Mitzi, Sunshine, and Romper came into Virginia German Shepherd Rescue (VGSR) in March, 2013, from elderly owners who were no longer able to care for their dogs. Mitzi was kept outdoors in a long, narrow run, living in her own feces. When the plea came out and I saw her sweet, kind face, I just knew I had to foster her. So on a cold, windy Saturday afternoon in March, Herb Tate met me at Petco in Winchester and turned Mitzi over to me.
Mitzi was in desperate need of a bath. She was heartworm positive, and had spinal stenosis and a recurring urinary tract infection (UTI) that would not clear up. One ultrasound later, it was determined her UTI was really an inoperable bladder tumor and cancer. It was decided that the best course of action was to put Mitzi in permanent foster with me to let her live out the six months the vet estimated she would live. Funny thing was, once she was here with my other dogs, she flourished. She ran and played as if she hadn’t a care in the world. She got to lie in a soft bed indoors at night. She was happy and relatively healthy for probably the first time in her life.
Fast forward three years. Slowly her health declined. Good days. Bad days. She began to struggle to stand up. She lost interest in eating regularly. This weekend, she collapsed and could no longer stand without the help of a sling. I had to make the painful decision that so many of us have had to make. I let her go to the Rainbow Bridge. I held her in my lap and stroked her fur and whispered it was okay to let go and to wait for me at Rainbow Bridge.
In the end, her ailments didn’t get her--not her heartworms, not her tumor which took up her entire bladder. She fought them valiantly for three years. Mitzi outlived both Sunshine and Romper. She was a gentle soul who loved everyone and everything she met. She taught me more than I ever taught her. There will never be another dog like her. There is an empty food bowl, an empty bed, a hole in my heart and tears streaming down my face tonight.
Thanks to Herb, Sharla Ashby, Kay Fiocca, Greg Kellenberger and Dawn McCarty for getting me through this day.
“The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinders which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our own lives and unprepared to help others cope with losses in theirs.”
-Dr. Colin Murray Parkes, Psychiatrist, St. Christopher’s Hospice