I said I wasn’t going to do it again. I wasn’t going to set myself up for heartbreak and regret, but I did and Iris lies curled up on the bed I’ve made for her, trusting me, needing me to do what is best for her, so I will try.
One of three little sisters tossed out to fend for themselves, beautiful lab/spaniel mixes, one black and the other two brown and gold, and Iris has green eyes that follow me, waiting to see what I’m going to do. She’s not sure of me, not yet convinced my hands won’t bring pain to her poor neglected body and at the same time she’s terrified I will leave her. It takes time so I am patient, and my hands are gentle.
She can’t understand what’s happening, doesn’t know that I am trying to help her, and she misses the warmth and comfort of her sisters’ bodies against her and she softly cries for them. She doesn’t know that one of her sisters has already died of parvo and that she and her other sister, Lilly, who is with another foster, may find themselves in the grip of this terrible sickness as well. They’ve been to the vet, have all the medications and we are prepared because there is no cure for parvo, just treatment of the symptoms and the vet says it’s 50/50 now, so we wait to see what happens. In the meantime, with good food, medicines and vitamins, we will fight this as hard as we can. I’m trying not to love her, I’m afraid of the loss of her, but already I feel the attachment that binds me, I love her already. There is the price of inevitably losing her one way or another that will be paid, either to sickness or to her forever home, but I will gladly give her up to someone else if she will just hold on to life.
How can you not love and feel compassion for the helpless, the discarded and abused, whether human or animal? It’s beyond what I can comprehend and its enormity in this world staggers me. I pray that my heart never hardens so much that I turn away or that I don’t support the efforts of those who help the innocent and invisible in our world. We must ease suffering where we find it, we must respond to the ones put in our path and in our hearts.
I will do everything I can for Iris, we will take walks in the sunshine and she’ll rest on her bed and I will believe that she will live a long happy life and will find her forever family. If, however, in spite of the medicines and care, the worst happens, then with sorrow, I will pay that price instead, a price rescuers know all too well. I will hold her on my lap and craddle her head as she slips from this world to the next and I will tell her to go, that Daisy is waiting for her and to watch for me because one day I will find her again and we’ll live together forever.
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UPDATE 2020: Sweet Iris never developed Parvo and grew into a big and beautiful girl. She did have some medical problems and we could not let her go, so we adopted her ourselves and renamed her Chloe. We had 8 years with Chloe, but sadly we lost her 2019 to a neurological disorder, probably originally brought on by her exposure to Parvo as a puppy. She died peacefully with us by her side. I told her Daisy, Dutch and Diamond were waiting for her. I told her to watch for me. We miss her.