Thoughts before I walked up to our front door (right by where the dog was): It could be sweet... It could be vicious - wolf-dogs! ...Probably aggressive... Doesn't look too mean... I would need to watch it for a while before testing that theory... I'll just walk by assertively and not make eye-contact so it doesn't think I'm making a challenge... Unless it attacks - THEN I'll show it who's the alpha around here!... Okay...I'm going.
She acted interested, but I didn't stop to discover if it was hey-you-look-like-such-a-nice-lady interested, or hey-I'm-looking-for-a-fight-and-maybe-I-can-take-you interested. I came across a plethora of dogs walking the streets of Santiago, Chile as a missionary, not all of them friendly, and I didn't want to deal with a mean dog just then, so I kept my optimism to myself and stuck with cautious. ;)
She stayed by our house all night, I watched her sporadically from the window in the morning, and by lunch I was 90% sure she was a tired, lonely, and hungry sweetheart. She lay by the garage directly across the street from my window, and I was debating what food I could give her when my neighbor opened and closed her garage to scare her off. The dog got up and walked over to the grass and lay down, but then the neighbor grabbed a mop and was going at her. That was too much for me (the dog was being so sweet and passive), so I grabbed some corn tortillas (Derek's suggestion: "Dogs love them!" I doubted that, but I did have them handy) and ran across the street. I started talking with my neighbor about the pooch and approached her little by little, offering tortilla bits. She gratefully ate them up and came to me, happy to see a friendly face, and even lying down and rolling on her back while I pet her. I went back in to get more tortillas (they were a big hit) and asked Derek how he felt about adopting her if she was as nice as he seemed. He said he'd leave it to me, and went back to work.
Hmmm... Things were progressing fast, but I knew from my neighbor that the pound was coming to pick her up in a couple of hours. So I got Deborah down to nap and researched how to temperament test dogs, and then went across the street to touch her all over, pull at her ears, pet her and even take away food while she was eating - basically act like a little, curious toddler - which I happen to have. ;) The pup passed with flying colors, so submissive and gentle - I found myself falling in love. I felt that we could be good for each other. I read about huskies online, prayed, called my mom, called the pound, checked the lost and found, reported her as found... then got her to run with me into the backyard and texted Derek to let him know that unless something changed, we had a dog. :)
I was happy, the dog was happy, and when Deborah awoke to find we had a dog in the backyard? Thrilled.
|First Day Pics|
But she was our dog! And we began all of the adventures that a new and sudden addition of a canine member of the family brings. The vet figured she was probably 2-3 years old, and I agreed, because she was a complete toddler - energetic, curious, loving, eager to please, wants to be with you all the time, excited to learn, getting her nose into everything, playful, etc!
|Huskies shed. A lot. I recommend the "furminator." It is worth it. :)|
We also got her a crate, which Deborah loved - she would frequently put herself in it. Funny enough, I don't think Sariah would go straight to love. ;)
Deborah & Sariah had a complicated relationship at first. Deborah loved playing with her, but every now and then Sariah would jump on her, which did NOT encourage affection - from Deborah or myself. I began training her not to jump (especially not on Deborah - I am first a mama) and thankfully after a little while she learned to keep her paws on the ground.
|One of the many times, Deborah would shake hands and say, "Pleased ta meetchyou. Pleased ta meetchyou, Sariah."|
|Btw, that is not a muzzle, just a gentle lead leash - she could eat, drink, or even bite someone if she wanted to.|
We began spending most of our days in the backyard (luckily the mortifying humidity had worn down by this point), played and took walks all the time - finding that this little husky filled a perfect spot in our little family.
By December we were getting worried about the heartworms, plus the air force had finally sorted out our pay, so we took her to the vet for treatment. I didn't like the vet, but I felt that way about most of the customer service here, so I thought that was just how it was. The treatment was rough, she had to stay there for 5 days (we would visit her) and then we had to keep her on "bedrest" where she couldn't run or jump, stayed inside 24-7 and had to be let out only on a leash to relieve herself. We still managed to have fun though.
Unsurprisingly, our live Christmas tree was one of her favorite hangouts. Isn't she lovely?
A few weeks later, right before Christmas, I took her back to the vet for a check-up and evaluation - where she was cleared to go back to normal activity and start the preventative pill again. She was still coughing and didn't seem quite herself, so I raised my concerns to the vet, but he assured me that it was all fine. Skeptical, I still kept her inside the house, but I would let her go out on her own to go to the bathroom and sniff around the yard for a little bit to help with the cabin fever.
Christmas was fabulous! I loved it.So fun.
New Years was a jerk.
Deborah was getting increasingly sick, and I was right behind her. Derek & Deborah spent the day at urgent care - Deborah had an ear infection, runny nose a fever and probably more, while I stayed at home with fever, aches, a sore throat, runny nose, etc - I thought it was a flu, but was worried about her ears. I couldn't sleep for two days my throat hurt so bad, and in the haze noticed that Sariah had a moment of trouble with her back legs, though it seemed to fix itself. It happened a couple of times the next day and she seemed a little weaker, so I restricted her activity more and tried to get in to see a new vet. Turns out I had strep throat so I got on antibiotics, then tried to get into this vet (that I hoped was better) as soon as possible, despite our fevers. Her appointment was at 3:00 pm January 3rd, but I was worried about her because she seemed to have aged about twelve years in just two days. I called the vet's office and told him that she was really sick and we were coming early. The vet was still on lunch, and while I held Sariah in the office, I knew things were bad. She kept getting weaker and weaker and seemed to lose her strength. She started crying and howling, and my heart broke - helpless to know what more I could do for her. I plead to the receptionist, "She needs help right now! Please!" A minute later the doctor pulled up, and there was a rush to try to help her.
Within two minutes she died.
Perhaps from a heart attack, an embolism from the dead heartworms, any number of things. Perhaps it was preventable, perhaps the heartworms were already dealing their fatal blow. It has been hard. I have cried more than a little. I have grieved at night and lost sleep. She was so sweet and special, and it was such a surprise to lose her so suddenly. Guilt weighed me down. I blamed the first vet. More strongly, I blamed myself for taking her there. I blamed myself for letting her outside - for giving her the preventative - for any number of things that may have contributed. In the end though, those are "what ifs," and it is not me who has control over life and death, but God. Not a sparrow falls without His notice.
I remembered this sign I saw outside of a church graveyard in Santa Fe, NM made hundreds of years past.
"Dios da y Dios quita." Quite a common phrase in English as well, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away," but for some reason it impacted me much more, seeing it on that old spanish church. I was struck by the faith and humility of those early believers, who when faced with the death of their own family members and friends, trusted in the Lord and His plan. Knowing that this natural life has hardships, and death, and tribulations - much more heart wrenching then the loss of a beloved pet - they were grateful for all the good that God had given them. Their loved ones, this beautiful world, and most especially the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, who conquered death for all of us. It is a comfort to know that God is in charge.
I too am thankful for all the amazing things God has given me. I have been richly blessed in so many important and ways, and Sariah was a tender and unexpected blessing from heaven. It still touches me to think that God sent her to me. We had so many good times.
Thanks for coming, Sariah. Have fun in heaven.
Forgive this long post, it's my way to preserve the memories.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World - Israel Kamakawiwoʻole