New Mexico's Pet Resource FALL 2006


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by Donna Little

In 1996 I lost my beloved Shepherd mix dog, Heidi, to a brain stem tumor. It was a rough, six-month ordeal that left a big hole in my heart. My Miniature Schnauzer became increasingly depressed without a companion, so I decided to look for another dog.

I called Metroport Humane Society. The woman asked many questions to find the perfect dog for our family. I wanted a female Shepherd, and a dog named Lady was available. I remember my utter surprise when she got out of the van. Lady was black and silver, instead of the usual black and tan. She was BEAUTIFUL!

Lady explored our house while I talked with Susie Turner from Metroport. Susie told me they’d tried to place Lady for six months. She was timid and slow to trust people. Rescuers from Metroport found her dumped at the side of the road with nine puppies. The puppies found homes, but Lady didn’t warm up to any of the families they introduced her to. She seemed to have a deep-seated fear of men. Before leaving, Susie said Lady hadn’t been this at ease with anyone before. But, instead of leaving her with us, she asked us to call if we decided to take Lady.

The next morning I couldn’t call Susie fast enough. Full of excitement, I drove to Susie’s house to get Lady. Lady settled nicely into our family. She and our Miniature Schnauzer got along well and she began to put on a little weight, although she would never be “fat and sassy.” She was too nervous for that.
I think we all remember our past dogs when we adopt a new one. I realized Heidi was diagnosed with the brain stem tumor about the time Lady was rescued. Six months after the diagnosis, we had to put Heidi down. It took six months for Metroport to find a home for Lady. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe God planned for us to find each other.

Ladybug became depressed when my Schnauzer died. I watched her wilt like a flower and realized she needed company. Luckily, I found Keaira, a 9-month-old Chocolate Lab. Ladybug accepted Keaira immediately, but was quick to show her who was boss. She remained the alpha dog even after Buddy, a purebred German Shepherd, joined our family. Buddy outweighed Ladybug by at least 40 pounds, but after two brief spats at the beginning of their relationship, Ladybug’s pack order was never challenged again.

Ladybug was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. I started her on several supplements, and she did very well. She even endured our move to New Mexico when she was nine years old. She loved going up the hill behind our house to explore the fenced piñon forest and managed to make the trip at least three or four times a day.

I knew Ladybug’s hips would continue to deteriorate. First I noticed Ladybug had difficulty eliminating. We didn’t always get her outside in time, but were patient with the fact that she was aging. If Ladybug turned too quickly, she lost her balance. Her hips gave out, and she’d fall. I knew that I was going to have to make a difficult decision in the near future. I struggled with the choice of burying her or having her cremated. Since our land is rocky, cremation was the only choice.

I woke early one morning to hear Ladybug whining softly. I knew that when Ladybug’s hips faltered and she couldn’t get up, it would be time to release her. Later, while we were out watering the garden, Ladybug’s hips let go. I helped her back into the house, tears streaming down my face, and lay beside her bed hugging and kissing her. She let me know that it was time.

Our holistic vet came to the house. Although Ladybug usually wasn’t friendly to the vet, this time she came over and lay beside her. We all said our goodbyes, and the vet administered the injection. My Ladybug slipped off to a peaceful sleep.

The vet, who also is an animal communicator, said Ladybug’s spirit left her little body even before the shot took full effect. Our family, Keaira and Buddy included, spent a short time with Ladybug’s body. Then my vet took the body away to make arrangements for the separated cremation we’d discussed in advance.

Once again my heart broke, and the pain seemed almost unbearable. As I was preparing for bed that evening, my chest became very warm and I had a vision of a smiling lady coming toward me. My Ladybug was telling me she was happy and no longer in pain. Ladybug was the second dog who came back to tell me she was happy. Heidi had done that, too.

The next decision was whether to keep Ladybug’s ashes in the urn or release them on the property she loved to wander. I chose the latter. Diana, a good friend of ours, plays the Cherokee flute. She suggested we have a ceremony for Ladybug while I scattered the ashes on the hill. Again, with tears streaming down my face, I held my beloved dog, in a different form, and spread her ashes as Diana played. It was supposed to be a very somber occasion, but as I went up and down the hill turning the ashes out, I looked into the urn and wondered, “How much dog is in here? Ladybug wasn’t that big!” I looked up to find Diana and my husband laughing. Diana said Ladybug was making her final statement. She was still large and in charge!

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