The call said she was a breeder-surrendered puppy with ectopic ureters. I knew what that meant: she leaked pee.
In the past, she was the kind of puppy that Jody would take up to her house – shielding us from possible heartache if the outlook looked uncertain or grim. But Jody is gone, and an eight-week-old pee girl needs to have her bottom kept clean and dry to stave off infection. I knew that. “Where else is she going to go?” I knew the answer. She had to come home with us.
We have fostered a lot of puppies. She was too small for her age. At eight weeks, she should have been pushing 15 pounds; she weighed in at only 11. She had a bacterial and yeast infection already.
I had a dream that first night. I dreamt that she died.
I reached out and touched the hand of time and knew it was not my friend. We waited for the ultrasound appointment but knew that surgery would be at least 4-5 months away – if the condition was repairable. If it wasn’t? I didn’t want to think that far ahead.
I cleared out the living room and dining room so she would be on washable stone floors. Every supply came out – and more. Mops, buckets, washable pee pads, towels, plastic covered beds, sheets, and gates everywhere. I set my office inside and left one covered couch so I could be close by. It was a small world for her, but a happy one. She ruled her domain, and the big dogs allowed it.
She earned many nicknames: Little Miss Puddles, Miss Pee-a-lot, Tinkle Bell, the Terror of Tinkle Town, and more.
She got her bum washed and dried at last four times a day. At night, we put a diaper on her for an hour – careful not to anger the infection we had beat back – and let her run through the rest of the house. She thought that was a magical time.
Our yard has an open pool, so we set up two enclosures for her in the shade. The big dogs joined her. She loved them.
As often as possible, I took her with me to play in the puppy yard at Homeward Bound. She made friends there.
Finally, ultrasound day arrived. We had been so anxiously awaiting it. The news was devastating and unexpected. Yes – she had an ectopic ureter. But she had only one partially functioning kidney and it was dying.
We had to make a quick decision. It was easy. We brought her home to love her. The weeks we thought we would have turned into only a couple of days – and then a rapid night of decline.
The next morning, we set her free.
Someone said she was just not meant to be – a puppy born with so many obstacles. I knew what they meant, but they were wrong. She was meant to be ours for four short weeks of laughter, joy, and tender puppy kisses. Mabel was meant to be loved.
She left an indelible mark on our chewed baseboards, window sills, table legs – and our broken hearts.
Fly free sweet girl. Fly free.