A few months ago, none of us knew that Ema existed. She was a small, frail dog, living her life largely ignored, locked in a bathroom for most of the day and night. A few months ago, that is where Ema likely would have died – alone, un known, un loved, perhaps un mourned. She would have lived, and died, in obscurity – as so many of the French Bulldogs out there in the world today will.
We changed that, for Ema. She was my dog, and Eva’s dog, for a short little while, but more than that – Ema was YOUR dog.
If you ever once read her story, and passed it on – Ema was yours.
If you ever donated a single dollar to her, to try to help – Ema was yours.
If you ever found yourself wondering how Ema was – Ema was yours.
For everyone who read about Ema, and saw their own dog in her eyes – Ema was yours.
For a short time, Ema built us into a community. From a dog that no one knew, to a dog that had more friends on Facebook than I do – Ema was yours.
I like to think of the worlds that might have been, that might still be, someplace. I think that there is a world where Ema woke up from her surgery, her heart strong and vital. In that world, Ema is running with Jake, chasing leaves, jumping on and off of the furniture.
In another world, Ema is teasing Carmen with her frisbee, inviting her to ‘chase me!’.
In another world, Ema is tucked in a carrier underneath Eva’s seat, on her way to spend the winter in Spain.
In another world, Ema is at home with one of the people who read about her story, someone who thought “Ema should come live with me”.
In all of those worlds, Ema is happy, and she is loved.
What we did for Ema, by trying to save her, was give her the chance to have those other worlds. The money we raised, the money we spent – it is the only thing that saved her from being what she was, a small dog, alone, dying alone. We gave her the chance at those other worlds, just as she gave us the chance to imagine those other worlds.
To everyone who cared for Ema, and to everyone who loved her without even having met her, I say thank you. I held her, for all of you, and I am held now, by knowing that I don’t mourn for her alone.
I’d like to say a special thanks to Ema’s Veterinarians. Each of them did their very best to give Ema the chance for a longer, healthier life:
Dr. Boyle, Grey Bruce Pet Hospital
Dr. Minors and her Technicians, Mississauga Oakville Referral Clinic
Dr. O’Grady, Dr. Schuckman and the members of the Balloon Procedure Team, Ontario Veterinary College Teaching Hospital, University of Guelph
Dr. Brisson and the members of her Cardiac Surgical Team, Ontario Veterinary College Teaching Hospital, University of Guelph
I am sorry to have to announce that, last night, CJ lost his brave fight. The infection in his abdomen was more widespread than the veterinarians had initially thought, and CJ was suffering.
Karen, his dedicated foster mother, was with him when he left the world. I’m comforted to know that, at the very end of his life, CJ knew the love that he was denied for so much of the rest of it. CJ was Karen’s first foster dog, and the difference she made in his life is immense, as is the hole that he has left in hers. If you think of it, please write her a note of condolence.
Our grateful thanks to everyone who donated towards CJ’s care since we reached out to you yesterday. Your donations will help to pay for the vet bills CJ accrued while his home veterinary team and the vets at Guelph searched for a way to save his life.
Like everyone else who was touched by CJ, it is tempting to meditate on the cruelty that was done to him. We lost volunteers over CJ’s story, good people who are just too burned out on the seemingly non stop stories of sadness and misery and plain, banal evil that rescue work seems to expose us to every day. Instead, I’m going to choose to think of the people who reached out to him, and offered to help. You’re what matters, now more than ever.
It’s trite to say, but sometimes, we really do need to light a candle and stand together against the dark. That’s CJ’s miracle, when you think about it.
The weak can never forgive.
Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Designed by metalsmith Christen Largent, the front says “Tessa, beloved now and forever”, with her birthstone, a Citrine. The reverse has her dates.
It is on a hand hammered chain long enough to sit close to my heart, which is where I carry her.
Ryder was litter brother to Tessa and Hammer, via a repeat breeding. He was also full litter brother to Andrea’s Gunny, and to our little Teardrop.
Ryder is much missed by both Dick and Nancie, although they now have Alvin (now known as Baxter, or Mr. B) to console them, along with their lovely little girl. Ryder, however, was like Tessa, Gunny and Hammer – you can get another dog, but you can never, ever replace them.
I suppose that’s true of all good dogs though, isn’t it?
Photos on Flickr, or after the cut.