Wednesday, March 08, 2006
TulipThe first time I saw Tulip, she had a worried look on her face and her tail was tucked. It's not unusual for dogs to show some stress or fear when they first arrive at the shelter, which is why we give them a few days to settle in before we evaluate them for adoption.
On her second day at the shelter, Tulip was spayed. She had a slow and difficult recovery -- for several days she lay in her kennel, not eating and hardly moving. We were worried. Her trainer, RT, sat with her in her kennel, gently hand-feeding her, until Tulip finally ate. Slowly, she began to come out of her shell.
She went out for walks, and her tail came out from between her legs.
Everyone commented on how nicely she walked on leash, never pulling, always attentive to her handler. Tulip was friendly and easy-going and a joy to be around.
But there was something about the way Tulip moved that wasn't quite right. We had the vet look at her, and the news wasn't good. Tulip had two luxating patellas: her knee caps moved out of position, which made it hard for her to walk and caused her significant pain. Surgery was possible, but the recovery would be long and difficult, and even then the outcome uncertain due to her size. The chances of Tulip living a pain-free life were slim. Even if we were able to do the surgery, she was living in significant pain and would continue to until surgery was performed. After further consultation with the vet, the decision was made to euthanize her.
The last time I saw Tulip, she looked happy. She was trotting down the hall at LG's side, her head up, her eyes bright, her tail held high. I stopped to say goodbye to her, and she gave me a smile and a kiss.
This is a sad story, but I don't think it's a story of failure. Part of our mission is to improve the lives of animals, and I think we did that for Tulip, even if it was only for a few days. We gave her something to wag about, and took away her pain before it could become unbearble. I think it's important that Tulip was able to leave this world with her tail up.
Goodbye, sweet Tulip.