Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throw Back Thursday Tribute To Our Lil' Lobo

I'm not entirely committed to posting a Throw Back Thursday on my Facebook wall every single week. I applaud the die-hard-TBT-ers. I'm always amused by the photos depicting life back in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Those were the days. Pay phones. AquaNet hair spray. Cassette tapes. Jelly shoes. MTV aired a steady stream of music videos instead of glamorizing teen pregnancy. Kids played outside. Simpler times.

Every so often I participate in the infamous TBT. I did today. I was in the mood. My inspiration surfaced last night while scrolling through photo archives. Our Lil' Lobo. I only have a dozen or so "before" photos of Lobo...the ones taken before he was transported to our home as a foster almost 7 months ago. I took photos after he arrived. Lots. They're difficult to look at. In the here and now, Lobo is a happy boy. He has physically recovered to the extent in which he ever will.

Like with most rescue pups, we never fully know what happened. Often times, their story reveals itself in the months and years after being rescued. Or, bits and pieces are gathered through conversation with this person or that. As in the case with Lobo.

When he was transported to our home, we were certain of a few things. The day prior, he endured major surgery to remove one of his hind legs. A severe, untreated infection had turned into gangrene. Most of the flesh on his leg was gone prior to surgery. There was no other option but to remove his hind leg.

In addition, he had been infested with fleas. Most of the fur on his boy was gone. Deep scabs covered his bare skin. The odor permeating from his body, caused by the heavy remnants of flea dirt (flea shit) was enough to knock us over. He did receive an aggressive flea treatment while at the animal hospital, and not a single flea survived, however, that doesn't alleviate flea dirt.

A decent bubble bath or two is what he needed, but that had to wait until his sutures were removed.

Lobo was also emaciated. His hip bones, ribs and spine stuck out like a sore thumb. Visually, this was amplified by his almost fur-less body.

There was a deep scar on his remaining hind leg. Towards his ankle. The scar wrapped around his bony leg completely. While the cause of this is unknown, we're fairly certain, at one time, he had something wrapped around his leg so tight, it dug into his skin. Enough to cause a visible scar.

We also noticed scars (clouded areas) on his eyeballs. This could have been caused from excessive scratching from flea infestations.

Overall, when he arrived, Lobo was in poor shape. Skinny. Stinky. Dopey from the pain medication. Itchy from the dozen or so scabs. Trying to adjust with only 1 hind leg. He did remarkably well with that considering he had lived 2 years of his life with 4 legs.

Despite all, we were impressed by his demeanor and how affectionate his was towards us. When I look back, I wonder if he knew.

It was meant to be. The two women taking care of him were in the process of becoming "foster failures."

The first couple of weeks were the most critical and required 'round the clock care. He had trouble getting comfortable. I can't even imagine. The removal of a limb and having to wear an inflatable collar. And the itching. The only time he rested peacefully, and for any length of time, was in the morning when he napped with me on the sofa. I'd recline. Lobo would stretch out on my chest. He did the same with Lisa. When she arrived home from work, I'd crawl into bed for a short nap while she took over.

Between his nap times, we contended with wound care, frequent massages to relieve the itching and loosing the scabs, waterless baths, administering medications, nourishing his tiny body, etc.

Coco and Sophie welcomed Lobo with open paws. Their response to Lobo took us both by surprise. Not only were they curious of his existence in our home, they took turns checking up on him. At that point, Lobo resided in the home office. Gated. Lisa and I agreed there would be no "gate up" interaction until a day or so after Lob's sutures were removed.

Unless Lisa and I were in the kitchen or bathroom, Lobo was never out of our range of vision. 

On occasion, when watching TV or a movie, Lobo would sit on my lap or Lisa's. Coco and Sophie snuggled between us. They sniffed Lobo. Shortly after, they'd get comfy.

Maybe they knew too?

The day after Lobo's sutures were removed, and he got a much needed bath, the gates were lifted. They sniffed each other. Sophie pounced the floor. She wanted to play. Coco fetched a chew bone and started chewing. It was as if they had lived their entire life together. The 3 of them were inseparable.

We couldn't have been more proud of Coco and Sophie. 

Two weeks had gone by since Lobo's arrival. Lisa and I were on the same page. Thinking the same thoughts. We're both stubborn. It had gotten to the point of "who's going to say it first."

I caved.

I approached Lisa in the kitchen one night.

"The universe works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, we don't understand the stream of events. But, what I do know is that Lobo was meant to join our family...permanently. He loves and adores us. Coco and Sophie took him in and immediately accepted him. Look at 'em."

Lisa was fixated on the scene. Me. Lobo in my arms. Tears cascading down my cheeks. I had her attention.

"I know we didn't plan on having 3 kids. I know that's going to mean additional sacrifices and strictly budgeting our finances. And we'll have to stay home more than we already do. I'm okay with all of that. I just can't...let him go. There's a bond I can't explain. We were meant to be his Mommies." 

Whether Lisa wants to admit it or not, her eyes flooded with tears. She cleared her throat. I know that sound. It's the last attempt at keeping her tears at bay. I had gotten to her. I had said what she had wanted to say.

"Make the call or send the text."

I did. A few seconds later, Lisa took Lobo from my arms.

"Welcome home, little boy. You have a family now. Two Mommies. A brother and sister."

In the weeks and months to follow, Lobo continued down the path of recovery and settled into his new home. In February, we learned he had Lyme Disease. That came as no surprise. And, despite weeks of strength therapy, the mobility in his remaining hind leg wasn't at full capacity and tires easily. He's able to hobble down a few stairs, but he won't go up. He's not able to jump on the sofa or bed. He wipes out on the linoleum floor in the kitchen.

Our original plan was to build stairs so he could get on the sofa and bed, but we held off. Maybe after a few months of regaining his strength he could climb stairs. No go. Now, we're making plans to build a couple of ramps. And, we're going to decorate our kitchen with a large throw rug and several smaller scatter rugs. They will act as speed bumps so he doesn't wipe out.

A few months after adopting Lobo, we learned more about his past. At one time, he was a "frequent flier" in his old neighborhood. He was allowed to roam unsupervised for hours at a time. Once neighbors complained, he was confined to the backyard.

Between the condition he was in once admitted to the hospital in January, his reactions and behavior towards certain organic and environmental stuff, and some of the puzzle pieces revealed in the months to follow, it's not difficult to put the entire puzzle together.

With every ounce of my being, I try not to judge other humans and their circumstances. Sometimes, like with Lobo, it's difficult. 

My patchwork version is Lobo was taken in as a puppy. Small. Cute. He grew up. His former humans didn't take into account the expense involved with having a pup. Vaccinations. Flea, tick and heartworm preventative. Food. Medical expenses. The cost of neutering (he was intact when rescued). Toys. Bedding. Grooming. They also didn't grasp that allowing him to roam freely was a bad idea especially with no flea, tick and heartworm preventative or current vaccinations.

They probably relied on the neighbors to provide him with nourishment. There was little, if any, protection from the elements. Once the proper authorities were aware of the situation, Lobo was kept inside. Isolated in a room or crate. I suspect they attempted to alleviate his discomfort and medical issues stemming from flea and tick infestations, skin infections and everything between.

It wasn't enough. There came a point when Lobo's body started caving to the infections. I want to convince myself that his emaciation was due to his infected body rather than his former humans not feeding him. The version of my story when it gets to that part is slightly altered to pacify my emotional well-being.

I don't think I could handle knowing his former humans stopped feeding him because...well, the chance of his survival, at that point, was deteriorating quick. So, why waste the money on food, right?

One thing led to another and the authorities were called in. This time, to take custody. His body wouldn't have survived another 24 hours.

Lobo had his exhale moment a couple of months ago. It was the point when he realized this is it.

This is my home. These are my mommies. I will always be taken care of. I won't have to worry when I'll get my next meal. Or where. I have safe and comfortable places to rest and nap. I am part of a family. I will never be neglected or in pain. If I get sick, I will be taken to see a doctor so I can feel better. I will never be left outside or in a room or crate. When I'm outside, my Mommies will be too. I will be loved. 

Lisa and I noticed when this epiphany took place. Lobo exhaled. He relaxed. He allowed himself to trust all the love and goodness that surrounded him. It wasn't temporary.

This was it. 

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