Bel’s Story: an Addendum

After first posting about Bel in my previous entry, I was reminded of something I should add so the context of my struggles with Bel are clear.  It’s impossible to understate how near to killing Toby she came.  My vet thought Toby would die.  She even told me that putting him down might be the thing to do, because his recovery was going to be long  and expensive and he might not pull through, the damage was so great. He had multiple wounds on his neck, head and front legs, many of which had to have drains put in them.   In one place on his rear leg, the skin was entirely gone, exposing muscle, and this place was almost the size of a dollar bill.  (I have pictures of the wounds, but they are rather gruesome, so I’ll keep them to myself).  The skin tissue turned necrotic, and couldn’t be pulled back over the damaged area–we didn’t know if it would grow back.  He had liver damage from the sheer amount of damage to his body.   He was at the vet for six weeks.  SIX WEEKS!  His wounds had to be flushed three times a day, and he had to be force fed.

Toby at home, after 6 weeks at the vet

But Toby’s tough.  He pulled through, and now you can’t even see the place where the wound was on his leg–he does have a scar, but his fur covers it.

Bel had done so much damage that my vet asked me if I wanted to put her down.  She pointed out that Bel was a risk to the other dogs.  Honestly, I thought about it.  I thought hard.  But I couldn’t bear the thought of losing both Shibas at the same time, and we weren’t sure Toby was going to make it.  And then, as now, she’d never shown any serious aggression to a dog other than Toby.  I kept her, though there were days when I couldn’t stand the sight of her as I flushed Toby’s wounds and force fed him.  For weeks–even after he came home from the vet, I still had to do this.  I spent thousands of dollars I didn’t have on his care.

But there were other days too, when seeing another, healthy Shiba was a comfort.   She slept with me, and though it wasn’t Toby, it was still a familiar, curly-tailed dog.  I kept him alive.  I kept her.

But people who multiple dogs know this:  sometimes you have a dog that people call the “heart dog,” the one that feels closest to your own heart.  Toby was that dog for me.   The thought of losing him was–is–terrible.

Behind my frustration with Bel is fear, fear of loss.

Today, Bel had her birthday.  She went to Long Leash on Life to get some dog treats.  She did not enjoy her visit; there were people there she didn’t know, and that scared her.  She did not enjoy seeing M’s dogs, though some days she does.   She went for several rides, which she did enjoy, and she had a Sonic burger which she liked, and a tiny bit of ice cream from my root beer float.  She ate a bully stick in the car on the way home.    Even though she’s still hyped up from her encounter with Toby–still stalking him, pawing at the door to his room–and even though she still has her fearfulness (there was thunder, wind, and then it got dark, all frightening things to her), I think she enjoyed at least a portion of her day.

Perhaps that all that any of us can hope for.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mambo Vye Zo
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 06:43:32

    I admired and cheer for your determination to keep Bel in the world. So many dogs have no one and your challenges with Bel go a long way to illuminating why some people give up on their animals. It takes a big heart to see through the pain and to be present for a little life that is living hard. Stay strong — and know that I am behind any decision you choose to make regarding Jezebel.


  2. Stellans Sloop
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 07:44:37

    I am so very happy that Toby survived, and is doing so wonderfully (except for hating other dogs, of course). Bel –poor crazy Bel– doesn’t hate all dogs, just Toby. I still believe both dogs are incredibly lucky to have you as their guardian, because many people out there would have given up on both. *hug*


  3. shibamistress
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 11:47:08

    Thanks….I teared up a bit reading these. She is living hard, but I’m glad I have been able to give her a steady, safe place. It’s one of the reasons I’ve kept her rather than try to rehome her: I see how scared she gets of things like wind, and thunder, and I can’t stand to think about how terrified she would be in another home where she didn’t know the people or the place. I’ll keep her with us as long as possible. And anyway, the day to day stuff is usually not that hard–it’s just the mistakes and crises that are scary.


  4. jen
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 18:14:56

    I was just reading your thread on the shiba forum.

    My heart aches for you. I don’ tknow how you do it. I’ve lived with very difficult dogs, but the one who caused some scary damage to another of my dogs – we rehomed her. And my foster now caused one deep puncture but is otherwise normal around my dogs now. I see a distinct difference in him… normalcy if there is such a thing in dogs. It’s hard to define and even hardy to quantify.

    I don’t envy your position but just reading how much care and consideration you put into the care of all your dogs… whatever decision you make for Bel will be the right one, no doubt.


  5. PupChow
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 08:42:27

    You are a very kind person for giving Bel chance and chance again at living. I honestly would not know what I would have done if I were in your shoe. I sincerely hope things go well from this point forward for you and your family!


  6. Trackback: Goodbye to Bel | From the House of the Fox Dogs

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