How Much is a Life Worth?

I sometimes get discouraged about French Bulldog rescue.

I sometimes feel like all we’re doing is sticking our fingers in the dike, while the water pours over the wall in spite of us. I can’t look at a classified ad or open my email with seeing a French Bulldog for sale at auction, or abandoned, or one who has been through unspeakable cruelty. Sometimes, I feel like all I ever write about are dead dogs, dying dogs, dogs for whom we couldn’t do enough, in time, to save their lives. Sometimes I worry that writing about dead dogs is going to make everyone who reads this blog so depressed and discouraged that they’re just going to look at that wall of water, and say ‘let it pour, I’ve done all that I can do’.

Sometimes, I worry that I’ll walk away with them.

Every once in a while, though, we all do make a difference, even if it’s just for one single dog. Take Holmes, for example.

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In Memory of Dark Lola – Pinetree’s Absolut Lolita

Barb and I first met when she bought a little stripey brindle bitch from me named “Rosey”, aka Bullmarket A&A Stripe Ts. Rosey was Tessa’s half sister, and, just like her sister, was a complete and utter charmer with people (although not always with other dogs).

Rosey had a few litters, one of which was sired by Ch. Pinetree’s Baileys Kahlua and Cream. This litter produced a lovely little dark brindle bitch, call named Lola, registered name Pinetree’s Absolut Lolita. Lola lived with Barb, and I nicknamed her “Dark” Lola, to differentiate her from our ‘other’ Lola (who is perhaps better known as The Dread Pirate Lola, official mascot of Talk Like a Pirate Day).

Things can get confusing when you have a few dogs, and some of them share the same name, but I always felt slightly guilty about Lola’s nickname, because there was nothing at all dark about her, other than her coat. She had a sweet, sunny nature and loved everyone equally, whether people or dogs. Lola had a litter of her own, producing  Absolut Amron Vol De Nuit, better known as Connie Lovece’s GiGi.

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Mae has gone to the bridge

Ch Absolut Bullmarket Ezmerelda - Mae

Mae Mae

Ch Absolut Bullmarket Ezmerelda
July 25, 2001 – February 8, 2011

We knew Mae didn’t have a lot of time left. Her degenerative myelopathy had been accelerating in the last month or so, and her mobility was almost non existent. Just after Christmas, I wondered if we were actually there, but when I sat down next to Mae, she wrestled with me, nibbling on my finger tips and rolling over for a belly rub. You just don’t put down a dog who still has a wrestling match left in her.

This afternoon, I heard a God awful sound coming from the living room. Mae was having a seizure, and was obviously terrified. Even after it ended, she was shaky and frightened. I took her in to the vet immediately, and she seized twice in the car on the way there, once more on the table at the vet’s office.

There really wasn’t another choice to make, when death is so clearly a release from pain and fear.

I would like to believe that there is a bridge, and that Mae and all of my other dogs are there. Mae, like Tessa, will once more be running free and fast, only stopping to flop down on the ground for a nap and a head scratch.

I would like to believe that one day, we’ll get to see them all again, all of our old dogs, all the puppies we ever lose, all the rescues we’ve lost, all the animals who’ve touched our lives. If there is a heaven, and my animals aren’t waiting for me in it, then it’s not a place I could ever want to spend eternity in.

Ema was yours

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

Kirby's Fish

I think you have to have lived with a French  Bulldog to understand how truly, wonderfully weird they are (which I mean, of course, in the most affectionate of ways).

Cool Kirby, handsome French BulldogTake Beth Thornton’s Kirby, for example.

Most dogs, if they’re going to pick something to be crazy about, it’s going to be a ball. Maybe a sheep, if you’re talking about a Border Collie. Not Kirby, though.

Kirby was crazy about fish – and no, not fish as in “hey, let’s have salmon for dinner’, but in a more Jacques Cousteau, intellectual curoisity kind of way. Kirby, in fact, had his very own fishpond, which he’d visit to sit and watch the fish. In the winter time (when even the most intrepid marine biologist has seconds thoughts about outdoor marine observation), Kirby would make do with looking at the indoor aquarium.

What else did Kirby love?

He loved cheese puffs, and having his dad blow water at him out of the pool noodle (see, I told you Frenchies were weird). He loved naps, and warm spots,  and birthday cake.

On December 16th, Beth lost Kirby to a tragic and unforeseeable allergic reaction. Beth blames herself, but if Kirby could talk to her, he’d tell her that “hey, you were trying to help me – you were doing the mom thing, and looking out for me, just like you always did. No one could have known this would happen, so please feel better soon. BTW, the cheesy poofs in heaven? So. Totally. Rock. Also, fish ponds as far as the eye can see.”

Kirby's Jade GoldfishKirby’s ashes will rest in an urn, along with cards, mementos, and a small, perfect Jade goldfish that Beth chose for him.

Kirby was a deeply, wonderfully weird Frenchie, with many admirers and friends from around the world, all of whom miss him.

He was a little dog who loved many things, but most of all, what he loved was Beth. The feeling was mutual.

RB’s Curbing a Heartache
Tue Dec 16, 2008
Loved by Beth Thornton and Family, Champagne French Bulldogs