This week’s reader rescue story is about a puppy who was facing a death sentence due to her disabilities, but fate had bigger plans for this little girl. We hope you enjoy reading her story as much as we did.
If you are the pet parent of a rescued dog, we want to share your story, too! For information about submitting your story, click here.
A friend of mine who breeds and shows Great Danes had two all-white puppies. The puppies didn’t impress me, and honestly, I thought they were rather ugly. While I’d normally jump at any chance to cuddle and play with new puppies, I really didn’t even want to stand there and look at the little boy and girl.
A couple days later my friend called. She told me she was taking the pups to the vet for their six week check-up and would most likely be putting the girl down. I was horrified and asked, “Why?!” thinking she had developed some life-threatening illness.
She told me she thought the female pup was deaf and possibly blind to which I replied, “So?” She said if the vet confirmed that she was, she felt the pup would have no quality of life and that putting her down would be the best thing.
I was almost in tears. Suddenly that little white girl I’d previously been repulsed by seemed like the most precious thing in the world. I approached my husband and said in my most pleading voice, “Daddy, can we get a puppy?” He just groaned, rolled his eyes and asked, “What kind?”
I told him about the puppy and her bleak future. He continued to roll his eyes and asked me what I was going to do with her. I could tell he was weakening. Luckily my husband is a bigger sap for a sob story than I am and he gave in.
The next day I called my friend and asked if she’d consider letting us take the pup if it was determined she had a disability. At first she was hesitant and said she had to think about it. She asked what I planned on doing with the pup, or what I would do if she proved too much of a challenge for us to handle.
I begged her to let us give the pup a chance at a normal life and if it should prove too difficult to deal with her, then I would do the right thing and have her euthanized. But I was bound and determined to prove my friend wrong – and I did, in a big way.
I met her at the vet’s office that Saturday and cuddled the pup while she took the boy in to be tested. He got a clean bill of health. Then she took the little girl in. Her results showed she was completely deaf and partially blind in both eyes. This didn’t sound promising, but I persisted until my friend gave in and agreed to let me have her.
We decided to name her Olivia to go along with our Elliott (the great detective duo on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”). I enrolled her in obedience school and kept repeating the classes over and over. Not that she wasn’t learning the lessons, I just wanted them reinforced, and for her to be really socialized. I had the idea that she would be a therapy pet, but first I knew she needed to get settled and be well behaved.
When Olivia was about 18 months old, she passed her Canine Good Citizens test and a few days later I herniated a disc in my back. My long road to recovery meant her training, and my intentions to make her a therapy pet, were pushed to the back burner. More than another year went by before I was able to start walking her and getting her socialized once again. Olivia was over 4 years old now and the love of my life.
While working a booth at a health fair for an organization I volunteered for, I struck up a conversation with a woman at the next booth and found out she had therapy dogs. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was getting Olivia ready to take her exam to become a therapy pet.
Olivia is 7 years old now, and while she’s not the most outgoing dog I’ve ever had, nor is she good with children, she is a wonderful therapy pet.
She is more of a one-on-one kind of dog. She likes for the person petting her to be directly in front of her, where she can see him, but if someone is willing to rub her throat or chest, she will stand there all day.
Olivia not only has a good quality of life, but she has helped bring quality to the lives of so many patients and residents that she visits. I have learned far more from Olivia about life, patience, tolerance and acceptance than she has learned from me.
PHOTO: Kim Kleinsteuber