Now this is a very special story for me that I wanted to share for a couple of reasons. First is because it is from one of our very own readers and friends here and secondly, because I was actually “there” through the past few months when much of the most recent took place. This is a true story of a dog’s intuition and a real canine hero. The other day I asked S. if she would write her story for me to share because it is so touching and wonderful and enlightening and was very pleased when she did, so here it is… Enjoy!
Guardian Angels in Fur
This is a story about three labs. Buddy, a 6 year old yellow, Knight, a 5 year old black, and Max, a 14 month old chocolate.
Buddy has always had an aloof, laid back attitude. Bud was gotten when we had just previously lost our 13 year old black lab (our black labs are historically named Knight), and I was going through chemo treatments for breast cancer as my oncologist could not stand me and my crying over Knight, and proceeded to yell at me in a nice way to go out and get another dog, where I yelled back that it had to be a lab!
A co-worker of mine knew a gal in his puppy class whose cousin was a breeder of labs. (This was years before I knew of Rescue and got involved with Rescue). The gal called her cousin and told her of my situation, and awaited my call. I called a few days later and planned a visit out there. During our conversation, she had told me they just had a beautiful litter of yellows, and if I wanted I could come out and pick one; having the pick of the litter. I was so amazed that a person I did not even know could be that kind.
When I went out to the kennel, I met the owners, and immediately there was a connection of the love of animals. They took me to see the new litter, which was just two weeks old at the time, and the owners said I should get a laid back pup. I had my son and future daughter in law with me, and my future daughter in law picked out our Buddy. I went back when he was four weeks old, wearing my usual work attire, skirt and jacket, sitting on the floor and playing with little Bud. I wanted to bond with him, and spent quality time talking and playing with him. I brought little Bud home just before Easter of that year, walking into the house with him bundled up in a blanket, and walking into the kitchen where my husband was just finishing his dinner, saying “Happy Easter” putting this little bundle of yellow fur in his lap. My husband was like a little child, grinning from ear to ear, with tears in his eyes, telling me how beautiful he was.
Buddy was a wonderful companion when I was sick from the chemo. Even as a pup, he would run to the bathroom with me at night, sitting next to me, licking my arm or leg as to say “mommy it will be ok”, surprising me by running back to the bedroom to get me a bottle of water. I knew he was a little angel in fur.
Buddy was my partner through my first bout with breast cancer, and through my second. He was right there by my side. In the spring of 2004, my whole world came crashing down on me when they told me I had ovarian and uterine cancer (thank you breast cancer drugs). I was so depressed, again, my future daughter in law came to the rescue, and said “get another pup”. I had grown close to the breeders, and we had a great friendship; and when I called and told them of the newest problem, they said that a litter of black was due, and I could have whatever I wanted. As time went on, I never made it out to get pick of the litter, but they called and said that no one wanted the runt. I told them I would come out and meet him. Well, one look at him, and I was in total love. I brought Knight home three weeks later. Four weeks later I was scheduled for surgery.
When I got home from surgery, my husband was worried about the boys jumping on me. I had no fears, as I told him I would let them smell the bandages. I felt like the Pied Piper, with the boys following me everywhere. I am grateful that the chemo I had to take was only oral, and I did not suffer quite as much with side effects. Knight slept right next to me at night, spooned near my belly where they had done the surgery. My little guy….
Fast forward to the fall of 2007. I had been lucky the past three years. No major hurdles to deal with, until Thanksgiving. I am so glad I had not called my doctor prior to us going to the lake for the holiday. We had a wonderful mini vacation, and even tho it was bitter cold, I could not stop the boys from jumping into the lake and playing. Me being the ever so worried Mom, told the boys, “let’s go warm up by the fireplace”, and we would lay in front of the fire and warm up. Got back home, and the doctor called me, saying my “numbers were up”. I knew what that meant. More tests – let’s find the newest cancer. They suspected colon cancer, but it was ruled out. At the time, they could not find any tumors, but something was stirring. Going back to the doctor every 8 weeks for blood work, the boys could sense I was there, and knew when I took off my sweater and saw the band-aid from the blood draw. They would both lick my arm, to try and soothe me. Again, I was getting nervous, and my wonderful daughter in law, again, said “finish out the set”. I knew what that meant. Max arrives into our family.
It was interesting to see Buddy and Knight accept this little monster into the pack. Yes, they all played wonderfully together, Max learning the rules of the house with Bud and Knight keeping him in line. Everything was great; it was a trip to find room for the humans to sleep in our bed. Things were great until late August 2008.
Knight had been acting very over protective of me. When we were laying down together, he would place his paws over my belly. Silly me, I thought nothing of it at the time, but it got to the point where Knight would not allow Buddy or Max to come near me. There were actual fights, growling, nipping. At first I thought that Knight and Max were fighting for the Alpha position, and I was dealing with it working with each of them. Knight’s aggression towards both of them got worse, and he would stick to me like glue. After talking to some of my friends in the dog world, they all said the same thing – get your a** to the doctor. I started sleeping with Knight in the spare bedroom.
Got to the doctor that week, and my GP asked, “Why are you here?” My answer to him – “Because of my dogs. They are acting funny.” He knows I am into rescue and re-homing, and how close I am with my own three dogs. They took blood, and sent me for numerous tests, including an ultra sound of my abdomen. Four days later the results were in, and there was a large tumor on/in my gall bladder. My GP said to get to the surgeon ASAP, with my cancer history. Went to see a new surgeon who came highly recommended and he asked me how long I had been suffering with the gall bladder. I told him I hadn’t been suffering, that my dogs sent me to the doctor. I explained the story all over again, and being a new doctor of mine, he must have thought I was nuts. The surgery was scheduled for March 12, 2009. Knight had stayed ever so close to me the night before, and as I was getting ready to go to the hospital that morning, I told Knight that everything would be all right, and I would be home in a few hours, giving him a big hug and telling him he was my four legged angel.
When I got home that same day, none of the boys jumped on me or ran to me with the gusto they usually do. Again, I let them all smell the bandages, and each of them walked away with a sad look in their eyes. That evening, moving very slowly, Knight went with me to the spare bedroom, waited until I got comfy, then came and laid down next to me. He ever so gently laid his head on my stomach, letting out a big sigh of relief that Mommy was home, and everything would be all right. I told him how much I loved him and wondered where he got this special intuition.
I saw the surgeon ten days after the surgery, awaiting the pathology reports. It was a day for celebration, as the results turned out benign. During my visit with the surgeon, he had told me to get that angel of a dog a big steak, because that organ needed to come out. We got to talking about dogs, and had told the story of Knight to the OR staff, and one of the nurses had asked what kind of dogs I had. He had told her that my boys were labs, and she told the surgeon she was going to adopt a lab as soon as possible; all because of Knight.
I have learned from this experience that I should always trust my boys’ actions and reactions. So many people would have blown it off, thinking that it was just attitude problems. Not me – I am going to believe, believe that our four legged family members are our Guardian Angels in Fur.
We’ve all heard of service, therapy and companions dogs and dogs that have been trained to detect certain illnesses but there’s have been numerous stories about dogs that were not trained but just instinctively knew when there was something wrong about their owners. A dog’s senses are so acute that I will never understand how anyone could deny something like this ever happening.
When S. first emailed me a few months back and told me that Knight was acting funny, with her history of cancer, she asked my opinion, if I thought that he was “telling” her something, should she “listen” and go to a doctor. Most people would have brushed this off as a dog being a dog or just acting silly but she, who is very much a dog person and has been “cared” for by her boys in the past, took this seriously. Even though she wasn’t feeling poorly, she went to the doctor and thank God she did.
So for all you non-believers out there, there is so much evidence, beyond just this one personal experience, to back up a dog’s amazing intuition. And for those of you with a “just a dog” mentality, dogs are more than just pals and companions, they are also heroes and lifesavers!
Thanks you so much for sharing your wonderful story with us!!
PS. Didn’t mention her name because through our email back and forth, I forgot to ask if she wanted this to be anonymous or not… we’ll see if she comes forward to “claim” her story 😀