Dedicated to those gone but never forgotten
Michel ~ Rest in peace my little angel
Female - 10 Years Old
Rottweiler Shepherd Mix
Michel was one of those special girls that you cant help but love.
When I first saw Michel, a 10 year old 90 lb Rottweiler / Shepherd, she was in a 6' x 4' pen that she shared with a 15 lb Schnauzer, and was eating her igloo dog house. It was down to 3/4 ths of what it should be, with half of the dome gone. I was told this was her toy, her favorite thing to do, and her third dog house. I looked around at the 96 dogs in surrounding kennels. The noise was deafening, and the whole scene was chaos, and overwhelming. I thought to myself...this is not her toy, it is her only way of releasing her stress and pent up energy from living in this cramped, loud, stress filled environment...I later found out I was only partially right.
Michel's owner, a hoarder / breeder, told me she was a "rescued dog". In his mind he saved her, in my mind he unknowingly sentenced her to a lifetime of torture. Michel's owner fed her and he did his best to spray out her pen and change her water. At these times he would say hi to her, and Michel would get all excited jump around and spin in circles. He would smile, give her a pat on the head, and move to the next pen. The majority of the day Michel would obsessively chew and destroy her dog house. She occasionally interacted with the Schnauzer in her pen, but was mostly focused on the dog house. This was her life. Her owner felt she had a good life because she had food water shelter, was never beat, or physically abused, and he felt he loved her.
When Michel came to me she had to be held again in a kennel waiting for a rescue group to take her. This time it was a much larger kennel that she had to herself. I put the oldest dog house I had in her kennel, (fearing she may try to destroy it in which case I would have to remove it) and filled it with soft bedding. I took her for a short walk, and showed her new home to her. She settled in nicely. I went in with her and gave her a head to tail back massage, a great scratch behind the ears and told her I loved her. There was a foxhound named Hannah in the kennel next to her and I watched as they got to know each other. It was quiet and she and Hannah seemed to get along quite well. Michel seemed peaceful, and happy. She stuck her head in the dog house, then drug the bedding out. I thought oh no here we go, but then she circled a few times on the bedding and lay down. She left her dog house alone. The next few days, I followed the same procedure for her and things were well, she did not chew on her house at all. I thought to myself, she needed to be away from the other dogs, the stress and the noise, more space, something to do, and most of all, more attention. Problem solved....so I thought.
A few days later it was time to give most of the dogs vaccinations. I set up an empty kennel a few kennels down from everyone to use as our vetting area. Hannah was first. She was happy to go with me and all was fine, until I noticed Michel start pacing. She could still see us, and Hannah was doing well, but Michel's pacing quickened. Then she went for the dog house. She started chewing obsessively on the house. I called to her a few times, and she would look at us, but then right back to the dog house. I went in with her and tried to quiet her by scratching her back and distracting her, but it would only be for an instant then right back to the dog house. We quickly gave Hannah her shots and put her back in her kennel. Michel stopped the chewing came over to Hannah, and licked her through the fencing. That's when I understood. Michel was chewing her dog house because it was all she knew to do when she was stressed. She was stressed because she was worried about her friend. She had bonded so strongly in that short time with her new friend Hannah. Michel needed the space that her new kennel gave her, she needed the quiet, but most of all she needed a friend. Michel lay down against the fence, and Hannah laid on the other side right next to her, both were happy and at peace. I tried hard to swallow the lump in my throat.
Michel's owner thought he gave her a good life, she had food water shelter and he loved her but with 97 dogs to care for, the love and the time he had for her was merely a passing hi. Michel needed more...they all needed more....WE ALL need more. Michel needed what we all need, to feel love, and to be able to show love back. The noise, the stress and chaos of her former home was bad, but the feeling of loosing her friend and being alone was worse. I took that beautiful face of hers into my hands and told her "I promise you, I will find you a home of your own, where you will never be lonely again. I love you and your new family will too."
I am very sad to say I was not able to keep that promise to Michel. After being with me only a short time of about 2 weeks, Michel was found in her kennel one morning having a massive seizure. It was apparent that she had been having them most of the night. She was rushed to the animal hospital where she was given a shot. Blood work was being done, but within a couple of hours she went into another complete seizure. The vet explained that she was in very bad shape, and her prognosis was not good. After much discussion it was felt the most humane thing to do was to let her go.
I drove to the nearest fast food place, got her a cheeseburger and fries and asked the vet for some time with her. I held the food up to her nose, but she did not respond. Her breathing was so shallow, and I am not sure she even knew I was there, but I held her, and I told her I loved her and how sorry I was. The vet came in and put her to rest, I stayed with her and held her until she passed.
I returned to the kennel with a broken heart full of unkept promises, and regret that Michel went through this ordeal alone, and that she never had the love that I wanted her to have. Then I heard it. The mournful howls of Hannah, and I knew Hannah was grieving too. She was right beside her all night, she couldn't stop it, but Michel was not alone. Michel was loved, I loved her, if only for a short time, Hannah loved her, and was by her side every minute of every day, and in his own way, her former owner loved her. She spent the last two weeks of her life happier than she had ever been...she is one of the lucky ones...if only for a short time...she knew love. I will always love you Michel, I am so blessed you came into my life.
Hannah got a new room mate, and although they run back and forth playing, every time I hear that howl I think she is calling to her old friend Michel letting her know that she too misses her and will always love her.