Monday, January 3, 2011

A dog named Alice

I had a Shetland Sheepdog, her name is Alice.
I adopted her almost a decade ago. This July, she would have been 10.
She has been with me through thick and thin, through singlehood, dating, marriage and finally my starting a family of my own.
She was a pampered pooch, sleeping on my bed and going on car rides with us.
She was gentle and had a great temperament, she would make the perfect dog, except she had skin problems.
We brought her to countless vets, from ARC to Namly to All Pets. We ran a battery of tests on her, blood tests, allergy tests, skin scrapings, samples, hormone tests.... but everytime, those tests came back Normal. While other people jump at the word "normal", for us, it just meant they couldn't find the root of Alice's problems.
The vets told us there was no cure for Alice. We could only do symptomatic treatment and hope that her skin problem doesnt come back.
But we didnt stop there - for Alice, I researched and fed her BARF, we tried Homeopathy, steroids, hormone replacements, antibiotics, even a vegetarian diet at one point ..... We tried everything we could, but still nothing worked for my Alice.

Alice moved with me to my in-law's house when I got married and Adam was born. She stayed with Maverick, our other dog, and everyone stayed under the same roof.
Bless my in-laws, though they had asked me to give Alice away, they didn't force me to when I declined.
When my family knew I was pregnant with Adam, they wanted me to give her away.
I was adamant on keeping her. It wasn't easy juggling work/school/baby/dogs (esp one unwell dog), but I did [keep her].
I am a strong believer that kids who grow up with dogs end up being better people in life.
So kept Alice I did, and Adam loves our 2 dogs. He knows them by name. In fact, he knew their names even before he knew how to call anyone of us in the household.

Adam, compared to my cousins' and friends' children who didn't have dogs, was on the contrary stronger than them, as in he seldom fell sick and even if he had the occasional flu or cough, he bounced back to health very fast, fit like a horse. Frequent travelling, climate & weather changes also didn't seem a problem.
Alice's skin problems didn't seem to bother him either when he was crawling and picking everything up from the floor to eat, including balls of dog fur at 7-8mths old.
Maybe he was already immune since Day 3 of his life at home.
Now that Adam is walking, I let him walk Alice downstairs when I am around, and it's always a funny sight, one Terror Tod with one Old Dame. My son & dog are walking proof to those ignorant Aunties that not all dogs bite and children CAN have dogs and still not be retarded.
My fav retort to those Aunties when they tell their charges "Dont go near, the woh-woh will bite" is - "Yah lor go away my dog will bite one" and there Adam is, bossing my dogs around, making those Aunties look stupid.
Therefore, having Alice coexist with Adam didn't bother us. Until recently.

For 3 weeks now, Adam is having progressively worsening Bronchitis.
He's coughing so badly, every cough brings up alot of secretions and several times he nearly got choked on his own phlegm. From a normal cough mixture from our regular PD, he was "upgraded" to Augmentin from another PD whose clinic is near our home and more convenient for me at that point because I was working night shifts then and barely had enough sleep.
Still, one week of Augmentin and 2 different types of cough/runny nose meds didn't cure.
So I brought him to yet another doctor which Aunt LY recommended, Nam Seng Clinic at Bukit Timah. I brought my Baby across the island to see the doctor and he said Adam's Bronchitis has worsened to a very dangerous stage. He even did a scope on Adam and asked me to see for myself, which I did, and his nasal cavities and throat were all lined with thick secretions and were inflamed.
The doctor gave us lots of advise, one of which is to remove the dogs otherwise Adam would develop more major illnesses such as Asthma and/or need to be hospitalised.

It was a painful decision to make, but if faced with such a dilemma in life - who would you choose?

I had no choice but to let Alice go. I asked everywhere, nobody was willing to take in a 10yr old dog with skin problems. People wanted young and healthy dogs, and I don't blame them.
Dog shelters I tried calling were also unable to take her, due to "space constraints". I don't blame them either - those young healthy dogs probably had better chances of being rehomed.
Andy tried posting in VW Forum but so far only one person PMed him but didn't call.
Bringing Alice to a vet to be "put to sleep" has never been one of my options, because I am not God and I am in no position to decide whether she lives or dies, and under what circumstances she dies.
So really, I am faced with no other choice. She has already been dealt with a death sentence by societal standards.

People always say "Having kids changes everything". Sure they do, but it had never crossed my mind to give up my dogs when we have a baby. So it must be a cruel irony that right now, I am faced with such a situation that God decided to let me make a choice - my son or my dog.

Right now, I can only feel great pain and sorrow because I have never wanted Alice to think that I would abandon her one day, but I did.
Some days, I come home exhausted from work, some days I work night shifts, some days I forget to feed her till the next morning. Her bowls are always empty because Mavy is a faster eater, and Alice now has to drink from the toilet pails.
She no longer shares our bed, and no longer leads a Diva life. But no matter how badly we treat her, she always loves us and forgives us.
There is nowhere in this world where she would rather be other than in our room, and we know it because room is where she always ends up being.

It is a painful decision for me to make.
No matter what happens, I hope that Alice will go on to be a happy dog in a better place, and may she suffer no more. If I ever meet her again, I will still love her all the same and I will still want her to be my dog.

She's a great dog that deserves no suffering and no pain.
Dear Alice, I have lost the battle I fought so hard for - for you to be with us till your last breath.
I hope that you can forgive us one last time.

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