I'M. SO. FAR. AWAY. FROM. THAT. FINISH. LINE.
And then, this afternoon, about 1:07pm, the phone rang and those thoughts went to the curbside. The words spoken by the vet made me want to crawl inside my desk and become invisible.
Adopting a puppy was not my first choice but the kids talked about it constantly. I took a leap of faith and secretly filled out the Lab Rescue application, one late December evening, when taking a break from wrapping presents. I remember how perfectly everything came together. We hadn't even been "in the system" for a month and our adoption coordinator called to say she had found not one, but two puppies, to choose from. They were brothers. Both Mom and Dad were Black Labs and the breeder had given the puppies to Lab Rescue. We were never were told "why" the puppies were given to Lab Rescue and I honestly do not think Lab Rescue knew "why" either. Nevertheless, we went into puppy mode and frantically ordered from Amazon prime, and the next day, we received a crate, dog bowls, dog toys, a collar, and a puppy training book.
On January 19th, we had an appointment to see the two puppies. One of the puppies, "Rudy," immediately took to the kids and chased them around the driveway. This was the same puppy who was healing from his hernia surgery. His brother stayed close to the Foster Mom. When we had to make a choice, it was a mutual decision. That afternoon, our lives changed, and we adopted "Rudy" (appropriately re-named "Shadow" by the kids) and instantly fell in love with him. He was a very special puppy. He was the twins "surprise" birthday present!
We noticed Shadow "snored" during the car ride home and thought it was cute. We didn't think much of it.
We continue to fall in love with him everyday. I love how he follows us around the house or lies at our feet when we sit down or lets us pick him up and carry him like a baby. He has become a permanent fixture in our bed. Shadow is one of the sweetest dogs that I've ever met.
At his first check up, our vet was concerned about possible hip dysplasia because Shadow had a tendency to hop like a bunny when running. He wanted us to follow up with an x-ray. Less than a week later, Shadow's snoring turned into wheezing. Off to the vet he went and he was prescribed antibiotics. Meanwhile, Shadow was driving us crazy with house training, for it was not going so well. He was also starting to nip more and would chase the kids around the house. The couches quickly became a "safe" base.
The course of antibiotics was completed but the wheezing only seemed to increase. We took him to the Lab Rescue vet earlier this week and there was concern. She ruled out an infection and believed the cause to be congenital. She also agreed with me that one eye was smaller than the other. The Rescue vet confirmed what our vet had said "usually when there is one congenital defect found, there will be others." I asked for my prayer warrior friends to please pray for our puppy and tried my best to not worry. Usually it all works out somehow, someway. Unfortunately, I am not certain this Lab Rescue story will have a happy ending.
It will be a month this Saturday that Shadow has been with our family and he has been such a blessing. Shadow makes us slow down and appreciate the love he freely gives, he lets me snuggle with him (unlike the kids), and most of all, he enjoys life, loves to play, and has never met a stranger! We don't even think he is aware that he is sick.
Today my fears were confirmed. Shadow was sedated and had x-rays done. The x-ray of his skull and mouth/throat are being read by a radiologist. The vet recommends that he be scoped. The biggest punch to the gut was delivered when the vet confided to me that Shadow's brother was also seen by her colleague. The vet confirmed that Shadow has the same eye defect and had been seen for a similar wheezing noise. Shadow's brother has already been scoped and it was confirmed that he has an underdeveloped trachea. The vet recommended to the family, that if they weren't attached, to give the puppy back to Lab Rescue.
It seems so cruel. Shadow is only three months old. I keep wondering "why" our family was placed in this emotional situation. I am sick to my stomach and my tears are endless. How are we supposed to say goodbye to this sweet, furry little guy, if it turns out he has the same diagnosis, as his brother??
It is such a difficult situation to be faced with, especially after having to make the decision to put your 14 year old yellow lab down less than a year ago. I'm not sure I can let go of Shadow that easily but is that fair to the kids? His quality of life is uncertain. His airway may be collapsing. His activity will be restricted. More than likely, he will need to go to the emergency vet, to get oxygen, probably when my husband is traveling and I'm home alone with three kids. Do we want to spend thousands of dollars on a surgery that "might" be able to fix the problem when we have three kids and paying for college tuition is on the horizon?
However, I have learned that no matter how difficult of a situation you are placed in, it is absolutely essential you do not lose H-O-P-E. This week, we will find out more information from the radiologist and hopefully, we will be able to make an appointment this week to get him scoped. I am a big believer in prayer and will continue to pray. I know I am not in control and have to believe there is a Higher Power who has a plan for Shadow and our family. I am amazed how much this sweet puppy has already transformed our lives.
*Lab Rescue has been wonderful during this whole process, authorizing medical treatment for Shadow and paying for it with their funds. I am continually impressed with this organization and how much compassion they have for the Lab's that they rescue. For 2013, our family joined Project 52: Focus on Kindness. One of our service projects is to collect items for Lab Rescue. We have a bin at the kids school and I have asked family, friends and neighbors, for donations. The organization is very appreciative of all donations and they especially need new leashes, collars, dog approved toys, and beds. Please let me know if you would like to donate any dog items to this wonderful organization or you may contact Lab Rescue directly! I am working with a Lab Rescue volunteer who is going to pick up the donated items from my house. Thank you for considering making a donation to Lab Rescue!