I needed to stop by the vet hospital, and I was again touched by the compassion of the vets, techs, and administrative staff. They are also grieving Bama's loss; how they loved that little dog! The vet I spoke to today talked about how their body of knowledge increased dramatically by treating such a severely injured dog. I believe many vets would have given up before they started, but the vets and techs at the vet hospital and emergency clinic were as committed to fighting with Bama as I was. We all saw how much my little lamb wanted to live. They gave her an invaluable 30 days, much of it spent where she most wanted to be--at home with her family. Their approaches were creative and innovative. And when they could do no more, they understood that Bama and I needed to be together as she was dying. They not only made room for my Dad and me in the midst of all the other work they had to do, including vital work they needed to do for Bama, they continually asked us if there was anything we needed or anything they could do for us.

Do I regret not taking her to Virginia Tech? Not for a second. These people were meant to be in our lives at this time. Bama imprinted their hearts for a reason, and they were the exact people we needed to give her this precious extension of life. I am honored that they were in the right place at the right time to be there for us.

I hope that none of them will waste energy second guessing themselves. I will not taint Bama's memory with false guilt, and I don't want any of them to do so either. Hindsight is always 20/20. The usefulness of that hindsight is not to say, "If only, if only." Bama's legacy is to take the new knowledge and use it to save other beloved pets in the future. All of the vets, techs, and administrative staff have played an invaluable role in Bama's miracle.

Vets and techs have an extremely stressful job. If you are like me, you have probably taken them for granted over the years of your pets' lives. I will never do so again. They see the wonders of healing at times, but they are also the ones who must inject the needle or hold the animal when no more can be done. Along with examples of the best of humanity, they also see the worst, as well as the animals who suffer at their hands. Their hours are long and their sacrifices many. I am grateful for the work they do.

Because they were touched by Bama, I have invited the vets and techs who worked with her to share their thoughts about her here. I also hope that the administrative assistants will share their memories of Bama. Dad and I visited the hospital or emergency clinic with Bama everyday. Their smiles and courtesy helped make those times much easier.

The comments of these professionals are a way to help memorialize Bama and a way to honor their efforts on her behalf. I also invite any of you who are reading to share your thoughts about Bama as well as any stories you have about how vets, techs, and other vet staff that have worked with your beloved pets have made a difference in your life.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Still a Miracle

Yesterday was one month since Bama's accident. I had hoped to post more pictures and a celebration of her progress. Instead, the previous post conveys sad news. It describes how I lost Bama on Friday. I wanted to let you know what that post contained before you read it.

My hopes for Bama's recovery were high, as those of you who have followed this blog know. The vets and I were blindsided by what happened. They are still discussing possibilities, and you might want to continue to follow this blog for a while. If they discover the cause for her rapid decline, it may be something you will want to know.

I debated about deleting this blog when Bama's path to recovery did not end as I hoped. I wanted so badly to be able to take Bama in to visit people who are coping with illness to inspire them with her fight to live. Then I realized that Bama's efforts deserved to be memorialized and celebrated. Even in her death she inspired me. Some of the vets have been following this blog, and after Bama died, one of them said to me, "You can't give up and go on disability. You do have more to give." Yes, I will honor Bama's memory by continuing to give what I can.

I refuse to taint Bama's memory by false guilt. I am human, and I made a costly mistake. My love for my little dog was pure; I would never have intentionally hurt her. Dogs do live in the moment. Dad kept Bama in a dog bed on his lap after she was injured. Much to my surprise, when I let Bama out on the driveway to walk, she walked to back of the van and looked up at me expectantly to put her in with the other two dogs. It wasn't a question of forgiveness to her. She never associated me with what happened to her. That's another lesson I want to remember. I think it's easy to try to make people feel responsible and guilty for things they do that are unintentional. I want to give others permission to be human, too.

This little dog gave so much to me. Four years was much too short to have her in my life. A wise person once wrote, "It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all." You may wonder if I regret the thousands of dollars that it cost to keep Bama with us for an extra thirty days. I don't regret a penny. In those thirty days, I learned how much she meant to me; I was able to convey to her how much she meant to me by my care of her; and she taught me never to give up. I am not poorer; I am richer because of those thirty days.

What do I hope to accomplish by leaving this blog on the Internet? Many people have shared stories of their not-on-purpose with a dog. Because of what they have shared, I have added stickers with the word "dogs" to the handle of my car door and my window to help me remember when I am busy and distracted that the dogs are in the back of the van. I will never use the remote to close the van when the dogs are traveling with me. Perhaps those of you who are reading this will also take these lessons to heart. Perhaps, like me, some of you will be inspired to keep fighting when life becomes challenging.

I hope that some of you might be inspired to add a rescued pet to your life. Maybe you have hesitated because you remember the pain of losing an animal you loved. Bama's life is etched in mine, and I am better for it. I have come to believe as Cesar Millan says that dogs come into our lives for a reason--to teach us about ourselves. Bama certainly accomplished her purpose, as has every other dog in my life. When the time is right, I will welcome the next dog to enter my life with open arms. I hope you will do the same.

If Bama has touched your life, please add a comment. Let's bring as much good as we can from her memory.

Tragedy and Heartbreak

The storm Friday night seemed a metaphor for the gut-wrenching grief I experienced. A light that I had once taken for granted in my life was gone, leaving a black hole in my soul. Little Bama died unexpectedly that day.

Thursday, Bama had surgery. I had written in Thursday's post that she seemed to have a hard time recovering--was still groggy. She had diarrhea that night, which she hadn't experienced since I started her on yogurt about a week after her surgery. Unfortunately, I didn't realize it was a serious symptom; I thought it was difficult for her to overcome the anesthesia. I fed her yogurt, some chicken soup, and water along with giving her pills that afternoon. She still seemed to be urinating without problem. That night, I hesitated about feeding her dog food along with giving her water and yogurt, but I decided to do so to keep her protein up. She ate most of the can.

Around midnight, I put her in the soft crate on the bed beside me. When I woke up about 6:30, she had vomited. The smell did not wake me because I had become accustomed to the strong odor that always came from her wounds. I cleaned her up, and when I took her out, she didn't want to walk or make a puddle. We took her to the vet hospital about 8:00 for her bandage changes. When the vet saw her, he was shocked at how week she looked. When he undid the bandages, they were dry, and he suspected her kidneys were failing. He called me back to talk to me while he was changing her bandages. I hadn't seen her legs for a long time. All the wounds were closing and healing. They looked unbelievably good--except for the dryness. He hurried through the bandage changes so they could start her on IV fluids immediately.

What was happening? The vet told me to go home, and he would call me. It wasn't long after Dad and I got home that I was gathering some yogurt and her pills to take back to the vet. I didn't want to be away from her. Just as we were about to go back to the car, the vet called. "Bama's in trouble," he said. "Her kidneys are failing and her platelets are extremely low." I asked him if I could come to feed her, and he said yes. "I never saw this coming," he said. None of us did.

When I arrived at the vet, they had called someone who owns a greyhound, and they were extracting blood from the dog for Bama. The staff let Dad and me go to her crate, where they had her on a heating pad and wrapped with blankets. She lifted her head and wagged her tail when she heard my voice. The vet told me, "She's fighting to stay alive. Her blood is getting into her lungs."

They placed the blood on her cage and gave her steroids. We were all still hopeful--at least for a while. Indeed, she still seemed to be fighting to live.

Before his owner left, Keno the greyhound, seemed to know that Bama was getting his blood. He walked over to me as I was standing in front of Bama's cage and gave me that sweet greyhound smile. "Thank you," I said, as I patted his head. His warm eyes seemed to say, "You're welcome."

"Keno's blood has saved a lot of lives," the vet said. I'm extremely grateful to Keno's owner--and, of course, to Keno. As the vet commented later, "We do everything we can to try to save Bama."

Despite everyone's efforts, Bama continued to worsen. Dad's dog Jazzie was terrified of the vet hospital, so when I realized she was dying, we kept her at home so she could die comfortably with Dad by her side. I had seen the progression. I knew Bama was leaving me, as much as she didn't want to.

I am grateful to the staff for letting Dad and me stay with her. Even at this stage, all she wanted was to be with me. Although it must have been extremely difficult for her to move much, she shifted her body up against the edge of the cage so she could lean against me. I tried to lift her gently back on the heating pad, but she moved against me again. This time, I didn't stop her. I told her how much I loved her as I stroked her. I used my pet names for her--Bambi, Bambalina, Bambacita--and the tailed wagged just a little again. The vet eventually shifted her to the other side, and I sat it a chair so our heads were close togther. I blew gently in her face and told her how proud I was of her.

When I knew the end was coming soon, I asked if they could put her in my lap. They tried, but all the tubes were getting tangled. When they picked her up to take her off my lap to put her back in the cage, she let go. It was clear she was leaving us, and I asked them to inject her to end it. As she breathed for the last time, I was able to to tell her again that I loved her and was proud of her.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Buster Pouts

After my father's 14-year-old dog Jazzie died, a "funny beagle thing" (as one of the vets calls him) that had adopted us a few months earlier became Dad's dog. (In the picture, Dad takes Buster for a speed walk using his scooter. I think he was impressed when he saw an older guy walking a dog that way on The Dog Whisperer and decided he could do it, too!) Dad went to Georgia to visit my brother's family over Christmas, and Buster would go to Dad's closet and sniff his clothes and then look at me as if to say, "Where is he? Is he coming back?"

Anyway, Bama usually sticks close to me and Buster sticks close to Dad, even sleeping on his bed with him at night. BigDog goes back and forth between the two of us.

Both dogs have been gentle and sweet with Bama. The picture is of BigDog sniffing Bama a few days after the accident. "What happened to you?" he seems to be asking.

Yesterday afternoon, Dad poochsat Bama while I went to finish up some things at my old job. I placed Bama in the soft crate on the floor beside the chair Dad sits in when he watches TV. When I got home, Dad said, "Did you see Buster?"

"Yes," I said. "He and BigDog greeted me at the door."

Dad shook his head. "I've been looking for him all afternoon. I thought he got out somehow when I took Bama outside for a bit. I even shook the jar with chicken jerky treats. [The dogs LOVE those!] BigDog came running for a treat, but Buster never showed up."

We finally figured out he had been hiding under a day bed in my bedroom all afternoon, apparently in protest of Dad giving all that attention to Bama. Oh, well. I guess we'll get all the dynamics straightened out when Bama is well.

Bama had surgery today. They were adding some sutures to tighten the wounds more. I didn't get to talk to the vet today when I picked her up, but the tech said she's continuing to improve. I know they are necessary, but surgery days are tough. Bama takes quite a while to shake off the grogginess from the anesthesia.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Belly Rub!

Belly Rub Bliss

You can probably tell that Bama's favorite thing is a belly rub from the picture on this blog's banner. I've lightly touched her bandaged belly occasionally to give her a belly rub approximation. Today she had an area below her bandages that had healed enough that I could actually give her a mini-belly rub! She loved it! The tail wagged enthusiastically the entire time. When I stopped, she raised her leg to ask for more!

Keeping Up with Bama

Road Runner

I let Bama walk around the parking lot while my father was in the doctor's office today. I couldn't believe how energetic she was! It won't be long before it will be challenging to keep up with her. She's practically running on those bandaged legs!
You can see where they clipped her back leg. She had a wound there that is healed. The scar is already fading. She's beginning to look much more alert--truly bright-eyed and bushy tailed!

Bama's Pill Pusher--Literally!

I've bemoaned the challenge that giving Bama her pills has become. Yesterday, I bought a pill crusher and tried crushing the three pills she has to take at the same time and adding them to her yogurt. It works! She still swallowed the yogurt without hesitation. Whew!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Problem of Pain

Bama's Pain

Somebody mentioned to me in an e-mail how much pain Bama has endured. I want to reassure everyone that the vets, beginning with the emergency clinic, have done an excellent job managing Bama's pain. When I first found her, I think she was somewhat in shock--she wasn't licking her wounds or anything as we drove her to the emergency clinic. I read somewhere that dogs seem to have the ability to shut down on pain when it gets to a certain level--a skill they needed to survive in the wild. Bama didn't show signs of being in pain. At the emergency clinic, they immediately gave her something to block the pain. She wore a pain patch as well as taking two Rymadyl a day for about the first week and a half or so after the accident. She was still using the patch in the picture and looks more groggy than in pain. She was still wagging her tail that day, despite everything.
She no longer uses a pain patch, but she continues to take Rymadyl. I get the impression from the way she acts now that her wounds itch more than hurt as she's beginning to heal.

Personal View of Pain: Warning--this becomes a rant and rave about fibromyalgia

My guess is that most vets are trained to think of ending suffering when an animal is severely injured, which means euthanizing them. Perhaps my viewpoint is skewed because of dealing with a high level of pain personally. I remember a point when the pain level from the fibromyalgia that resulted from a car accident was extremely high (feels like having a migraine all over your body--results in vomiting when it gets that high) without relief for an extended period of time. I told one of my friends, "If I were a dog, they would have euthanized me." I refused to consider narcotics because I felt that all I needed was a drug addiction on top of everything else I was dealing with. The medications I do use take some of the edge off the pain but do not stop it.

If any of you reading this deal with fibromyalgia, you know the frustration of having a medical condition without an identifiable cause. For example, I participated in a study of myofacial pain at a university. As part of the process, I was interviewed by a psychologist. Because I minored in Counseling Psychology when I obtained my Ph.D. in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders, I am not intimidated by such an interview. Some of the folks in my Counseling Psychology class were going to be outstanding therapists; others, I shall simply say, were not. My concern was that some people with chronic pain who were interviewed by this man would be victimized by his comments.

I explained to this man that I saw a pattern of my pain being worsened by changes in barometric pressure. I tended to be better at forecasting the rain than the Weather Channel. I told him that I would wake up in the night, writhing in pain, turn on the Weather Channel, and a low pressure front would be moving through. He was so determined to prove that this pain was psychological rather than medical that he said, "Maybe you saw a cloud in the sky before you went to bed and just didn't realize it." Oh, please! Give me a break!

I told this man that Bruno Bettleheim said that autism and childhood schizophrenia were caused by "refrigerator mothers" who were unable to connect emotionally to their children. He recommended a "parentectomy" as a cure. In the sixties and seventies, his words were grabbed like gold by professionals. Now we can see the medical bases for these conditions in brain scans that were unavailable in Bettelheim's day. Can you imagine the anquish that added to these moms who were already suffering from having a child with one of these conditions?

"One day," I said to the psychologist, "you are going to owe me an apology!" I hope that day comes soon.

The danger is that when a condition is accepted as psychological, it slows research that could ultimately find the medical cause. It's scary to think that medical professionals would buy into the psychological explanations so easily. Surely they are not vain enough to assume that medicine has all the answers already and anything that is unknown must be psychological. Surely they are wiser than that! Someone once told me, "I don't believe in fibromyalgia." I assure you, this is not a condition that anyone would want for a religion. Some people say that depression causes fibromyalgia because people with fibromyalgia tend to score high on depression scores. The only way that could be said is if they tested them prior to developing fibromyalgia. When pain takes away so much of your life, you would be crazy NOT to be depressed.

Well, anyway, I finally decided that some life was better than no life, so I picked myself up off the couch and found a way to keep working. When I lost the current job that I had loved so much, I was tired of fighting to keep working. Bama's love of life--and for her, life was giving and being a part of our little family--despite what she endured, caused me to realize that I must also continue to fight to have a productive, meaningful life.

As you can tell, my view of pain is probably different than it is for most people. When I made the decision not to have Bama euthanized, it was because I was confident that she and the vets could manage the pain. I once attended a seminar by Cesar Millan who emphasized that dogs live in the moment, not in the past or future as humans tend to do. When Bama gets past this ordeal, she will truly be past it. Then she will have each day of the rest of her life without holding on to the pain of this current time. I hold the vision of that day in my mind and heart. Dogs truly have so much to teach us.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Learning to Cope with a Not On-Purpose from Oprah's Guests

Some great news about Bama
Today one of the vets told me with a wide smile that Bama looked "awesome!" when they changed her bandages today. Also, she's getting feisty again. Shoving pills down her throat is becoming a huge challenge--much different from when I first started doing so. At that point, she was pretty much "whatever." Now I'm beginning to think she's a reincarnated wizard. I'm even trying to disguise the pills with her food. I'll think I have it down her throat, and then I turn around for minute. Surprise! There's a grungy looking pill stuck somewhere on her e-collar! It's all good, though. I would much rather have her acting like the old Bama, even though it's not as convenient.

Coping with a Not On Purpose
As you can imagine, what happened to Bama burdened me with incredible guilt. If only, if only, if only. I've compartmentalized the guilt as I've tried to make decisions and care for Bama, but it's still there.

I happened to catch Oprah last Friday when guests were discussing life lessons. A grandmother talked about the horror of accidentally running over and killing her grandchild with her SUV. (The person I bought my van from promised to get me sensors since he had misled me that the model I was getting already had them, but once he sold me the car, he never followed through. I wonder if those sensors would have warned me that Bama was dangling behind my van.) Another woman talked about how she fell asleep while driving and three of her six children were killed. It was agonizing to hear their pain. I am so grateful that Bama is improving. This mother and grandmother had no way to bring their loved ones back.

Dr. Robin Smith gave wise counsel regarding the false guilt we experience when we have a not on-purpose. She said letting go of the guilt would be giving ourselves a "get-out-of-jail free card." We punish ourselves, somehow believing that doing so will chip away at the pain and loss that happened from the accident. Not so. We must allow (not forgive, which implies that we did something wrong) ourselves to be human. You can read more of Dr. Smith's comments at the link I've provided above. ( )

When I first e-mailed people about what happened to Bama, some of my friends replied with stories of their own experiences with a not on-purpose. It was incredibly difficult to admit to people what I had done. In fact, when strangers ask me what happened to Bama when they see her covered in bandages. I usually reply "Car." Most of them will create their own story with that much information and not ask me any more questions. However, I realize from the responses of my friends who are burdened by false guilt in their lives that is important for me to share this experience. That is one of the primary reasons I have made this blog public.

The reality is that we are out of control with much of what happens in our lives, as much as we would like to believe otherwise. I think guilt over a not on-purpose is one of the ways we convince ourselves that we are somehow omnipotent. I have inattentive ADD, and my life is full of brain glitches that lead to a not on-purpose. This program helped me realize that instead of dragging a ball and chain of guilt around with me, I need to accept my humanity and move forward to bring as much good as possible from tragedy. I appreciate the courage of that mom and grandmother for helping me learn this important lesson. They have certainly brought good into my life by sharing their stories.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

When I First Met Bama

The accident is not the first challenge that Bama has faced. Here's the story of how Bama came into my life.

I was devastated by the loss of my beloved papillon Spockie. As a way to cope with my grief, I wanted to rescue a papillon. I searched the rescue organizations and (see banner at the bottom of this page) to try to locate a little pap. Two times I came close. At the last minute, the foster parents changed their mind. Once, I decided to run my e-mail another time before I walked out the door for the five-hour drive to pick up a dog. The foster parent had sent me an e-mail that she had "decided to keep the dog for her very own." Sigh.

About six months after I lost Spockie, I decided that all I really needed was a little dog with big ears. I was driving past a Petsmart that had a sign announcing a pet adoption day, sponsored by the local SPCA. Something told me I was going to find my dog there. As I walked around looking at the dogs, a little blonde dog jumped up to the top of her pen to greet me. She had big ears! I scratched her head between them. Then I heard a little girl behind me talking to her mother about the dog. "Please, Mom," she said, "That's the cutest little dog I've ever seen!"

Well, if you know me, you know I was going to let the child have the dog.

One of the SPCA staff saw me walking away and said, "Do you want that dog?"

"Well, I was thinking about it, but I believe that little girl wants her."

"If you think you want that dog," she said, "you go back and get her. They haven't taken her yet."

I obediently picked the little dog up. It was like lifting a feather. You could see every bone in her body, including her spine and hip bones. Bama weights close to 20 pounds now. At six months, she only weighed 12.

I took the little dog over to the table where the SPCA staff were located and sat down with her on my lap. I petted her as I talked to another staff member. I told her how I had lost my papillon. I was surprised when she said they had a black-and-white papillon at the local shelter (same coloring as Spockie) that they had rescued from a puppy mill. I looked down at the little dog in my arms and said, "What do you think? Do you want to go home with us?" She licked me on the cheek, sealing the deal. I realized at that moment I was healing from my grief. Initially, a papillon was my only desire. At that point, my desire was to have the dog I was supposed to have, even if that dog was a little mixed breed that looked like a lamb.

Although I took Bama, I was able to help rescue the papillon. The little guy in the shelter had severe behavioral issues, and the SPCA staff were concerned they were going to have to euthanize him. They didn't know about the papillon rescue organization, so I helped them make the contact. A few months later, I saw the dog I thought might be the one the SPCA had told me about on the papillon rescue website. I e-mailed the contact person, and she said yes, that was the dog and I probably saved it's life. Without their expertise, the dog would not have overcome its behavioral issues. I'm thankful I was able to bring something good out of the death of little Spockie.

So Bama came home with me. I thought she was going to be a quiet dog, but when she finally had some food in her, she became lively. She was skittish and afraid of everyone and everything for quite a while after I first got her. I tried feeding her in a crate, thinking she would feel safer because of my other dogs, but she seemed depressed and refused to eat when she was crated. I wonder whether she was in a puppy mill with a confused breeder and spent her first six months crated. What I do know, is that whatever her circumstances were, the owner did not even make the effort at least to throw her food once in a while. The fact that she had so much disdain for being crated is another reason I've been thankful that the vet hospital has allowed me to care for her at home as much as possible.

It's amazing to think how far she has come since she first came home with me. Her sweet, open temperament is much different than the scared-of-everything little dog I took into my home and heart.

From that first night I brought her home from Petsmart, Bama has slept cuddled next to me. Since the accident, she is sleeping in a soft crate that I have placed on my bed next to me. I leave the mesh door rolled up so that I can pet her and she can see me. She always liked to burrow under the covers next to me, and I think the soft crate gives her that feeling. Instead of the anxiety she seems to experience in a metal crate, this crate seems to help her relax.

I feel so fortunate that I still have her in my life.

Graphic Photo: Bama's Miracle Tailor

I'm finally caught up on this blog so people don't have to deal with long e-mails and picture attachments! Here's the news for today:

I thought you might find it interesting to learn about the creative approach the lead vet on Bama's team used to sew her up. In a previous posting, I mentioned that a couple of the vets told me he had used a technique that was similar to the way braces are gradually tightened. Today, I was able to watch a vet change bandages since it was Sunday and they were not open for other customers. Apparently, after the lead vet realized I wasn’t going to go to Virginia Tech and was relying on him for a solution, he went to Wal-mart and bought bright pink buttons, fishing line, and the little silver sinkers. I hope you are not squeamish and can look at the attached picture to see one of the wounds that uses this technique. It’s remarkable how much the wound in the picture has closed in a few days. Each day, the vets pull the string a little tighter through the sinker on the button. The sinker holds the thread against the button. Wow! Ingenious! I knew these were the right vets to help my little dog!

The vet today told me they never thought Bama would come back when her albumin level was so low. They thought she would die the same night that, out of desperation, I went to the gas station and bought her some yogurt. I don't know whether it was keeping her home, adding another antibiotic, feeding her yogurt to increase her protein level, or a combination of the three. I'm simply incredibly grateful that she is still with me.

Thanks for your interest in her story!

A New Approach and Bama's Throne

Because this e-mail from June 2 was so long, I added headings:

What I Saw on TV
Monday night I happened to record a segment of E-Vets on Animal Planet to watch the next day. I was excited when I watched it and immediately made copies for all six vets at the vet hospital. A boxer had to have a tumor removed from his leg, and the narrator was bemoaning the fact that it would leave a large hole that would be especially hard to heal on the leg. My eyes widened, “Whoa! If they think that’s a big hole,” I thought, “they ought to see the holes all over my little dog.” They used a new procedure called wound vacuuming that was unfamiliar to the vets at Cross Lanes. The TV vets cut a special sponge with a tube sticking out of it in the shape of the wound. They placed it on the wound and “vacuumed” the air out of the sponge through the tube. It formed a seal over the wound that they said bacteria could not get through. Apparently, tissue grew through the sponge. I thought this might be a good solution for Bama and rushed the DVD’s out to the vets.

Bama’s Lesson for a Vet
Even though Bama seems to be doing very well in general and some of the wounds seem to be healing at a miraculous rate, the lead vet on Bama's team (one of the top orthopedic vets in this region) was getting discouraged. He had tried to sew a couple of the large wounds, but the skin wasn’t stretching enough to hold the sutures. He had hoped to sew the large wound on her stomach and have it heal so he could use some skin for skin grafts on her legs. He said she wasn’t following the time table he had planned. He told me Bama was the most challenging case he had ever had.

The vet said he watched the video twice, but he thought the procedure could only be done on fresh wounds. He asked me again if I wanted to take her to Virginia Tech. When he asked that the first time, I told him I trusted him. When he asked a second time, I asked him what they could do for her that he couldn’t do. He said he didn’t know of anything different they would do. I asked him if I would have to leave her there, and he said yes. I said, "Bama would give up if she thought she was abandoned. She is fighting to live because she wants to stay with Dad and me."

He agreed and said that she needed me to feed her, too. I put my hand on his arm and told him, “You can do this.” He said, “Maybe I need to trust myself.” I told him I believed we were going to find a way and that good was going to come from this. I broke down a little as I shared with him how Bama had already inspired me to find a way to keep working, despite living the last 16 years in chronic pain. We need to continue to follow her lead and her timing. He agrees, and I feel secure that he and the other vets at this hospital are the right people to help Bama.

The New Strategy
The next day, he came up with a new strategy. Apparently, there is a type of bandage that takes patience. One of the vets told me it was similar to how they tighten braces to straighten teeth. These bandages are gradually tightened to stretch the skin. Each day when they change her bandages, they tighten the ones they have placed over some of her large wounds a little bit more. Today, one of the vets told me she was excited when she saw Bama. She said she hadn’t seen her for almost a week, and she couldn’t believe how well she was doing. She said she could actually tell where the skin is starting to heal around the larger wounds. YAY!

What Color Bandages?
On a lighter note, I think the lead vet grabs whatever color bandages are handy. Two of the female vets were debating yesterday about what color bandages to use. One vet said she wanted to use all one color. The other vet said, “Aw, I like it when she has different colors.” The first vet reiterated, “I don’t. I like one color.” Yesterday, Bama was all turquoise. Today, she has neon colors—pink and orange in various places—and one turquoise leg. If I were doing the bandages, I would be the same way!

Bama Wants to Live
Today several of the vets were also talking about how Bama seems to want help. They said that many dogs won’t let anyone touch them and don’t seem to want help. They just want to be left alone. It was more confirmation to me that I did the right thing by helping Bama fight for her life, rather than having her euthanized to end the suffering. Her sweet disposition and determination are winning her many fans. The words miracle and amazing frequently sprinkle their discussions about her.

To Pity or Not To Pity
One of the clients at the vet hospital started crying when she saw Bama today, saying that she hated to think about her going through that. I was surprised at her response. Because my field is special education, I learned a long time ago that pity only incapacitates people further. We must believe that people, no matter what life gives them, can overcome. Her tears made me think about that. Self-pity and pity for dogs are also incapacitating. I’ve been learning about both. Here’s an example. One time when I took Bama to the Emergency Clinic, she couldn’t walk after they did surgery to clean her wounds. Her legs were like Jello. It was the first time I gave in to pity for her. I thought they had done something to damage her more. “Poor thing, poor little thing” kept going through my mind. She continued to be unable to walk, even the next morning. When I put her down, she simple plopped on the ground like a rag doll. I was sure I was going to have to have her euthanized. “I don’t know what they did to her, but she can’t walk!” I told the vet as I carried her into the office. He placed on her the floor, and she started walking. “You little booger!” was my stunned response. I realized then that she simply had a harder time coming out of the anesthesia the clinic used, which made her legs wobbly the rest of the afternoon. Because I saw her as unable to walk, she continued not to walk until the vet, who did not have that expectation, set her down on the floor. Now I make sure that I am keeping the vision of her healthy and happy in my mind. The other day when she didn’t walk when I first put her down, I left her lying on the ground and walked away from her. When I got to the door, I turned around, and she had stood herself up, made a puddle, and was tap dancing toward me at a brisk pace.

Bama’s Kingdom
At home, Bama continues to show signs of being more like her old self. The tail is wagging much more, and she moves around frequently, even when she’s lying down. When I first brought her home, she pretty much stayed in whatever position I laid her down. Now, she joins the other dogs in barking chorus whenever there’s an interesting sound in the neighborhood. One of the frustrating ways she’s back to her old self is that she uses her acrobatic tongue to try to keep me from jamming pills down her throat. She’s becoming very skilled at hiding them in her mouth and then spitting them out when I’m no longer looking. It becomes somewhat of an amusing challenge when I have to shove six pills down her throat each day. (Yes, she does this despite the trick of holding her mouth closed and stroking her throat until she swallows. I still can’t figure out how she manages this feat.) Bama’s enjoying eating a couple of cans of Science Diet AD each day, along with a couple of containers of Activia yogurt, plus whatever high-protein treats I throw her way. The other two dogs are enjoying eating small bites of whatever she’s eating, to keep her focused on eating and to keep them from becoming competitive with her. (Currently, they are treating her gently, occasionally licking her nose or sniffing her to check how she’s doing.) Sometimes Bama almost runs when I place her down to walk from the end of the driveway to the front door. Her reward for walking is lying on her favorite chair for a while. She walks to it when she gets in the front door, stops, and looks at me expectantly. I pick her up and place the little queen on her throne. (See the picture of her semi-snoozing on her throne. What you can't tell from the picture is that her tail is wagging as I'm taking the picture--the doggie equivalent of saying cheese, I guess!)

She’s Worth It!
Most of you know me well enough to know that I am much more of a night person than a morning person. I thought I was going to be able to sleep in when my job ended. Instead, we have to have Bama at the vet between 7:30 and 8:00 AM each day—even weekends and holidays—for bandage changes and frequent surgeries. (I still can’t get to sleep until midnight or later. ~SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE~) Then an hour to three or more hours later, I bring her home, hand feed and water her, and then give her her pills for the first time that day. One of the vets was talking about how difficult this process was for me. “She’s worth it,” I replied without hesitation. Most of the time, Dad has been making the vet trips with me, holding Bama on his lap while I drive. He feels the same way. I realized the other day that I would not have been able to do this for Bama had I been working. I’m thankful I’ve been able to give a little back to this dog who has given so much to me.

Thank you!
Thanks for your support—positive thoughts, prayers, or monetary. It’s been invaluable as we have faced this challenge.

Lesson Learned from Hurricanes

Here is an e-mail I sent on May 27:

When I first moved to Mobile, AL, I was terrified by the idea of hurricanes. The natives were nonchalant when I asked them how they coped. They would shrug their shoulders and several replied, “It’s just stuff.” I’m thankful I never experienced the wrath of a Katrina while I lived there, but I did evacuate a few times. One of the benefits of dealing with a potential natural disaster is that it forces you to decide your priorities. I realized my priorities for an evacuation were my father, my dogs, family pictures, and my computer files of my creative endeavors—in that order. The rest of it truly is “just stuff.” It was devastating to see people who had to leave their pets behind during Katrina. For those of you who don’t live in hurricane prone areas, you might not realize how difficult it is for people to evacuate with pets—even when they consider them family members, especially those who were too poor or unable to find a hotel that accepted pets or a vet clinic that wasn’t already filled. Shelters typically will not accept pets. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for these people to leave their beloved animals behind.

Anyway, this is why I didn’t hesitate when the vet told me it would be extremely expensive and time-consuming to save Bama. I had decided long ago that my dogs were prioritized above “stuff.” I’m doing her nursing care—the vet said I’m probably saving $50 or $60 a day by doing so. Dad and I are beginning to assist with her bandaging, and other than a daily bandaging and/or surgery, she stays at home with us. The pet stroller has been a godsend. I sit her in it to hand-feed her and give her water from a rabbit water bottle so she doesn’t drink too fast or spill it on her bandages.

By the way, if any of you have problems getting your dog to eat when they are ill or taking antibiotics, try Activia Vanilla Yogurt by Dannon. The closest Bama came to dying was when she stopped eating and was getting too little protein. They told me she was also losing protein through her wounds, which led to extremely low levels of albumin. She swelled so badly that the tape around her neck for the catheter was choking her. I had to rush her to the emergency clinic, and they had to add about 2 ½ inches of tape to her neck. They gave her plasma the next day, which raised the level some, but it was still dangerously low. When I found out it was caused by low protein, which would eventually affect her heart and kidneys, I tried to figure out what I could do, since she didn’t seem to be willing or able to eat solid food.

About midnight last Friday, she was so low functioning that I was afraid I was going to lose her. I placed her on my lap, thinking I would much rather have her die there than in a crate at the emergency vets. Then it occurred to me that I have an extremely difficult time finishing antibiotics because they make me so nauseated, and I realized that being given hefty doses on antibiotic on an empty stomach could be doing the same thing to little Bama. I decided to go to the store to get her some yogurt to restore the good bugs in her stomach as well as giving her much needed protein. Because I’m so allergic to the stuff that if I get some on my skin, it can cause my throat to close, I had to use plastic gloves while giving it to her. The only kind they had at the gas station was strawberry, and I doubted if she would eat it, since she had been spitting everything else out and was refusing water. I pried open her mouth to stuff some in the roof of her mouth using a plastic spoon and was surprised when she swallowed it. It actually seemed to taste good to her.

By the next day, her appetite was returning (she was almost ravenous) and her protein levels increased. I purchased the Activia at the grocery store because it is supposed to contain more of the good cultures than other yogurt. I give her a couple of containers a day. If she has a couple of bites left over, I give them to my other two dogs, who also seem to love the stuff. The first thing I added to the yogurt that she also loved was the little toddler chicken sticks that look like Vienna Sausages. I remember someone who had papillons mentioned years ago that they used those when their paps had a poor appetite. The first solid food I added was Vitality Chicken Breast; Target and some of the pet stores have different types for different issues—I get the kind that has flaxseed and other stuff in it for skin.

I happened to find Oxyfresh Primorye at a local pet store. I call it Bama’s wake-up juice; she usually wakes up low energy in the morning, and I give her a couple of teaspoons using a medicine dropper before we go to the vets. By the time we get there, she is walking around the clinic, extremely alert—bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I chose it because it had cranberry juice in it, and I thought it would be good for her kidneys. Her urine was orange before I started using it, but now it looks normal. I didn’t realize that it would also have other benefits for her. I hope none of you have dogs who ever need this info, but I thought I would provide what I have learned the hard way through trial and error. I wish I had started Bama on the yogurt as soon as she started on the antibiotic. I will always give my dogs yogurt when they go on antibiotics in the future.

The vets and techs keep calling Bama amazing and remarkable. Although she still has some large open wounds that will require skin graphs, they are seeing good progress toward her healing. It’s unbelievable to me that she can walk with all the wounds she has on her legs. I have to help her get her balance, especially when she has an e-collar on. Once I do, she takes off. Because they keep splints on her front legs, it sounds like she’s tap-dancing across the floor. (I've uploaded a video of her walking on the homepage for this blog.)

I received a shock yesterday when the vet’s estimate has gone to double what he originally thought. Actually, the Vet Hospital and the Emergency Clinic have done what they can to help—even donating some of their time. All the vets and techs adore her. I actually saw the primary vet on her team give her a kiss on her forehead as he was carrying her to the treatment room. He is stopping by the vet hospital today and tomorrow to help us with her bandaging so we don’t have to go to the emergency clinic this holiday weekend.

I believe all of this is going to work out and that Bama and I will be able to “pay it forward.” Some of my dear friends have shared how they had an extremely painful experience with “an accident instead of an on-purpose.” Some have told me I need to write Bama’s story. Perhaps I will. I’ve told my vet that Bama is going to be his journal article. Also, when she is well and if I can get her beyond her terrier willfulness (which has probably aided her survival) enough to have her pass the Delta test, I believe she will help kids and even adults who feel like giving up because of their circumstances. She has certainly inspired me.

If I had given Bama up to a rescue organization because of my inability to pay for her care or if she had been abused, they probably would have done a fund raiser for her. Of course, most of the rescue organizations are for purebred dogs. Bama is a loveable mutt, and I’m not about to give her up. A couple of you have mentioned that you would like to help. It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable to do this, but I have been asked so I thought I would provide the information. If you can and decide you want to, you can contribute to Bama’s care by contacting the Cross Lanes Veterinary Hospital at (304) 776-4501 for Bama Shank. Please, please avoid feeling under any obligation. I realize that most people are strapped for money right now, especially with escalating gas prices. Because I’m not associated with a rescue group, you can’t even get a tax deduction for this. I know we will find a way. Sending positive thoughts and prayers for her recovery is an invaluable way for you to contribute. It’s wonderful to feel that support.

Thanks for your concern, dear family and friends.

Past the "Omigosh" Stage

I sent this e-mail about Bama on May 26:

The vet told me today that he thought Bama was past the “Omigosh,-she’s-going-to-die stage”!

The concern now is that her ongoing surgeries and care are going to run into several thousand dollars—not the best time to be out of a job! It is a good time to learn about faith and continue to be inspired by the miracle of this little dog’s determination. I believe that good will come of this—my hope is that eventually she will be able to be Delta certified so I can take her to visit kids who have been burned. I think Bama will give them hope.
(Here's a picture of BigDog when he visited hospitals and women's shelters. He was dressed as Elvis for Halloween.)

Family Pet Parade

The day after the accident, I went to Petsmart to find a rabbit water bottle for Bama. I knew it would be easier to give her water that way without getting her bandages wet. I also found a pet stroller that has been a godsend. I use it to take her on walks with the other dogs and to sit her up for feeding.

Warning: Graphic Photo of Early Wound Phase

This is a photo taken a few days after Bama was injured. The larger wounds that were sewn early on did not hold. The skin died around the stitches and they came loose. If they were not sewn, you would be viewing extremely large open wounds. What I did not know at the time was that she was swelling because her protein (albumin) level was so low.

Buster Thinks Bama Is An Alien!

This is an e-mail I sent friends on May 14 about Bama (five days after the accident). We were still afraid we were going to lose her at this point. She had stayed at the emergency clinic over the weekend:

Bama is still hanging in there. Last night I talked to the vet at the emergency clinic, and she was concerned about some of Bama’s wounds. Dad and I went down to see her at 12:30 AM. She perked up when she saw us. I wanted them to let me hold her all night, but they refused. Because I drank caffeine to stay awake when I drove there, I only got an hour of sleep before I had to get up to get her from the Emergency Vet before 7:30. (If you are up to 30 minutes late, they charge you an extra 30 dollars. If you are more than 30 minutes late, they “dispose” of your animal as abandoned. You all know me well enough to know that added to my sleep challenges.)

They have been filling her with so many fluids that she is looking pretty chunky. We took her to a park today before taking her back to the vet hospital this morning. She ate some egg and made huge liquid and semi-solid deposits on the grass. She was wagging her tail the whole time she was walking around on the grass. We took the other two dogs out of the car one at a time to see her. BigDog gave her kisses, and she kissed him back. Buster was scared of her e-collar at first—he looked at her like she was an alien! When I started touching her face, he decided she was safe and came over to greet her. She gave him her standard low-growl, I’m-in-charge-here-and-don’t-you-forget-it,-Bub comment. She’s a strong spirit, that one.

The vet was going to remove some more dead skin today. The way I handle something like this is to research it. I found some info on copper peptides being effective for all mammals to heal wounds and regenerate skin. The vet is going to read the research and decide about using that technique if a local pharmacy can compound some. He says he also uses sugar to help with granulation of wounds.

I told him that I hope when she is past all this that I might be able to take her to the hospital to provide pet therapy for kids who have been burned. I could tell he was touched by the thought. They all love Bama. I hope we can find some way to bring something good out of this awful tragedy.

Not an On-Purpose

For those of you who don’t know, talking about what happened to Bama on May 9 is painful. Many of my family, friends, and colleagues have expressed interest in following Bama's story, so I thought would start a blog to share her progress toward recovery. Her fight to survive is remarkable.

I have three dogs: BigDog, Buster, and Bama. (This picture is from my 2006 Christmas card. Bama is the smallest dog. All three are loveable mutts. I'll share Bama's rescue story in a later post.) My father also lives with me. Dad and I were making a quick trip to to pick up a belt for the tractor. The dogs love to ride, so we put them in the back of the van. We have blankets and a water bowl that's designed not to spill when I drive so they travel in comfort. We are careful to leave the air conditioning or heater on when we leave them in the car, if the weather dictates. To prevent Bama and Buster from jumping out of the van when we open the latch, we attach their leashes to the seat belts.

On this particular afternoon, I put BigDog in the back of the van in front of Bama. I closed the hatch with the remote. When we came back from the errand, Dad said, "Where's Bama?" I looked down at his hands, and he was holding Bama's leash and empty collar that were caught in the hatch. I did not realize she had jumped over BigDog and out of the van before I closed the hatch. The seat belt extended enough that she was able to land on the ground but not get away from the van. I had dragged her behind the van without realizing it. We had no idea what had happened to her. We didn't see any blood on the road, and I hoped she slipped the collar before she was injured.

It took us hours to find her. After driving up and down the road calling for her, I took the other two dogs out to look for Bama, but they were soon panting heavily from being unaccustomed to temperatures in the low 90's. I had to take them inside to cool them off. I became concerned about Bama having heat exhaustion, along with other injuries.

I quickly made a lost dog poster and plastered the area with it. A kind person at a nearby trailer park found her and called me after seeing the poster. Bama was lying on the driveway in front of the trailer when we finally located her over six hours after we ran the errand. When I called her name, she dragged her back legs trying to get to me. She had serious road burns all over her body. I was devastated. Thank God she had finally slipped the collar.

We rushed her to the emergency vet clinic. When they took her in a room to examine her, I stroked her head and kept blubbering, “I’m so sorry, Bama; I’m so sorry, Bama.”

One of the technicians smiled gently at little Bama and said, “Tell her ‘That’s why they call it an accident instead of an on-purpose, Mom.” Yes, it was an accident, but I kept wishing there was some way I could go back in time and undo it.

The emergency clinic gave her fluids to stabilize her until the next morning.

When we picked her up from the emergency clinic and took her to the local vet hospital the next morning, the vet was honest with us that saving Bama was going to be an extensive investment of time and money (thousands of dollars). It was going to be a lot to put her and us through. She had lost over 25% of her skin, and wounds on her side, stomach, and thigh were extremely wide and deep. Bama also had extensive wounds on her legs and feet.

I did not make the decision out of guilt, although I felt plenty of it. As difficult as it would have been, if I believed the best thing would have been to euthanize Bama and end her suffering, I would have made that choice. I thought about how Bama managed to live those hours in that heat with those injuries. She had tried so hard to come to me when she heard my voice, despite her pain. The look on her face said, "You are finally here. I've been waiting."

It is incredible to think that a creature would love you so much that she would fight so hard to stay with you. I told the vet, “If she fought so hard to live, how can we do anything but fight with her? We will find a way.” Despite the fact that I had just lost my job, I knew what I said was true.

I am so proud of this little dog. In the blogs that follow, you will understand why. I believe that good will come from this tragedy. Her determination has already deeply affected my life. After 16 years of chronic pain from a car accident—often excruciating pain, I was ready to give up and go on disability rather than try to start over with a new job. But in my heart, like little Bama, I know that I have more to give. She has inspired me to try again.

Thanks for your good wishes for her recovery!