by Pat Closher
Today we rescued your dog. We don’t know where you got him from - maybe you saw him in a pet store window or maybe one of your neighbors bred a few litters a year just to make some vacation money or because they loved their dogs so much that of course they wanted to have puppies. We don’t know much about how you cared for him either, although our vet thought that for such a young dog, his teeth were in pretty bad shape.
One day, we saw him on the shelter web site. We called and asked about him. The shelter workers were so happy to hear from us and were delighted to agree to bring him to a local pet store where they do adoptions. Do you want to know why they were so accommodating? He was scheduled to be killed that afternoon. He didn’t know that, but the shelter workers certainly did. It hurt them and he felt that, so he knew something was wrong. All of a sudden, though, the shelter workers were happy and excited and so was he. They bathed him and brushed his coat. We think they probably told him this was it - his big chance, or maybe he just knew it somehow. When we met him, we all fell in love.
He had to go to the vet to be neutered, of course, but then he came home. He has his very own 13 year-old boy. You know, it’s almost like watching one of those old Lassie movies, seeing how well they’ve bonded. He’s got good food and his own toys. He’s taken on walks three times a day, is regularly groomed and is taken to the vet for needed care. We’ll be with him always, even if we have to make that last, difficult decision, because, you see, he is our dog and we are his family.
He has a good heart you know, but then he is a dog, so that’s to be expected. He’s probably forgiven you and, with a dog’s grace, doesn’t even remember you dumped him. He’d probably even be willing to greet you at the Rainbow Bridge. But you know what? He’ll greet us and go with us at the Bridge, and then he’ll be with us forever, because he’s our dog and we’re his family.
"In Memory of Miss Olivia"
I had no intention of caring for two boxers at once. After Cassius passed away suddenly, peacefully, several years ago, and after his brother/best friend Cato the cat followed him over the Rainbow Bridge five months later, I was told (by the receptionist at the vet clinic where I brought Cato's body for pick-up and cremation) about a five-week-old male boxer in the neighborhood who was going to be advertised, along with his four sisters, any day.
I made an appointment with his human mom to visit that evening, and a few days later I drove him home -- curled up on my shoulder and neck. His name metamorphosed from Doug to Lucius -- in keeping with Cassius' and Cato's Romanesque/Shakespearean monikers.
Lucius and I were a happy pair. We had no need to be a threesome. But one day in March 2003, on an inexplicable, even unwanted urge, I applied to LSBR to be an adoptive or foster mom to a rescue boxer. A voice deep inside told me it was the right thing to do -- and the right time to do it.
That very day, unbeknownst to me, LSBR's Mona got a call about an older female brindle boxer, Maggie, who had been left behind by her family on a porch in San Leon, near Galveston. Mona, bleeding-heart boxer rescuer that she is, drove down there at a moment's notice to pick up the boxer. After she got Maggie to Greenway, Mona called and told me all she knew -- which was little. Just that Maggie had a pronounced limp. And that her front half looked like she worked out in a weight room, while her back half was a bit shrunken.
After a thorough exam, a heartworm shot and an overnight stay at the vet, Maggie was ready to be picked up. She came barreling out of a back room, looked at me with one gold eye and one brown eye, and smiled (actually, she was panting, but it looked like a smile). She reminded me of a wheelchair marathoner, with a massive upper body (front legs and chest) and a lower body (hips and back legs) that she dragged around behind her. After having a long drink, she hopped into the car, settled in what would become her favorite spot (the floor behind the driver's seat), and off we went to her new home -- my porch.
Since I wasn't sure if she would be aggressive with laid-back Lucius, I kept them separated for the first day or two. Then I began walking them together, one on either side of me. She seemed okay in his presence. Next I graduated to letting them hang out off leash, with me between them, in case of trouble. There was none, so upstairs I went, leaving them together in the small kitchen on hot, cold days or rainy days, and in the large porch/garage area in mild weather.
Maggie being a common tag for girl dogs, I upgraded hers to the more elegant Olivia. She liked it, and responded readily.
Olivia -- Livie for short, or Miss Olivia -- had several peculiarities, which I adapted to without a murmur, out of compassion for her.
First and foremost, she loved to drink water, which meant that her liquid output was just as frequent as her intake. But she didn't know that! So, if I didn't want her to leak uncontrollably, I had to take her outside -- often. When I mistimed those trips to the grass, the little droplets built up in no time into bed-soaking puddles. As a result, I laundered urine-stained bedding and towels at least three times a week, sometimes more often. All without complaint. I never knew I had such forbearance.
Another oddity: Olivia had thicker, longer, finer hair than any boxer I have known. She was a non-stop shedder, both clumps and single strands, no matter how often I brushed her. So usually I didn't bother. I just let her be. And did my best to sweep up after her.
Olivia's other unusual trait was that she got hot very fast and panted even in moderate temperatures. That, combined with her limp and her refusal to stay home on the closed-in back porch alone (the abandonment syndrome), meant that Lucius and I took slow, usually short walks with her. In the winter, and on cool spring/summer/fall nights, Olivia mustered the strength to walk an hour or more, sometimes stopping to rest along the way. Also on cool days, she frolicked and ran -- actually, bounced along -- as if all four legs worked normally. "Bouncy bounce girl," I called her. The only other time she walked as if nothing were wrong with her back legs was whenever she saw a cat. Her total absorption transformed her little body into a perfectly functioning canine cat-catching machine. (Not that she ever meant harm, or even got close.)
On and off, especially on very hot days, I tied Olivia to a tree directly in front of the house. She loved to lie on the cool dirt beneath the boxwoods. When Lucius and I returned, Olivia barked her joy so loudly that I thought my eardrums would burst. For that matter, even if I went out of sight for only 15 seconds, her welcome-back bounces and high-decibel barks knew no limits.
When the townhouse association frowned on her front-yard presence, a dog-loving friend in the complex next door offered to let Olivia stay on her wide-open second-story carpeted front porch. We dubbed it Olivia's porch. (The porch-owner's dogs lived in her boyfriend's house next door, and they weren't allowed to go upstairs to the porch.) Olivia found a shady spot, lay down, and waited with her usual infinite patience for us. As long as she could see the street and sidewalk -- as long as a wall wasn't separating her from the outside world -- she knew I would come back. She knew there would be no repeat of her San Leon experience.
When friends and strangers greeted Olivia, she would stand stock still, hoping they would pat her head. When they did, she became their instant friend -- and wanted to visit them as often as possible. With dogs she was standoffish, even testy. There was only one dog other than Lucius who she felt at ease with instantly and never barked a stay-way warning at -- Rascal, a Golden with the temperament of an angel.
Miss Olivia and Mr. O'Lucius were comfortable companions. Though each of them clearly lived to be with me, in my absence they seemed glad to have someone with whom to wait. After separations, they greeted one another with kisses and sniffs. The only times Livie snapped at Lucius were when I didn't set down her food bowl first, or when he ventured over to her bowl before she was finished. Once in a while, if she was done first, she thought it perfectly fine to eat his food. He always backed off graciously.
Two years after Maggie Olivia moved in, she was ready to move on. Her week-long decline was fairly sudden and virtually pain-free until the last day. She enjoyed her last visit at the HPD barn, where she sniffed manure and startled nosey horses with her fierce bark. At home, she wolfed down scrambled eggs and chicken-flavored Ramen noodles and steak tidbits (leftovers from a neighbor). She devoured treats -- bones, baby Tootsie Rolls, animal crackers, and bites of all my food. She lay under her boxwoods and on her porch (the strength it took to climb those 20 or so steps was Herculean). She walked around the townhouse complex and drank at a couple of her favorite watering holes (there were about 10 faucets and hoses on her rounds that she knew by heart). She listened contentedly to the hymns and prayers that were etched in her heart.
Mona, Maggie's rescuer and Olivia's ever-friend, was her usual generous self that Sunday morning in early March 2005. She came right over and drove me and my girl to the emergency clinic on the Katy Freeway. An angelic veterinarian was working that day: Dr. Sarah Neaderhouser. She and her assistants couldn't have been kinder to me and Miss Olivia. Their hugs combined with her tears and gently reassuring words made us feel totally loved, and at peace. As Olivia's head lay on my legs, I sang hymns, stroked her forehead and cheek, and thanked her, through my tears, for her fine qualities, which will always remain alive in my mind and heart: her courage, confidence, and calmness; her joy, exuberance and vitality; her forgiveness, gentleness and sweetness. The list goes on. And so does Miss Olivia. Not only in memory here, but in actuality there. Her life could not possibly be lost. As one of her comforting hymns puts it, "O perfect Life, in Thy completeness held, none can beyond Thy omnipresence stray, safe in Thy Love, we live and sing alway: Alleluia! Alleluia!"
LSBR Archive - 2005
just wanted to let you know that my husband and I lost our Olivine (Bean) this week suddenly and unexpectedly. We adopted her from you 7 years ago (her name was Chena) and she has been a blessing to our family every day since then. She and her boxer brother Bowen (also an LSBR alum) were best friends and loved to run on our farm, jump in the pond and cuddle. She was simply the sweetest little girl we've ever met and was a huge part of our lives. Her joy and exuberance for life were contagious to all and, once the grief subsides, I'm hoping to remember the lessons she taught us: show others how happy you are to see them, revel in the small things, and don't take yourself too seriously - it's ok to be goofy! Thank you for bringing our family together. Allison Scribner
Dear LSBR Friends,
It has taken me a while to work up the courage to tell you that dear Oscar, who was rescued twice by LSBR (the second time thanks to quick-witted Alicia), passed away in early April.
We were walking on a cool afternoon, and we stopped behind a church to say our prayers and hug for about 15 minutes. (He sits in my lap whenever I get down to his level.) He was in great shape in every way. I guess he and God decided that after prayer-and-cuddle time, it was time to move on to the next stage of Life's grand adventures. After we got up to resume our walk, on the other side of the church property he keeled over and breathed his last.
I prayed again with him, knowing he could still hear me. Then I ran across the street to the dental office of a former neighbor of mine. This dentist had just finished working on his last patient for the day. He kindly put Oscar in the trunk of his Jeep and drove us the short distance to the vet, who the next day buried Oscar next to Lucius on his horse ranch.
Oscar, along with Lucius, Olivia (LSBR), Judge (LSBR 13-day foster who led me to Oscar) and Cassius (my first Boxer), will ALWAYS be in my heart. The photo of his pretty face, which LSBR snapped when he was first rescued, is now prominently displayed as the first one in my wallet.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing Oscar to me, LSBR volunteers one and all.
Oscar the Angel's mom Susan
We first met Ozzie at the Fritz kennel where he lived for a number of months before he became our first “foster failure” back in 2006. We sadly lost our “Oz Man” the beginning of March 2014 after a battle with cancer. Ozzie was at first famous for taking you for a walk but after a little patience, time and work became out best pup on a leash and even off leash! Oz taught us so much about dogs, rescue and life and will be so very missed. Always in our hearts big guy…. Your loving family Bobbie, Sonny and fur sisters Rainey & Maddie