She rode the bus like a triumphant princess, her regal Pekinese safely ensconced in the bag she has knitted for him. She held him close to her heart, his fluffy black head adorned with a cute little blood red bow, resting trustingly against her matching red blouse. Nancy knew that they looked clichéd and doltish to others, but she was too happy to care. It had felt right to dress up for the ride. The bow was a graduation cap of sorts, it’s colour chosen to signify life. Six months back he had been marked PTS, ‘put to sleep’. Today she was taking him home. It had been an arduous and painful journey, and this was their winning lap.
She still shook with revulsion every time she recalled the headline – “41 dogs recovered from house of horror”. A few of those poor dears had been moved to the shelter she volunteered with. The next day when she went in there, she could hardly believe what she heard. It had taken the animal control officers almost eight hours to extract the dogs from an abandoned house where they had been soaking in their own urine and feces. The veterinarians and volunteers were hard at work cleaning and medicating the dogs. Nancy immediately set about cleaning the poop and hair that was all over the floors. And that was when she first saw it. A dirty cage housing what looked like a big lump of filth, with the ominous words “PTS” marked on it. Was that actually an animal in there? How was he still alive? She read the doctor’s notes stuck on the cage. “Possible Pekingese mix. Unresponsive. Acute Crate State.”
Something clawed at Nancy’s heart. Putting him to sleep was the humane thing to do. But, at the very least, he deserved to be cleaned and given an honourable death. It was by no means an easy job. The poor thing was so emaciated that she had to be extra careful handling him. Hours of snipping, wiping, washing later, she could finally see the little pup. It was while she was trying to get him to drink some water, that the miracle happened. The little warrior’s sluggish paw reached out for her, and in that instant her heart was lost.
She begged the vet to allow her to attempt nursing him back. Health checks diagnosed him with minor patellar luxation and fold dermatitis, nothing some well planned physiotherapy and topical antibiotic couldn’t take care of. He would always have a limp, but he would live. Her Tyson was a fighter.
The battle didn’t end with his physical care. Tyson started exhibiting mild agoraphobia. When ever she said ‘walk’, his ears and tail would lower, he would get very agitated and physically stick to the walls. She tried to cajole him, sing to him in that soft tone that he loved so much, but to no avail. Finally she decided to resort to a little bribery and corruption. Nancy sat herself out side, just a few feet from the door, knitting and humming, surrounded by Tyson’s favourite squeaky toys and the super rich tea biscuits. It took an hour, but he slowly started inching closer and closer, until he finally crossed the threshold and was close enough to be rewarded with a scratch on his chest and at the top of his tail, just as his natural mother would have.
Short stays gradually evolved into short walks, culminating today, when the vet had teasingly winked – Time to take him home Nancy. You’r hogging unnecessary space.
So here they were, him in his little red bow and she in my matching red blouse, two champions riding the bus. Going home.