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.

No comments: