In a post from yesterday, I mentioned three puppies who didn’t survive after their mother was bitten by a rattlesnake, leaving her unable to continue nursing her pups.
The last of the three, a tiny female, touched my heart in many ways. I’ve heard that animals, great and small, all have unique qualities which touch the human heart, and this little puppy certainly touched mine.
A group of highly energetic boys, between the ages of 6 and 9, and their parents, visited us at the ranch this weekend. The boys set the wheels in motion for constant activity: horseback riding, swimming, hay rides, cowboys and indians, puppies, rattlesnake decapitation, and tag. A full weekend!
In the midst of the never ending uproar, our little puppies became the main attraction during the entire weekend. I figured if the pups could survive three days with these boys, then they could probably survive anything.
Each boy gave a puppy a name. There was Rocket, Thunder, Tophina, Poe, Panda, and a nine-year old boy named Topher, took a special interest in the tiniest pup, who was still very weak. He decided to call her Hope.
On the day of the children’s arrival, the puppies had just begun eating by themselves, but we noticed Hope was too weak to eat alone. I separated her from the others, and made her a comfy little bed out of a candlestick box, wrapped her up in a pretty pink bandana, and hand fed her all weekend. Every two hours, I carefully opened her tiny mouth with my fingers, and dropped in a warm gruel I made from crushed puppy food and formula.
She seemed to perk up some on Saturday. Her body warmed up and she was able to stand by herself. Once or twice she managed a tiny bark, which was very encouraging. During the day, the boys checked on her periodically, never forgetting to send her good thoughts, while hoping, she would soon recover her strength.
Hope and I spent a lot of time together. I enjoyed waking up during the night to see her sleeping next to me in my bed, safely tucked under the covers, and snuggly wrapped in her pink bandana. Although her tiny body fit perfectly in the palm of my hand, I gently placed her under the crook of my arm where she curled up, and slept peacefully all night long.
I too, sent her good thoughts. Every time I looked into her tiny eyes, as she gazed back at me, I saw a spark of light: a sign there was a tiny being inside, fighting to survive. Little Hope was still there, and although her body was sick, that flicker of light in her eyes, inspired me to keep trying.
My logical self told me, she was too weak. I’ve never liked the word “reality” and this time reality told me it was more than likely, she wouldn’t make it. I could see that clearly. But sometimes the heart has other ideas, and we aspire to great lengths when stirred by inspirations of the heart. My plan, was to keep her alive until I could get her to the vet on Sunday. Like it or not, we all know, our plan may not be what actually pans out. What it comes down to in this kind of situation, and especially in the natural world: the strong survive.
The spark in her eyes sustained my hope until Sunday morning when I found her unable to raise her head or stand. I dreaded thinking about it, but the end was drawing near. Her eyes no longer held their light. Instead, all I saw when I looked into them was a dull, unseeing cloudiness.
I still continued to work on her. The boys and I sat with her in the sunlight to warm her up. When they asked why she was so still, eventhough my heart was sinking fast, I didn’t want them to give up just yet, so I told them she was sleeping. We fed her more gruel and drops of water, but all to no avail. Hope died that morning after the boys left. She hung on for three days and during that time, the meaning of the word hope, fully enveloped my consciousness more than ever before.
She showed me, even the tiniest of souls (and I do believe dogs have souls) can teach us so much. I learned about not giving up, even when a situation is at its worst. The human heart takes on new boundaries, even in the face of logic, and works miracles if we let it. Hope didn’t survive, but she stirred the inspiration of my heart, and that of eight little boys who never failed to send her their good thoughts and loving encouragement.
Hope reminded me how important it is to keep moving forward, to keep trying, even when we think we can’t. And if we fail to overcome whatever is pressing against us, we can rest assured, within the deep knowing of our hearts, we did our absolute best.