McKenzie, Sable, and Danzig

McKenzie is a 12 years young Long Hair Dachshund. We got her about 11 years ago. She was a gift for a child that had puppy love. Once the novelty of owning a puppy wore off, there wasn’t much interest for her. She spent many lonely days on a porch, starved for attention. Eventually, the mother of this boy decided it wasn’t fair to the dog, and offered her to us. For all the years we’ve had her, the toughest mission was trying to avoid and evade her kisses, for the sake of staying dry, and avoiding her dehydrating herself. She has so much love for everyone in our family, that all of my family’s love added together could not come close to a fraction of what she has given us. Being that she was a family pet, she stayed behind with my father and brother while I attended college.
After a couple years of being in college, I missed the companionship of the most honest friend a person can have. I went to the Alachua County pound, and adopted a 7 month old Shepherd, Sable. Sable was the exact opposite of McKenzie. Whereas McKenzie came from neglect, Sable came from abuse. Sable was on her last day of “Doggie Death-Rowe” when I adopted her. She was very shy, and wanted nothing to do with people. Every time I would go to pet her, she would brace herself for a hit. After weeks of giving her space, she mad the inches towards me. She realized that I loved her, and would never hurt her. She was still very shy around people, and not very affectionate. Her biggest display of affection for me occurred when I called maintenance to fix my AC. I didn’t think they would be as fast as they were. I was in the shower when I heard a booming growl/bark, a girl scream, and my bedroom door slam. I quickly wrapped a towel around my waist, and ran out of my bathroom to find Sable scratching relentlessly at the door, while growling and barking. I grabbed her by the collar, and got her into the bathroom. I opened the door to find, not a girl, but a maintenance worker that could be a stunt double for Michael Clark Duncan. From then on, I noticed that Sable would lay in a spot where she could keep an eye on all points of entry, whenever I was in a state of unawareness (sleeping, in the shower, etc.).
Through a series of unfortunate events, and bad choices in roommates, I was forced to leave college, and return home. Sable and I hit the road for the 5 hour drive, in a Hyundai Accent. It was then that I realized how much she loves car rides. If she got loose, the only way I could catch her was to get in my car, and say, “Wanna go Bye Bye?”
I was forced to crash with my father, until I had enough to get back on my feet. That is when Sable and McKenzie met. Both of them have never gotten along with other dogs, but they hit it off immediately. They were inseparable. It was McKenzie that rubbed a lot of love onto Sable, and I noticed a huge change in her. Sable and McKenzie began competing for the title of, “World’s Best Snuggler”. With a Dachshund, it’s cute. With a Shepherd, it means being forced off the bed, couch, or Lazy-boy. Sable also began to show more confidence around other people and dogs. McKenzie would start the fights, Sable would back her up (by fights, I mean stand offs with other dogs while everyone is leashed, and at safe distances).
I had finally saved enough for first, last, and security for an apartment near my mother’s home. In fact, across the street. It was going to be great. I would have someone to dog sit her while I was away or at work.
Night one of my new apartment would be what got me sole custody of McKenzie. My brother took McKenzie with him to our mother’s house, and I took Sable to our new home. I get a call late at night. It’s my mother, and she tells me to get over there, and bring McKenzie to my place. It turns out that McKenzie sat at the side door that faced my place, sniffing and whimpering for hours. McKenzie was so overcome with joy when she entered my house and was greeted by Sable, even though they had only been apart for less than a day. I felt like a father whose 5 year old kid was having a sleepover. All night, I could hear the clinking of their ID tags and county tags as they ran and chased each other all over the house. By the end of their rumpus time, they decided to “hit the sack”, and by that, I mean commandeer my bed and exile me to the couch.
Years went by, and I introduced them to a new member of our family, Danzig. Danzig was a predominately grey, leopard printed kitten no bigger than the palm of my hand. McKenzie, just being herself, immediately took him in. If Danzig did his kitten in distress meow, McKenzie would leap into action. Danzig’s first night was nothing but cuddling from McKenzie. She had picked Danzig up by his scruff, and put him on the bed. She curled around him, and they stayed that way the entire night.
More years would go by before I introduced another addition to our pack. They met my future wife, Stephanie, and she gained the love and affection from the three of them immediately (They would often bare their teeth at my exes). Throughout the years of our engagement, the three of them formed a very special bond. They were movie buddies, snuggle buddies, and give Brendan the cold shoulder when he does something wrong buddies.
After our wedding, we ran into tough times. I was still struggling for work since getting laid off, my wife had to have costly emergency surgery on her teeth, and Danzig had developed a severe blockage in his bladder, twice! He always waits until Friday to have them, so he has to stay over the weekend at the animal hospital. $$$$$. (Personal note to Danzig: You still owe me $1,000!). The common thread that held us together was the love from our pack, but mostly McKenzie. No matter how upset, mad, or angry my wife and I would be at each other, McKenzie was always the one who seemed to make it better.
They all knew how important Stephanie was to me, and had stopped guarding me, and started guarding her. They would not let her out of their sight. They knew they were not allowed on the bed with her, but would each take a door to guard and wait until she was asleep. Then they would Ninja their way onto the bed, while keeping all doors and points of entry in sight.
We lived in a very small apartment, and I was working two part time jobs, and did not have the time to take them to the park, or on many walks. They were stuck in a small space. Between my two jobs and my wife’s job, we were able to play catch-up financially, and found a little more stability in our lives. We decided we needed more space. We went on the hunt for a new place. My stipulation was a place for the girls. Every place we looked at, was it right for McKenzie and Sable (Danzig didn’t matter, because all he needed was a window sill and an occasional moth to chase)? We found a place that we could afford, that had more space, but more importantly, and fenced yard. They loved it. No more leashes, no more being forced to go potty next to each other, and they could hang outside with out me.
We developed our rituals. I would wake up in the early morning to have coffee, and hang with them in the back yard before work. They would come back inside, Ninja their way back into bed with my wife, and watch her while I was at work. I would often come home from work to find my wife and the 3 of them on the couch watching TV, or in the kitchen making dinner, or sometimes napping. McKenzie could sometimes manage to inch her way onto the bed while my wife would be watching a movie, and the inadvertently end up snuggling.
This past week, we noticed McKenzie walking wobbly, and eventually her back legs gave out. We took her to the vet, and it’s possible she has a pinched disc. The vet prescribed some meds for her, and wanted to make surgery a last resort. She is confident the meds will work, but was obliged to inform us of the possibility of what would happen if they don’t work. She would need emergency surgery, and the cost of the tests and operation would come to about $7k. My heart sank, as I knew we could not afford that. It was made known that further inflammation could lead to paralysis, and possibly the inevitable. While McKenzie is a loaner from God, we are not prepared to give her back yet. She is perfectly healthy, aside from her recent injury. I hope you enjoyed our family’s biography, and please cuddle your pet, give them a break from cuddling you, and include them in your prayers.

— Brendan from Ft. Lauderdale, FL