Personal Post

NURSE ZIGGY

ZIGGY

I'd been writing a blog, which took a significant amount of time on a daily basis to keep current. On the side bar, to help our local high kill animal control I inserted the Pet Harbor blog roll. I glanced at it every time it changed. I came to want a home for a small dog the

staff thought might be part Boston Terrier because of her severely undershot jaw and I've rescued many Bostons. It was close to Christmas 2011.

She was there for months. Hope dwindled for this homely little dog. By the time the staff gave

her to me, she had lost weight and so weak she could barely stand. She was dehydrated and couldn't eat. She is a Basenji, not a Boston. Her tail is broken in a couple of places, probably by the breeder.

With one injection from Dr. Bergloff, she came out of my van, up the back stairs and went directly to the food bowl. Eventually, she would return to health. However, we knew she had gone through kennel cough and had been inocculated for it at intake, but she was still carrying

it, and despite our dogs being up-to-date, the disease made its rounds and we lost two of our precious "children", just before Christmas to it, and our beloved cat, Vern had been hit with a car on our quiet street.

The shock of losing the three made me resent her for a few days and to tell you the truth, I wondered if that would come between us. I wasn't angry; just really. really heartbroken.

Because of her tail, she was named "Ziggy".

Ziggy couldn't help what happened. In a day or two, she was my dog as I taught her the fenceline and that there was nothing to fear. She took to Dottie immediately, our old tuxedo cat. And when two just weaned kittens came to stay in July, Sushi and Pearl, she immediately bonded

with them. She and Maya, a saintly, aging German Shepherd, got along splendidly and the others didn't care.

There are plenty of dog beds in the bedroom. Little Jack liked to sleep on my pillow and usually fell asleep with me playing with his ear, lying on his back. If that got too hot, he was at my feet so he could feel my toes. He has a bit of a fetish about that, so I wiggle my toes, and again, he falls asleep on his back.

Ziggy slept anyplace she liked, but wasn't happy with jumping up on the bed.

That is, until I was diagnosed with breast cancer just after my 70th birthday, 2013. I had forgone a trip to Montana because of my seriously aching back. I could have gone. But going to Montana and photographing its beauty entailed a bit of hiking. I didn't want to be a burden to my

friend and kept putting if off. Maybe a good thing. June was a surreal horror. A lump, a mammogram, an ultrasound and a surgeon's diagnosis. A visit to an oncologist. Cancer. I gave myself a week of 15 minute

sessions of weeping in the bathroom alone. But by the third day I'd had enough of tears and fears and since that's not how I handle a crisis, I decided to fight back.

Suddenly Ziggy had displaced Jack on my pillows, and she became my "hat" whenever I took to bed for hours at a time. All I had to do was reach up and she was there. Surgery, endless trips to town for doctors' appointments, biopsies, chemo, fatigue, radiation, long naps, she was

there constantly but for the 11 days complicated by a port infection when I was hospitalized. I still did most of my chores, including walking the dogs. I was bald and my skin was a funny color and the animals hated my one and only wig so much, I ditched it after a few minutes. But I wasn't going to be an invalid. I couldn't fail the

furry, feathered little people for whom I was responsible.

There was a time when I thought seriously about giving up and rehoming my birds; at best, they will outlive me by many decades. Then I decided that wasn't an option. I wasn't dead yet. The dogs? Never. I was going to outlive them, the youngest being Ziggy.

They weren't going anywhere, and neither was I. The cats? Never. My boys, Sushi and Pearl (I thought they were girls), had been in utero together - half brothers, different fathers. I was determined that they

would grow up and stay together. Best buds forever under my care.

And there she was as always. Ready for me to get into bed, dear Ziggy with her amazing marble eyes, waiting for me to settle down so she could snuggle above my head. Every day and night and in between, she has been

relentlessly faithful. On nights when I couldn't sleep, wondering if I would live through the weeks until summer and the Four O'clocks bloomed spreading their fragrance in the still night air, she was there, pushing me to deal with my illness. I had to complete the course. Despite a

vicious form of metastatic cancer, my age and treatment were in my favor. But my secret weapon was waiting at home, in the form of a butterscotch and white dog with a pitifully deformed mouth, the head cheerleader of my pack.

Maybe she remembers the day I brought her home, so sick and nearly dead. She would have gone up in smoke in a day or less. Maybe that's why she's still there at nap time or bed time, in her way, paying me back for giving her her chance. It has always been my pleasure to say

with experience, that rescue dogs "know". People who have rescues agree with me. Ziggy's the epitome of the Velcro dog. She's always in the same room with me, even though she chooses to be on a chair where she

can watch me. But at bedtime, she's always there on the pillows, waiting just for me.

I owe her.

Big time.

She has helped give me the gift of life.

4 responses

  • David de London

    David de London gave props (21 Oct 2014):

    Great story....thanks for sharing.

  • P L.

    P L. (Deleted) said (21 Oct 2014):

    I agree with David and you have my vote:~)

  • P L.

    P L. (Deleted) said (21 Oct 2014):

    I agree with David and you have my vote:~)

  • John Tanner

    John Tanner said (22 Oct 2014):

    Wonderful story May.
    Thanks to you one of the oldest breeds in the world gets a new life and the love all animals deserve.
    And for what it's worth I think Ziggy is beautiful both inside and out !!!
    A big YES !!!!!!

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