After Jake crossed the Rainbow Bridge my home had a gaping hole in it. He was a 90-pound dog in a 917 sq. ft. apartment, so “gaping hole” should just about describe it. I went to friend’s homes or shopping after work because I couldn’t bring myself to walk into an empty home. I went from having no experience with dogs to not being able to live without one. There is nothing like the feeling of holding a warm little being while sleeping, deeply exhaling when they are completely comfortable and feeling safe. I never knew what I was missing, and after Jake I couldn’t imagine living without it. One month later I went to the Humane Society of Broward County in south Florida to look for another pup. There were so many dogs begging for attention that it made my heart hurt. I came across Rae (who was later named Chance) and it was love at first sight. She was a little thing, only about 4 months old, with a big smile on her face jumping up at the gate trying to get attention. Well, needless to say, I wasn’t leaving without her.
My home was full of love again, but this little pup had big paws to fill. She was quirky and had the same mannerisms as Jake. I was convinced he came back to me through this sweet little girl. Shortly after bringing Chance home, I noticed something was wrong with her face. She was diagnosed with Demodex manage. Luckily, it was a mild case and she was cured and back to normal in no time. Chance grew fast but I spent most of her first few years afraid that I was going to lose her soon. I worried over every little thing, afraid that she might get sick. After the first few years passed, I stopped being so fearful. Chance was obviously a healthy pup, and I decided to just enjoy every minute I had with her. Chance was about 7 years old when we I received concerning news. Certain elevations were found in her blood tests indicating a possible liver issue. She was prescribed a few liver supporting supplements which seemed to keep her stable for a while. Shortly after we moved to Colorado in 2006, I found a hard lump on her back left leg. It was a malignant tumor and it had to be removed. The surgery was successful, but I was told that the tumor could return. Chance was 8 years old by then, and because I didn’t know how long a Doberman mix would live, I just decided to count every day as a blessing. That same year, I received a definitive diagnosis regarding her liver. It was copper-associated hepatitis and Cushing’s disease. My precious pup wasn’t getting a break. She had so many pills to take by then that I started using a daily pill organizer to keep them all straight, but she was doing really well. Chance amazed her vets every year, and I was grateful for every extra day I had with her. By age 13, they said she wouldn’t see another year, but we celebrated 14 with good health. It was a pretty good year considering her age and medical issues. Christmas 2011 would be the last we would spend together. Her liver was failing, causing Chance to have diarrhea accidents in the house. I scattered puppy pads around the downstairs for potential accidents when I was home, and Chance would stay in the kitchen with more puppy pads and a big comforter to nap on when I wasn’t home. It was obvious by February 2012 that I wasn’t going to have Chance with me for much longer. She was very thin and not eating much. The day she left me, Chance wouldn’t eat anything and her back legs couldn’t support her. Chance crossed the Rainbow Bridge on February 22, 2012.
My three little girls lived together, almost in harmony, for about 10 years. Based on all the vet visits, they obviously weren’t all perfect years, but I wouldn’t trade a single day I had with them. I never imagined that I would lose Tasha first given Chance’s age and liver disease, but you just can’t plan these things. Losing Tasha and Chance within 5 months of each other was a pretty big blow so I’m grateful to still have more time with Maggie. You don’t realize the things you’ll miss until they’re gone. Chance was my exercise partner. We walked together mornings and evenings all of her life. Taking walks now without her is a bit of a struggle. I never used the bathroom at home without Tasha’s company. She was a faithful companion, purring the entire time. It makes me smile just thinking about it. I think Maggie understood the vacancy and filled the roll of bathroom companion almost immediately. Maggie has slept with me virtually every night since the day she moved in. I don’t even want to think about what that will mean one day.
I imagine most people who read this will think how nice it was for me to be able to afford to care for these sick pets. Well, nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m just an administrative assistant who’s been lucky enough to have decent paying jobs and credit cards. Lucky for my pets, I was financially irresponsible and threw a credit card down for every need. Lucky for me that I owned my condo and refinanced my mortgage when the debts got too high. I do understand that this is not a healthy way to handle finances, but that’s the way it was when I was in my twenties. Lord knows I paid the price for that mindset, but it got my pets and me through the tough times.
I’m often asked where I got the idea to help other people keep their pets. Last year I started receiving posts on Facebook from volunteers posting dogs and cats in kill shelters in New York City and North Carolina. I don’t remember if I LIKED something or accepted a friend request that brought these posts to me, but it was definitely meant to be. It brought the heartbreaking reality of the large number of owner surrenders to my attention. The volunteers often give descriptions of the circumstances around the surrenders as well. So many people are relinquishing their pets because they can’t afford to fix treatable ailments. I read the stories about those poor abandoned animals with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. What if there was an option for those pet parents to treat their pets and keep them at home? I mentioned it to our vet, and she confirmed that it occurs more than I would believe. That was all I could take. I decided to start Chance’s Dream Animal Rescue to give assistance to pet parents who genuinely want to keep their pets but are having financial difficulties.