I met her one hundred and twenty two hours before she took her last breath.
She bolted out of the transport carrier and squatted to pee. Poor baby- it had been a long day in the car. She had
traveled from Kentucky to Pennsylvania with two transfer stops along the way.
She stood still, not moving until I encouraged her to come in. Once inside, she found a corner and huddled down,
watching the household around her. Her body still, but her eyes watching- was this a good place to be?
I left her alone, letting her adjust, hoping that she would decide to trust just one more person.
In her eight years, she had too many journeys. By the age of three, she was looking for a new home. She was adopted
again, but five years and too many accidents later, she was surrendered to the shelter. She was a good girl, her former
people said, but when she started peeing in the house she had to go.
The shelter said she was scared.
Boarded at the vet- was this better than a kennel at the shelter? Still not a home, and kind words and loving touches
came only when the staff could spare a moment for a scared little dog.
The vet said she was scared.
Off to a foster home- overburdened and overworked rescuers, trying hard to save just a few more. She hides in the
corners, and nobody notices her.
The foster home said she was scared.
"We have no homes here for an eight year old scared little dog" the rescue said. "Would you please take her? She is so
frightened here."
The rescue group said she was scared.
She arrives after that long day of travel, and she certainly seems scared. Not moving, not eating, just those eyes watching
all that was going on. She has to be carried outside, and her only real activity is the mad dash back inside to the corner
she has chosen as her own.
Well, of course- she must be scared. Everyone said so.
But the symptoms were there. The longstanding history of accidents, the bloody streaks and pus in her urine, the
urgency and straining when she needed to "go". The stench- that not even a nose accustomed to "doggy odors" could
There was something wrong.

I call the vet. "She just arrived, and she is sick. She needs to be seen." Three hours later, she is on the exam table. We
are sure immediately, before the tests are even run, this sweet girl has a raging urinary tract infection. She is still quiet,
allowing the vet to look at her. Her gums are pale, and blood is drawn. She never flinches, even when a second stick is
needed. She is dehydrated, and needs fluid. The vet doesn't delay, and an antibiotic injection is given right away. The
exam continues, and the vet's eyes widen. She palpates her abdomen and says "She's full of stones." We don't need an
X-ray. In the vet's words, "The signs are not subtle."
The vet checks with the surgeon, and it is decided. She should stay, and surgery will happen today. Blood results are
back, and her kidney numbers aren't good. She is anemic. Her white blood cell count is high. But all these things are
likely a result of the stones and untreated infection. Once we remove the stones, we can fix the other things. I pat her on
the head, and tell her she will feel better now that we know how to fix her problem.
She wasn't scared. She was sick and in pain. And nobody noticed.
The vet calls while she is still on the operating table. The news isn't good. Three huge bladder stones and necrotic areas
in the bladder. Her body temperature is low, and her heart rate is fluctuating. The vet is pessimistic about her chances of
recovery, but we have nothing to lose by giving her a chance.

She makes it through the surgery, and spends the next twenty four hours in a heated cage at the vet hospital. She eats a
little and pees a little- she can come home. But she is still a very sick little dog.
I prepare the corner she has chosen. Blankets, and a heating pad, and a dish of water in easy reach.
I go to get her, and when the technician brings her out she curls her head under my neck, as if to get as close as
possible, and seems to breathe a sigh of relief. "You came back" is what she seems to say.
She had been left too many times. She had been ignored too many times. Nobody realized what was really happening to
this "scared little dog."
I bring her home, and settle her on her blankets. She lays still and watches, almost like before. Now though, I get an
occasional wiggle, not even a wag, of her tail. I hope that my careful handling and gentle words have helped her begin to
believe that life will be better now.
We know that recovery will take time. She's sore from surgery, and debilitated from the infection. She rests, and I carry
her outside. I change her blankets, and get her fresh water. I am encouraged when she starts eating, and leaves the
comfort of bed for her dinner.
I scratch her chest and rub around her ears. She leans into my hand. I talk quietly to her, and tell her what a good girl
she is.
One night passes, and then another. I can see that there is less pain. She is eating well. I allow myself to hope that
maybe this brave little dog will beat the odds.
And then I hear her cry. I go in by her bed, and she is stretched out on her side, crying. As I lean down to pick her up she
stiffens, and breathes her last breath.
Her body was too damaged. The infection too strong. Her treatment too late.
I am heartbroken.
How could that be? I have only known her for five short days.
She deserved better than her original owners who gave her up at the age of three.
She deserved better than her second owners, who didn't get her the medical care she needed to stop a simple problem
from turning into a life-threatening one.
She deserved better than to end up at a kill shelter, because her medical problems caused her accidents.
She deserved better than the numerous people who failed to see the signs of a problem, and dismissed her as a "scared
little dog."
She deserved better than to die in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people.
I can only hope that she felt the love and concern that surrounded her in her final days. I hope that the comfort of a warm
and soft place to sleep, and good food to eat made her last days better. I hope that those chest scratches and ear rubs
and murmured "good girls" made her feel like the amazing little dog that she was.
And I know that she deserved better.
Rest in peace, Chrissy. I will see you at the Rainbow Bridge.

© 2014 Mary G. Stoner
This article may be reprinted, reproduced, or shared without written permission only in its entirety and for non-profit use
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Chrissy's Story