Every now and again a foster dog comes through our door that takes up a special place at the bottom of my heart. Our three legged foster dougie was the first, and our demo boy darby doo’s was the second.
I remember the day that I first saw him. My heart just broke into pieces when I saw how bad of a case of mange he had.
Right then and there, I made him a promise that he would get better, that nothing bad would ever happen to him again, and that he would have a great life from here on out.
Little did I know then, that my promises would turn out to be empty.
About a month and a half after we got Darby, I woke up, started my morning routine and began to feed all the dogs. I realized, the normally enthusiastic Darby, was conspicuously absent from the huddle around the food bin. In the moment, I didn’t think too much of it. He has a tendency to be easily distracted by just about anything. That all changed when I walked through our bedroom door. He hobbled over to me as if he had aged 15 years overnight. My exuberant little boy was using every ounce of his willpower to put one foot in front of the other.
I have a group of rambunctious, rough, playful canines. I’m used to bumps, bruises, and sore muscles. It was immediately apparent to me that this was something altogether different. His eyes seemed to convey a different kind of pain. I kept myself calm, knowing panic would only make things worse, but internally I was losing it. I got on the phone with our rescue and had them here within 30 minutes to get him to the vet.
As we waited, he was shivering. It was still early in the year and the mornings still had a bit of a chill to them. We moved to the sidewalk and sat in the sun, all the while I whispered in his ear to be strong. That I would be here when he got back, and it was all going to be ok. As I loaded him into the back of the car, it took everything I had not to lose it, but I wanted him to feel strong, so I put on that face, and off he went.
I was beside myself with worry for the rest of the day. We usually spend a good portion of the day in the backyard playing with the dogs or inventing new fun things to get into. None of that happened that day. Normally, I will lose my phone every 5-10 minutes like clockwork. Not on that day, it stayed with me wherever I went.
The phone call finally came late that night. Darby doodles had an intestinal infection that had caused swelling and effectively made his bowels impassable. It was the worst news that we possibly could have heard. He needed to have emergency surgery to even figure out how to treat the problem.
It was an earth shattering realization for me that he may not make it through. I thought about him constantly while I lay in bed that night, unable to sleep. Those promises I made him kept crashing around in my head like a wrecking ball running through a glass house. I had failed him, I didn’t know how, but I had failed him.
By some miracle, and minus 3 feet of his intestines, that tough little man survived the surgery. He was back on his road to recovery.
Darb’s spent the next two months on strict crate arrest. No more than 1/2 cup of food every 3 hours for a month. I ended up completely obsessed with his daily pooping habits. Making sure there was no blood, that it was “healthy poop”, and that it looked normal.
Throughout this whole journey, we formed a special bond, Darby and I. I would get in his crate with him often. We would just hang out. Me rubbing on him, him loving on me. In the back of my mind, I always knew that someone would eventually want him, but I tried not to think about it. He eventually got better, and we spent most of our days in the backyard playing.
Today that time had finally come. He left us to go to his forever home. I’ve never been emotional when a foster has been adopted before. Even dougie, I was happy that he found his home(even though I wanted to keep him too) but, with everything Darby doodle butt and I have been through together, this one is definitely different. I find myself on the verge of tears as I recount his story. Visions of talking to him while we had to wait the 10 min for his shampoo to work, the first time he figured out how to play like a dog with the flirt pole, the look on his face when he left that morning for the vets, and more keep running through my head. It’s hard not to be sad.
The bright spot is that the people that adopted him are amazing. They have a brother for him that could be his twin. Amazingly enough, their daughter has the same name as the Little Lady(crazy right?). They know his limitations, have been thoroughly vetted for suitability and have passed with flying colors. Most importantly, they have agreed to provide me with a weekly fix of Darby pics so I can still watch him grow and live his new, wonderful, life.
I love you little man. I may not have kept all my promises, but I kept the one that counted the most. You have yourself a hell of a life my boy, I’ll miss you!