Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Monday, August 08, 2005

Penelope, Pug Warrior

Penelope above, a month before she died. Check out that tongue!

Our first dog was Penelope. We got her from the pug rescue group in Orange County, CA. She had had a hard life - she was found wandering the streets with a huge hernia, starving. Her front legs were messed up (her shoulders seemed to slip out of their sockets a bit) and she had pretty clearly been bred nearly to death. She was also deaf. The rescue group nursed her back to health for a year, and then Mike and I adopted her. We didn't care that she wouldn't be able to go on long walks or run very well. We just wanted to give an unwanted dog a home. And she was great, full of personality and spunk. She sure loved her toys! And the way she would become so threatened by our dog statue piggy bank and would bravely try to protect us from it through her firece barking was so endearing

After we had her for about a year we found out that she had cancer in her mammery glands. I remember crying as I drove her back from the vet, thinking that she deserved so much better than this. She was still a young dog, only 6 or so. After her horrible former life, she deserved to live long and happily - not die like this, so young.

We had the vet operate to try to get the cancer out. A big mistake. He took out a huge chunk of the cancer but couldn't get it all. So the last month or two of her life were hard. Her recovery from the operation was extremely painful, and in the end it didn't do any good at all. We put her through that horrible operation for nothing.

Putting her to sleep was one of the most horrible things I've had to deal with. One weekend she just kept collapsing so we took her to the vet, and it was clear that she was in so much pain that she had to go. Mike and I both were probably among the most undignified people the vets had ever come across. We were both sobbing, though Mike was more controlled than I was. After the traumatic experience of watching the vet put Penelope to sleep - and watching her scream and fight during those last 10 seconds of her life, Mike manfully volunteered to go out and pay the bill so I could slip away and cry in private. Sure, his eyes were red and it was clear he had been crying, but he had it pretty much under control at that point. But then when the secretary told him how sorry she was about Penelope, Mike lost it and started sobbing in front of the whole reception room. Poor Mike, it's been nearly a year since her death, but he's still embarrassed to go back to that vet's office.

That night as we ate dinner at our house, tears kept sliding down our faces every few minutes. I think that day we got a glimpse of how horrible it would be to loose a child. But we also came to understand how shared grief can unite people. I felt very close to him that night.


Blogger mindy said...

i love you for giving this girl a home. you are a woman after my own heart. Do you have other pets now? Sweet penelope.

8/21/2005 8:58 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Hi Mindy! You are the first non-friend to comment on my blog. Yeah!

Yes, I've got two other rescued pugs now. I had Sibyl during the whole Penelope dying ordeal, which was comforting. But then a month after Penelope died, Sibyl almost died from a collapsed trachea. It was horrible. I really thought she wasn't going to make it. Days in the oxygen chamber. Thousands of dollars spent. But we've been able to keep her going with lots of meds.

We adopted Sophia a couple months after Penelope's death. That more than anything helped me get over the horrible experience. Focusing on a new resuced dog has been healing.

I noticed on your blog that you are also interested in animal rescue. I'm so glad the pit bulls have people like you in their corner!

8/21/2005 9:39 PM  

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