A promise to keep.
One slight step, a pivot with purpose and the deed is done. Someone walks away and you are left behind. All the usual suspects show up for the farewell. Confusion, betrayal and sadness but most heartbreaking is the hope that lingers, following you everywhere, that tiny slice of optimism that the ones who left you will come back.
For several years friends of mine owned and operated a beautiful Inn with a glorious rolling view in a remote part of Ohio and one day a dog appeared at the end of their long driveway. Dumped, he was left behind. For days the dog sat at the end of that gravel drive, waiting. My friends brought him food and water, but ultimately they let him make the decision when he was ready. The day arrived and he trotted down the long drive to the back door of the dinning house and from that moment on he became part of their family and an instrumental part of the Inn, especially for the dog lovers who would visit, myself included. “Red Dog” turned out to be an incredibly special gift to all who were fortunate enough to meet him. I read about it too often, dogs that are part of a family, have a home then for whatever reason they are no longer wanted, so like overflowing trash these dogs are taken out and discarded. The betrayal and cruelty of that act baffles me, and I lose faith in humanity for just a few ticks of the clock until I remind myself there is more good than bad in the world, though at times it seems very hard to believe.
I tell you this because as I was preparing to take Tristan to the vet, I am reminded I do everything possible to make sure he can’t get away from me away at any cost! It’s almost ridiculously funny the lengths I go to until you realize that his fear would take over and he would run and have no regard for traffic, cars or anything else that might hurt him. Tristan getting away is my biggest fear when he leaves the house, of course the fact that it’s very hard for him does not help the situation. So this was our routine and experience taking Tristan to the vet to see his beloved “Dr. O”, whose practice is an hour away, but the distance is not a factor as I would drive almost any distance because she was meant to be Tristan’s own personal guardian angel when it comes to vet care.
Of course Lora, tried and true amazing friend to both Tristan and I agreed to go with me yet again, arriving at the house late afternoon to start our adventure. Lora is so good with Tristan, and he adores her as there is no doubt they share a special connection, it’s that calm, gentle energy she has that is just what
Tristan Lori needs at times like this! I decided this time to try very hard to let my anxiety go, have faith and act like I would if I was taking Tully to the vet. Speaking of Tully of course he went with us, leading the way and showing his brother things were just fine. Here is the point that maybe is not so normal, when Tristan gets scared he tries to get himself into a corner or under something for protection, and I have seen him thrash wildly to get out of a harness and collar in 15 seconds flat, think wild stallion in the form of a dog. Tristan had on his collar, then I added a second collar, with leashes attached to both of them and then put on a slip collar, just in case. Poor guy looked like he was at some kind of doggie Mardi Gras! The trifecta of containment, or so I hoped. I backed the car into my garage, lifted the back hatch to reveal the plastic laid out and tucked into the corners of the space just in case he loses control of his bowels or bladder. I tossed two toys, Mr. Skunk and Nurse Herta Less into the back, also a blanket over the plastic, just to make it a bit more comfortable.
The walk from the house out the back door and through the backyard went very well, better than any other trip, no belly crawling at all. Tristan walked the whole way until he had to go through the threshold of the door leading to the garage. He managed to get through but then the poor guy just couldn’t go any further, he belly crawled the rest of the way. I managed to pick him up, (all 68.7lbs of him) it was a struggle and that triggered the fear and the sweet boy lost control of his bowels. This was not my first rodeo so even with my wonky knee I was able to dodge the shooting pooh and avoid the need for a change of clothes. Once safely inside the car, Tristan did great, he almost looked excited to be going!
The ride up to Trenton was easy and my concerns of running into Friday afternoon traffic turned out to be non-existent for the most part. Once we were off the interstate, heading down the small town roads, we can to a stoplight. I glanced back and what I saw took my breath away, Tristan was standing up in the back looking out the window, and behind him was a woman smiling at him and waving, as Tristan’s tail was wagging taking it all in, a true moment marked by just how far he has come. (Yes, I cried.)
There is a routine when we go to see Dr. O, I back up against the rear door of the office, close as I can and Tully goes first and with the help of the staff, I again lift Tristan out and once down on solid ground he bolts to follow Tully. This time once he was in, he walked to the scale and stepped right up and lied down like it was not big thing!Turns out he had lost 2lbs, for a total weight of 68.7 lbs, I have to say when I pick him up I could swear it’s a lot more. (Yes rude, I know!)
We are so incredibly blessed to have Dr. O as Tristan’s veterinarian, she is amazing in every single way. It’s not only that she is a great vet, she understands Tristan’s situation, his past and just how hard it all is for him, and her compassion and kindness becomes priceless for us. He loves her and showered Dr. O with not just one but TWO smooches this visit. God knows she earns them and then some, as she has to crawl around on the floor with him, but she always takes time to just sit near him for awhile and just chat with us as Tully acts like he has not seen another human in years. You would think that dog had not been petted in months, needless to say he was all about giving out the kisses to Dr. O!
I made a promise to Tristan the night I brought him home from the shelter, as I watched him completely shut down and hopeless, unable to even look up at me he was so terrified. I promised him that night I would never let anyone be around him that could not be gentle or show kindness and love to him. I am so very grateful to Dr. O for helping me keep that promise to him. She is amazing and kind through and through and such a talented veterinarian, there is no one I trust more.
We loaded everyone back into the car and set off for the return trip, and I have to say there is no doubt in my mind that Tristan knew exactly where we were headed!