For the Love of a Dog

I am participating in #SOL21 and am grateful to twowritingteachers for this space to write, read, and grow. Thank you!

I am always surprised that I continue to learn more about my husband.  Although we’ve only been married for close to eight years now, we’ve known each other for over twenty-five years since we both spent our teaching careers in Upper Moreland School District. Ralph taught computer literacy to third through fifth graders and I was a writing extension teacher, then literacy coach and reading specialist.

Ralph has always been a cat lover, and I always have had a dog. When we finally chose one home to live in, our family grew bigger to include three Welsh Corgis – Memphis, Merri, and Rhonda. About three years ago we purchased a King Arthur after losing Memphis. As an eight-month old, he was full of energy and tried to get the old girls to play with him. They were his tribe. Rhonda delighted in chasing him out of the kitchen at feeding time, and even when Artie grew much bigger than her, he still played the game. He adored Rhonda and her fierceness.

We are enjoying the snow storm two years ago. Arthur is in front, Rhonda is in pink, and Merri is in blue.

Rhonda just shy of sixteen, came to us when she was four. I bought Merrill when I lost Mimi because I did not want Memphis to be alone while I was away from seven to four each day.  But I did not want to start with a puppy again, so I searched for a Welsh Corgi who was housebroken and at least one year old. I found Merrill – fourteen months and perfect except for the fact that I had to let the breeder take her to dog shows every once in awhile so Merrill could earn her championship. I also agreed to a litter of puppies. I must have been out of my mind! I agreed to this because Carol, the dog breeder, was also a friend; and truthfully, I was already in love with Merri. Carol suggested that when I brought Merrill back to her for showing purposes, that I take her mother Rhonda as a substitute.

And so I did, and when Merri was finished showing and had her litter of seven puppies, I had grown too attached to Rhonda to give her up, and so I bought her, too. As I look back, I am sure this was Carol’s plan! Ten years later, Rhonda began to have some issues. Two cancerous tumors that had to be removed and then, another tumor that began to grow and grow. My vet wisely recommended not to remove it because of Rhonda’s age and because of its location. On top of that, she was struggling to flip her left leg under her when she walked. She often dragged it along or inside the house, sat and pulled her entire back end with the help of her powerful front legs and sheer determination.

When we visited the vet in December, I asked Jon if it was time to put her down. I told him about her struggle to walk and secretly prayed for a miracle. I was not ready to let go. But, at the same time, I wanted to be fair to Rhonda. Jon’s reply was heartwarming. “I’ve been around animals long enough to know when their eyes say they have had it.” Rhonda’s eyes tell me she still wants to be here.”  Inside of me, I cheered!

Several days later, Jon called to say Rhonda’s problems were neurological and suggested we purchase a cart for her. “She has the disposition to handle it,” he said. My husband started to research immediately. A day later he announced he had ordered a cart for Rhonda and that it should arrive soon. When it appeared, Ralph went to work on putting together Rhonda’s “Tesla.”  Ralph loves Teslas, and we joked that Rhonda’s cart was as close as we were ever going to get to owning one.

Rhonda did take to the cart easily.  After several adjustments, Rhonda could walk outside with her back legs supported by the cart’s structure. We took a walk down the sidewalk with our other Corgis on leashes. They took no notice of the cart. I was so happy!  Rhonda was going to get the exercise she needed and we would get to keep her for a little longer. Rhonda was amazing!