As I drove along the two lane road, I said to myself, “It’s almost like I never expected it to happen. I mean, I knew it would, but I didn’t expect it to….”
Logic at its best.
I first met her in September of 2004 when she was abandoned at the veterinary hospital due to being paralyzed. After being adopted out, she was returned in November of 2005. Later, another couple thought they might adopt her, but that didn’t work out either. So, at the beginning of 2006 I told China that she had found her home, and that it included a crazy rescuer and a bunch of big, white, fuzzy dogs, with the occasional mix of other various breeds. She looked at me as if to say, “I know.”
China was abandoned at the veterinary hospital due to a spinal injury…the events leading to the injury were suspect, but the result was paralysis. While the big medical term escapes me, the gist of her medical condition was that a piece of cartilage broke off a bone during her “incident” and traveled up the blood stream. It eventually got clogged which cut the blood supply off to the nerve, causing the nerve to die. The end result was that her back legs were paralyzed, and she could not potty on her own because she didn’t know when she had to go, nor had the ability to empty herself completely.
None of this bothered China. Literally. It never phased her. China had an overwhelming love for life and for people, and it totally smothered her disability. To China, just because she couldn’t do this or that, didn’t mean she couldn’t do this or that. No, China never, ever felt discouraged…instead she continued to play, give kisses, make friends, and love life more than ever.
For 6 1/2 years China gave me life. We never thought about her disability, we just worked around it. Every day, 3 times a day, I would take her outside via a towel under her “belt” area, and I would express her bladder and her colon. Throughout our time together I would let her play, run on her own and be a dog. Eventually she built up strength and became ataxic, running, “jumping,” using her back legs to scratch, and I even caught her standing a few times to drink water. She loved, loved, loved to run across the yard and let me or my mother (aka: Grandma) chase her…and I swear it wasn’t because she was running, but instead because she loved to see us struggle to catch her. Her mischievous grin only supported this. So, we obliged and let her continue to use her legs as much as she could. We watched her determination run wild, and she would surprise us with the things she could accomplish. I envied her strength, her desire and that fact that she was always motivated. I’d wish to obtain even an ounce of it.
China loved her oversized stuffed animals, a good Nylabone, her blankets, bed and Grandma. Every day I would change her bed clothes at least twice, and over time we had a little routine that she learned and expected. There were times it wasn’t easy, for her accidents would inevitably come at the wrong times (ex: right when I had to leave), sometimes she’d make a mess on herself, or I’d clean her and her things up only to have to change it again within the hour. China knew when she had an accident, and she’d give me a pitiful look to say she was sorry…followed by at least 3 kisses. I washed more towels and bed clothes than a family of 4, and probably paid a few salaries in the Clorox corporation…but she was so, so worth it.
Everyone who met China adored her. While some men scared her to the point of shaking with fear, to the contrary she loved many and was never afraid of a woman (yes, a man abandoned her). Every time I’d take her into the vet people would become immediately smitten, and waiting room guests were amazed to see a weeble wobble Pit Bull and her happy go lucky personality. She’d bop around from person to person, giving smoochies all the way.
Last night, however, I noticed that something was off. She’d been eating well, but she had a sad look on her face and wasn’t as playful. After checking her out a few times with no signs of distress, I finally checked one last time before heading to bed. Her gums were extremely pale, sending me in to a huge panic.
I sang to her and told her I loved her on the way to the emergency clinic. Sure enough, bloodwork showed that she was anemic. In my gut I knew what was happening, but we needed to do an ultrasound to verify exactly what was taking place. It didn’t hurt for me to have a few more hours of denial either. Fortunately her internist was in the next morning, so the ER doc offered to let her stay so she could be seen immediately upon the opening of the specialist’s doors. I hated leaving her there in the wee hours of the night when she was used to cuddling up on her bed, but it was the wisest choice. She’d never been away from me, and the look on her face was begging for an explanation. I kissed her, told her that I loved her and not to worry, as I’d see her in a few hours.
My worst fears were confirmed with the call from the Internist. China had a mass in her spleen.
I cried all the way to the hospital. Mother met me there so that she could say goodbye, as well. She loved China dearly, and China in return worshiped the ground Mom walked on. As I waited in the exam room I looked up to watch the door open and present to me a cute, little, white Pit Bull riding a gurney, IV and monitor attached, all swaddled up in blankets, exhausted expression on her face.
She made sure to give us both a thorough face cleaning with her kisses, but she could barely keep her eyes open. With each passing minute her head bobbed up and down more and more, eventually resting first in the crook of her grandmother’s arm, and lastly on the back of my hand as I held her paw. As the doctor administered the drugs, I rested my head on hers. I heard her last breath and then felt my heart break in two.
China was the best thing that ever happened to me. While some might find it “too much” to express a dog in order for it to use the bathroom, for me it was just providing a little assistance to a dog that never wanted to give up on life. Her days were always bright, lively and cheerful. She always played, she always loved, and she never looked back.
China’s accomplishments were all China, not anything I did. She made sure to make her life her own and enjoy every minute of it…something I need to do myself.
China was my greatest gift, and I can’t begin to know how I’ll exist without her. I miss her deeply and can’t control the tears. What an enormous mound of strength and inspiration this fantastic little Pit Bull held in her heart…what joy she brought to so many people…what lessons we learned.
What an amazing soul and spirit. My little China girl, you are an original…there will never, ever be another you. I look forward to the day when I see you able to walk without limits…and I know I will.
Do not rest my sweet…run with vim and vigor!