This is the story of Simon, a puppy mill dog.
Anyone who know me knows how much I love dogs. I joke that I prefer their company over people sometimes. There is just something about a dog.
The unconditional loyalty.
They make you feel like the most important person in the world.
And all they ask for in return is love.
My husband and I have had dogs almost all of our married life. Our Golden Retriever Simon was our first “baby”. We adopted him in early 2002 (unknowingly from a puppy mill) when we had barely been married for 2 years. He was 12 weeks old. Almost 13 years later, last month, we had to say goodbye to him.
It wasn’t easy, but his memory lives on and he is a part of our hearts forever.
13 years is actually a long lifespan for a Golden, but his life was far from easy. At 8 months old we discovered he had severe hip displacia and required surgery. This is common in goldens, and even more-so when they are puppy mill dogs. We could spend $7,000 to have his hips fixed or he would be unable to walk by the time he was 2.
We chose surgery. It took 2 surgeries and 16 weeks of recovery time during which we had to help him walk with a towel under his belly and otherwise keep him off his feet. It was quite a challenge with an 8 month old puppy, but we managed.
As he grew, his hair finally grew back and he did get complete mobility back after the surgery. He was able to run and play pain-free like any healthy dog could. The surgeries became a thing of the past and he was nothing but a joy in our lives.
Until that one day.
My mother-in-law called me at work and told me that Simon had acted kind of funny and was shaking a little bit and making weird noises. She said it lasted a few seconds and then he was fine afterwards so we didn’t really think much of it.
Until that other one day.
One early morning in 2008 we were awoken by the sound of Simon screeching and crying. We heard him get up from our room and fumble his way through the hallway and into the kitchen, still making these awful sounds. After what seemed like 15 minutes but was likely around 5 or less, Simon stopped shaking and just laid there with his head up and the most demented look I have ever seen on a dog. He had lost control of ALL bodily functions and didn’t seem to have any idea what to do. That day, the answer to “what’s that smell?” was crystal clear and a smell unlike anything I had ever smelled.
This was one of the most scary things I had every experienced, and at the time we had no idea what to do. Over the years Simon actually had more seizures, but they were infrequent and didn’t seem to affect him much. That is, until 2012 when he had a series of 4 seizures in the course of an hour. They left him partially paralyzed with neurological damage. For days he could barely even stand up, but he did get more use of his back legs after a few weeks, though he was never 100% again.
But life went on, a tennis ball still made him happy and with some vet prescribed medications, his seizures were kept at bay.
And we thought, what else could go wrong?
Until something else did.
Somehow, in 2013, Simon managed to get a hold of and eat an entire 15 oz container of raisins. That’s a lot of raisins. And raisins can be toxic to dogs.
After calls to emergency vets, I had to induce vomiting and he spent the entire next day at the vet on an IV. There is no way to know which dogs will react to the raisins, so they did what they could to ensure any potential digestion was flushed from his system. It was scary not knowing if he would react or not. Survive or not.
But survive he did.
Until October 11, 2014.
After yet another fall down the stairs due to the continued neurological degeneration in his back legs, we knew it was time. Time to make the most difficult of decisions.
The last thing he did was play with his tennis ball.
And our lives will never be the same.
Dogs can’t tell you if something is bothering them, and some of them, like Simon, have such an amazing spirit and zest for life that even if they are in pain, they don’t really let on. And when your dog gets hurt or has something wrong, most of us have no idea what to do. For us, thankfully, we have always had a trusted veterinarian to help us manage these frightening scenarios that were destined to be a part of Simon’s life. I told you about his seizures and “the raisin incident” but I didn’t tell you about the food allergies, the infections, and the numerous other maladies he had over the years.
As a dog lover, you just can’t go it alone. You want the best for your furry family member. And when tragedy strikes you need to know that you have someone in your corner who knows what to do. From major accidents to tummy troubles, proper nutrition and vet checks are a key factor in keeping their tails wagging no matter what is wrong with them. Despite Simon’s many maladies caused by being a puppy mill dog, he was actually “healthy” at the end in many respects and I know we have great nutrition to thank for that.
Have you ever had a puppy mill dog?