Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Bug

Katy looks like the love child of Animal the Muppet and a guinea pig. She's about as smart as the guinea pig, too, but the noises she makes aren't nearly as endearing. She's old, and she smells funny. Katy is rather like an affectionate mop.

I love the hell out of this dog.

When I was a wee thing working as kennel manager in a rural shelter, we never quite knew what would walk in the doors. One morning, I came to work to find our small front office covered in animal. Five dogs, six cats, and six large parrots, to be exact. They were part a a hoarder's collection, and since they'd been confiscated, they were under the shelter's care until the court case could be finished - a process that could take over a year. Each kennel that these animals took up took a life away from an animal that could be adopted out. So it wasn't long before these long term residents started coming home with staff in order to make room for dogs that could be saved.

There were five dogs: a blind newfie, a terrified border collie, a wild sky terrier, a cheerful pit bull, and this stupid yorkie. My mom had always wanted a yorkie, so one day I brought the bug home and told my parents to deal with it.

It hasn't always been easy living with Katy, but ten years later, she's still at my parents' house. House braking her was the big training accomplishment of Katy's life. As she has aged, she's become incontinent. She has bilateral grade IV patellar luxations. She broke her foot not long after she came to live with us. Like many old dogs, she has cataracts.

Through it all, she is one of the gentlest, sweetest, little dogs I've ever known. She loves people. She adores children. She likes other dogs (although her idea of play is to run in circles around them and bark).

Last week, Katy fell off the couch and broke her leg. My parent would've been well within reason to have her put to sleep. After all, she's twelve, and the years haven't been kind to her little body. Instead, my parents opted to do the $2000 surgery to repair her knee.

I am so proud of them.

My parents', however, have never taken care of a special needs animal. They also weren't sure how safe it would be for Katy at their house. My sister's BC mix can be a bit wild at times, and my brother and sister both have special needs themselves, so the chance for Katy to be accidentally hurt was fairly high.

So Katy is coming to stay with me for a few weeks while she recovers from her surgery. My parents are usually pretty stoic, it's-just-a-dog sort of people. They don't understand why I have four dogs of my own - let along pit bulls - or why I spend pretty much all my extra money on them. So watching them scurry around giving me instructions in Katy's care was completely worth every canine-related misunderstanding we've ever had.

"Here are her pills. You have to wrap them in chicken lunch meat because if you wrap them in ham, she eats them too fast."

"We're sending you with two of her dog beds, and here's a bunch of blankets for in her crate."

"Um, you know I have dog beds at home?"

"Yes, but you don't have little dog beds."

"Katy has three coats. This is her really warm one, but you need to put this one on under it or her tail will get cold. The third one is for when it's just a little cold out."

"Okay, but now you can never make fun of how many collars I own."

"You can't keep her, you know that, right? You have to bring her back."

"If I wanted to keep Katy, I would've stolen her a long time ago."

Eventually, Katy and I were able to make our way home with only a few tons of extra gear. Katy is sore and sleepy but still a sweet as ever. I'm very happy to spend the next few weeks spoiling my littlest sister rotten.

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