It stormed the other night. Mini hurricane near the Illiana border (which is not a hurricane area, being in the midwest and not really that close to Lake Michigan). It was terrifying driving through it. But I got home, took several deep breaths in the garage, sincerely thankful to be alive and home, and went inside. Suni didn’t come out to greet me and I panicked. Found her set up in my son’s room. He said she’d been cowering in the corner of his room from the storm. Of course I had removed her thunder shirt a couple days before as the wound on her side finally- after a month- healed up. It helps a lot with storms.
But she wouldn’t eat dinner. Normally this is normal for her, but all her pain medication is in the chunks of canned food, so I sat down and fed her from my hands.
It brought up a powerful de ja vu, where I bent my head to hers and asked if she remembered, that we’d done this before? And it was so hard to not break. So I picked up her dry food and continued to hand feed her, like I’d done long ago, and she wagged her tail and ate what I offered, like she’d done back then as well.
She was four months old when I brought her home from work. She’d finally gotten over a horrible case of parvo. I thought for sure we would lose her. She also succumbed to mange really bad and had lost all her hair and a couple layers of skin. She looked like a little piglet! After I brought her home, she broke out in ringworm. We all got it- myself, the boys, the other dogs.
I hate ringworm.
But I owned my house, had children and stepchildren and other dogs to properly socialize her and prove that pits were good dogs, and mostly, I lived outside Denver, which had passed a pit bull ban a couple weeks earlier. I wasn’t going to keep her. I already had two dogs, I did not want a puppy, and terriers are not my preferred breed.
Four months old, and she was smart! She knew how to get to me- through my three year old son whom she attached herself to (he’s still, at 14, her favorite person), and my shepherd, who was my second in command and absolute top dog in the house. She far outranked the husband, too.
Even so, I couldn’t handle three dogs. Suni got better, and my coworkers introduced me to the adult daughter of a long-time client who was interested in adopting her. It sounded solid, they vouched for her, Suni seemed ok with her, and I couldn’t find a reason to say no.
At the end of that week, the woman called me on my cell phone to tell me that something was wrong with Suni. Her boyfriend had poisoned her. I told her to meet me at the clinic and dropped all my shopping and ran. I brought the woman back into surgery with me where I triaged Suni and put in a catheter while waiting for my boss to arrive. The more the woman talked, the more I started to listen. She kept going on and on about this crazy ex-boyfriend, and I yelled at her. I’d very clearly stated that Suni was not a guard dog at our initial meet. She then went into other very concerning things regarding her grandchildren, and then repeated how scared she was to return home, sure this boyfriend would be waiting for her. By then, I needed her gone. I convinced her to go to the police and they’d keep her safe.
I brought Suni home and had her set up in my kitchen on IVs. We weren’t sure what she was given, though the woman had mentioned vicodin a couple times. Later that night, a detective called me on my cell. Small world, we knew each other, as he and his wife had brought in an orphaned kitten a few months prior that I had bottle fed and adopted out. But he told me that the department was pretty knowledgeable about this woman as there’d been issues in the past, and that she was the one to poison Suni.
Suni was terrified of her food bowls for a week and wouldn’t go near them. What the hell did that woman do? I don’t know. But I sat on the floor and fed her by hand for that whole week. After that phone call, the first time I fed her, I’d looked at her and promised ‘That’s it, you’re mine. You aren’t going anywhere again.’
She has been such a good dog. Suni, (also-spelled-as ‘sunny’, but I rarely do things normal) because that’s always been her demeanor, from a two-month old pupy who spent over a month in my clinic fighting to live, while we did everything in our power to keep her from her original owner (in which we obviously succeeded- though not for her three siblings or the other dogs he brought in later) to now. Life is good, even when it hasn’t been. She can’t use her leg now, but she’s still running and she’s still wagging her tail and rushing to greet me when I come home. Twelve years later, and she’s the only dog I have left. And we’re heading back to how we started.