When my Polly girl first came to me from Safe Harbor Lab Rescue as my foster, she had been in a shelter in Pueblo and during the night she had managed to escape somehow. In the morning, the workers found her waiting at the front door and her face was all torn up and one of her paws was injured. She had staples on her face and fur shaved from around one eye, and a bandaged foot. She was a Lab-Shar Pei mix and that combination gave her the sweetest face with big round brown eyes and ears that had not decided whether they were Lab ears or Shar Pei ears. Pretty quickly I found that she had tapeworms and had that taken care of.

I also discovered that she had lots of anxiety and a few years later, when I had to have her leg x-rayed, she was found to have BB pellets embedded inside her body, so I was/am pretty sure that caused her fear of loud noises. She had been shot at some point before she was rescued. How can someone do something like that to an animal???

Over the years, she chewed almost thru the thick wood front door, chewed corners of furniture and wall bookcases; pulled up parts of rugs that had been installed, chewed thru the wood privacy fence in the back yard…this she did many times managing to get out thru a hole that she made and then drop to the driveway below…at least a 3.5-4 foot drop…and away she would go! One time she was gone for four days. I searched and searched and called dog shelters all to no avail. Since we lived near a very busy street on which two dogs of mine had been killed in years past, and also lived near an extremely busy intersection, I feared for her life. Four days after she disappeared, I received a call from a veterinarian’s office that was near to my house. They had Polly! She had come back from wherever she had gone and walked into a small store in a strip mall and up to the worker there. Obviously, she was trying to find her way home and she was probably hungry.

At some point, I realized that a lot of her angst was caused by a severe ear infection. That was taken care of and while she still was on a mission to destroy (whenever I left her to run an errand), at least I knew she was not in pain from that ear infection anymore.

In 2014, from jumping down to the driveway so many times, she finally ended up with a torn muscle in her left hind leg. Surgery was out of the question because of the cost. That was before I knew about Planned Pethood Plus and Dr. Jeff Young, who, had I known about them, probably would have done that surgery for somewhat less than the going rate. Instead Safe Harbor Lab Rescue bought a brace for her leg and she used that for some time. I also started to give her double doses of glucosamine chondroitin. That definitely helped her and after several months the brace came off and she could walk and run very well.

I could tell you so much more about her, but I will skip to the present. Last summer, she suddenly became very unstable in walking, falling over, etc. A trip to the emergency service on a Sunday got the verdict…canine geriatric vestibular syndrome or disease. I brought her home and over the next few weeks, she gradually lost most of the symptoms and was doing very well.

Then, four weeks ago, disaster struck.  I noticed a bump on her shoulder that I thought might be a dislocated shoulder because of her bounding off the back deck after a rabbit…

Off to the vet we went but when he took an x-ray, I received the news that it was not dislocated but that she had a mass in her shoulder. She was put on various pain meds to help with pain…but gradually since then, she has become more and more debilitated until now, I have a harness on her to help her get up so that I can put a sling under her to get her to move to another room or to go outside.

As I write this it is the last day of 2019. Tomorrow starts a new year and the day after that, Jan. 2, Polly will go to her final rest or as dog people say, she will cross the Rainbow Bridge. I think they have concocted that phrase to help with the trauma of the dog’s owner who has to make that final decision. It does not help and I will be devastated to lose my Polly girl.