I am somewhat disheartened today which is a step up from last night when I was in full attack mode. I am not a huge participant on social media. Correction ~ on Facebook (I use Twitter). I do however have a personal FB page which enables me to stay in touch with friends and former colleagues in NJ. When my dog Callie was diagnosed with canine lymphoma last October I created a FB page for her. I’m a researcher by nature and wanted to share articles, nutritional recommendations for dogs undergoing chemo and so forth. Sadly Callie passed a month later so her page is more of a tribute. When my German Shepherd developed some health issues in the beginning of 2016, I created a FB page for her called Sasha’s Journey. Little did I know the path her journey would take; stem cell therapy. I frequently update her page with procedural videos, photos, and general musings about the medical issues she has and which treatment modalities work or don’t work. That’s about the extent of my FB activity and most of the time I do it using my iPhone. It was less than a year ago that I learned about the many features of FB because I happened to be on my laptop where the format is different from mobile. For example I discovered we have an “other” mailbox which is where messages sent by users we’re not associated with wind up. *Hold that the thought* Interesting but I quickly forgot about it. Yesterday however I was on my laptop researching boots for my GSD. Sasha’s primary issue is knuckling of her rear left foot which is a residual effect of a neurological event she suffered in 2011. In essence knuckling means a dog will turn their paw under when walking (the frequency depends on the dog’s medical issue) and this can lead to abrasions on top of their foot as well as loss of balance. Wearing a single boot on the affected paw can help their mobility and reduce injury. I have a small collection of boots but hadn’t found the right one for her until recently. Yesterday I was online printing the sizing chart and looking at the company web-sight. Regressing a moment ~ I admit I don’t have my laptop tweaked because I’m not on it much. It’s only a few months old but I spend so much time driving for veterinary appointments that it’s easier to use my iPhone. While looking at the boots I kept seeing annoying little notification boxes and finally checked to see what they were. There were messages in my “other” FB mailbox; messages about Sasha. As I read my mouth literally fell open because although there were only four, they were beyond cruel. One troll said that I was forcing a “half dead dog” to stay alive by playing Dr. Frankenstein. One suggested I shoot her. The next just rambled on about stem cell therapy being against God’s will. The last wrote that I was torturing Sasha and she needs to be “put down”. That begs a question I’ve always pondered ~ what exactly does “put down” mean? I’ve never liked associating that term with the death of a beloved companion animal. I put down my knitting, put down a fork. How do I put down a dog? I chose not to answer any of the misanthropic message senders but because it bothered me SO MUCH I made a rather lengthy post on Sasha’s Journey which I’d like to share on my blog for anyone who might be interested. You know, I’ve had a rather difficult life in that I overcame (for the most part) horrific childhood abuse and incarceration before age 10. I kept moving forward and with the birth of my first child felt I finally had a family, I was complete. The missing component to happiness that had eluded me for so long was finally in place. Animals also played an extremely significant role in my life as their unconditional love and acceptance allowed me to feel grounded. I made a career switch to nursing and worked in a large inner city teaching hospital where I saw everything and anything. I am most definitely somewhat cynical and sarcasm is my middle name. Even with my feisty Jersey personality I never intentionally try to be cruel or unkind to another person. I’ve been the recipient of vicious comments and it hurts so why would I do the same to another? Yet despite the passing years, life experiences and just plain crap that one encounters, I still cling to the belief that people are inherently good and when idiots like those message senders shatter my perceptions, I still manage to get myself into a tizzy and last night’s tizzy was of mammoth proportions! Now onto that post…
I usually use FB while on my phone so when I access it from my laptop I see the many features I often miss when on a smart phone. Today while researching boots on the Mac I saw something I wish I hadn’t but because of my personality, can’t let it go and therefore shall address it. I am very sad at the moment regarding a few messages I happened upon in the “other” FB mailbox; messages about my GSD, Sasha Clarice (Angel Von den Westlichen Bergen), for whom this page was created to chronicle her medical needs and subsequent treatments. From the same litter as her “sister” Inga Patrice (Anika Von den Westlichen Bergen) whom I purchased from the breeder at 8 weeks, Sasha initially went to another family in Maine. A very affluent and connected local family. Sadly, her first few months were anything but pampered; she was barely tolerated. They wanted a GSD who was extremely quiet and docile ~ one who acted like their recently deceased 14 yr old GSD. Delusional thinking. When Sasha (she had a different name back then) tore up a tissue she was put inside a closet. There were no toys or treats in their home. They never took her picture, not even once. For some strange reason they would call me weekly to compare Sasha and Inga. Perhaps because there were only (3) females in the litter they assumed all female pups acted alike? They took her to numerous vets because she frequently licked her genitalia. I mean, multiple vets in different towns! One day I overheard a conversation while in a local store that upset me greatly. That evening I called Sasha’s owners and the wife answered. I didn’t want to say what I’d overheard so decided to lead the owner into the direction I needed. My fear was substantiated. Sasha had been hit by a slow-moving car in front of their home and thrown several feet into the air before landing in the street. My first question was “What did the vet say”? Can you imagine my shock when the woman said they didn’t take her? This from someone who was obsessed about a puppy’s occasional licking? Trying to keep calm I asked how Sasha was and I will NEVER forget the sinister laugh on the other end of the phone. She said (and I quote): “Well she’s been rather mellow and quiet the past few days. Too bad she can’t get hit more often”. Then she laughed again. I made up my mind then and there to get Sash away from these freaks. In the past they had offered her to me because she committed some dastardly deed like shredding a piece of mail but when I arrived to get her they’d changed their minds. So I searched the internet, found the type of contract I needed and filled it out. The next time they called I was ready. I arrived with contract in hand in addition to my daughter who is a notary. I had them date and sign before I even sat down. The contract clearly specified that it was irrevocable. I changed her name to Sasha because it rhymed with her original name (so as not to confuse her), registered her with the AKC since they never bothered, plus had her microchipped.
I still remember the look on her face when she moved to her new home. She was clueless about toys such as ropes and antlers. I remember watching her face while she watched Inga and Callie as they went to the toy basket, water bowl, or the outside play equipment and then followed suit. I cried because I was happy she was in her forever home yet sad that her first year had been so terrible. She and Inga had alpha issues and it took a lot of time and work. The one constant has been Sasha’s resilience and happy disposition. She trained hard in Schutzhund and could scale a 6′ fence in a flash. She took to water like a fish and snow like a polar bear. When she became sidelined by the FCE (Fibrocartilaginous Embolism) also called a spinal stroke in 2011, she worked hard to recover and recover she did; 85% use of the affected leg. In 2013 she had sudden onset of PFD (Perianal Fistula Disease) but once again, persevered and between her support team at home and an incredible internist she’s been in remission for over (3) years. Remissions of that length are almost unheard of. PFD is such a nasty disease that many GSDs have to have their tails amputated. Yet here’s Sasha, a testament to overcoming and defying the odds.
So for the few people who, after reading Sasha’s Journey, have sent me private messages suggesting I am torturing her, that she is too old, too weak, too blind, too ___________ (insert adjective) and should be “put down” I say this. Ain’t happening! Sasha is loved and cared for, her needs are more than met, and most of all, she is happy and content. If reading her page disturbs you then I suggest you find another more aesthetically pleasing page to follow. FB has a plethora of pages that have pretty dog pictures accompanied by happy dog quotes. Sasha’s Journey is dedicated to a real dog, with tangible health issues – issues that affect thousands of companion dogs on any given day. Her page documents not only her struggles and setbacks but progress made due to her incredible strength, determination and phenomenal veterinarians. Most of all ~ Sasha’s Journey represents love. It’s enabled me to share her story with other people so that they can see options or alternatives that they might not known about or are simply curious about. As I frequently post, stay tuned ~ Sasha is a work in progress.
Oh and as for the freak couple that originally owned Sasha? I saw them towards the end of April while in a local market. The husband asked about Sasha and I told them she was going to be undergoing SCT in a few days to help her arthritis. His response? “Next time do the smart thing like us, get a poodle”. If attitudes like theirs are indicative of being smart, I opt to remain dumb.