A Promise. Kept.
I have always considered my pets as my family and love for all animals has been a part of my nature for as far back as I can remember. This includes a deep sadness and concern for those homeless, abused, neglected and cast away by their familes. My husband, Jim’s description of me is “She has three dogs, five cats, two geese and one old man; and we were all strays”. It has just been in the past dozen years or so that I have come to recognize these personality traits as very God-given. Jim, bless his heart, seems to understand. I am not an animal activist nor do I consider myself a rescuer. I do, however go by the principle that if God puts a homeless animal in my backyard, He means for me to take care of him.

About three years ago we moved to a home on five acres in an unincorporated agricultural area, where there are no restrictions on the number or type of animals a person may have. About two months later He sent Roper, my cattle dog and two part Manx cats; Little Boy and Emmie so I didn’t think God planned on sending me another so soon. Then I met Mac.

Jim and I were on the way home from taking BuddyBear, my Chow- German Shepherd, to our vet for a checkup. It was when we turned onto our road that I spotted him; a rottweiler. One of our neighbors has three rotties, so I concluded this one had gotten out of the yard. I had Jim stop so I could take him home. As soon as I petted him and felt all of his ribs I knew that he wasn’t my neighbor’s dog. At this point, I figured that he had been abandoned. I planned to take him home for the night and to the ASPCA Shelter in the morning. You see, God had made a mistake this time. Roper and the cats had just adjusted to being part of the family. I just couldn’t bring in another dog. And a Rottweiler besides. What if he is aggressive to the other dogs? Or the cats? Where could I put him? Both the spare bedrooms had been converted into cat rooms.
I sent Jim and BuddyBear on ahead and started coaxing the skinny dog to walk with me. Even though I was quite sure that he had been abandoned, I checked to see if he had on a collar or tags. That’s when I discovered a bloody, infected gash completely circling his neck. The scalloped edges of the wound told me that he had once had a chain embedded in his neck.
I continued to talk softly to the dog, coaxing him to follow me. By the time we got home I knew that the Shelter was out of the question. I feared that because of his health issues, he would be destroyed. He obviously hadn’t had much of a life this far and I didn’t want it to end with strangers! I made an unspoken promise to him that I would do right by him. If he was to be euthanized, it would be at my vet’s office, where I could hold him, pet him and tell him that I loved him.

That night I cleaned his wound, petted him a lot and told him “goodnight”. He spent the night on our screen porch with fresh water, food, and blankets for his bed. The next morning he went to see Dr. Cheryl. He seemed happy; happy to ride in the car with me, happy to see the girls at the office, happy to be dry and fed. I left him with Dr. Cheryl for a thorough check up and went home to wait for her call. I rushed to answer the phone at about 5:00 and the news was better than expected. Dr. Cheryl had cleaned his neck wound and started him on antibiotics. She also started treatment for an eye infection, hookworms, roundworms and fleas. His heartworm treatment would have to wait until the infection was cured and he had gained some weight. He weighed 73 pounds and should weigh about 110! But, she believed he could be cured!!!

He came home and we began the process of becoming best friends. He was so sweet, appreciative of any kindness and eager to please. He hadn’t been housetrained (if you were chained in one place your whole life, what would be the point of learning to hold your urine?!) and he would use his blankets for a potty during the night. I bought some puppy training pads. The first night I put down some clean blankets and a couple of the puppy pads for him, he stared at them quizzically and then picked one up with his teeth and began tossing it up in the air and catching it. He’s just a big happy puppy, I thought. How could it be, after all he had been through? I imagine he had never gotten to be a puppy before. He learned about treats. We played a game where he would have to guess which hand the treat was in, and he usually guessed correctly. I have a bumper sticker on my vehicle which reads, “My rottweiler is smarter than your honor student”. If he would guess incorrectly, I would comfort him saying “That’s OK, the honor student wouldn’t have gotten it either”. (I’m a chemistry instructor at the local community college, so I know!) He absolutely stole my heart.

My initial concerns about aggressiveness were unfounded. If anything, he tended to be passive and a bit insecure in the beginning. But as the days went by he became more and more secure of his place in the family. The conncetion developing between he and I was simply amazing.

At his next appointment, we had another minor setback. Dr. Cheryl found an internal infection and anemia, so another course of antibiotics and some multivitamins with iron. His heartworm treatment again had to be postponed. We went home, where his recovery continued. He continued putting on weight and getting more energy.

Mac had his first heartworm treatment August 1. He tolerated it well and continued in good health during the following month. He had his second heartworm treatment on Aug 29. Eight days later, my Mac-Mac died. Dr. Cheryl says his system was too weak to handle the heartworms and the treatment. He was such a sweet boy and I miss him terribly!
Although, I still cry every day, I am beginning to take comfort in the fact that Jim and I gave Mac a good life, if only for a couple of months. His short time with us was filled with affection and new experiences and he didn’t die alone or among strangers. And my promise to him? Kept.

Janice from FL