I was always told “You are not living until you have done something for someone who could never repay you.” At first that really did not make much sense, why couldn’t someone repay you? If not with money then with a task in return, it baffled me. That was until the day I met Aspen.
Aspen is a Weimaraner; gray as a mouse with the most piercing blue eyes you have ever seen. She has these lanky legs, ears nearly larger than her head, and is as klutzy as a newborn giraffe. Stubborn is not even close enough to explaining the hard headedness of this girl. I had no idea the world I was walking into that day, but despite it all, I learned something no one else on this planet has ever taught me, all thanks to this stubborn dog.
The first time I saw her she was confined in a small white kennel along a large wall of cages. She was tiny, almost too tiny for her assumed age, cuddled up on a torn blanket to get her off the grated floor of the cramped cage. The pet store was busy with people in awe of the adorable and rowdy puppies just behind the glass. But not Aspen. She lay quietly, a full bowl of food next to her and a pile of vomit next to that. When her lack of play and energy was seen most people grew bored of her and walked away, leaving her to sit and suffer in pain alone. I could see the sorrow behind those glacial eyes.
She was sick. A nasty little parasite that overran the puppy mill she came from was making its way through her intestines, eating them from the inside out. Not to mention her tail was docked at home with nothing but scissors and super glue, so she had ripped it open by chewing the nub off. She was so sick that the storeowner did not even want to waste the money to try to save her. He told a lady that questioned him about the sickly looking dog that “Some puppies aren’t born right, she was messed up from the start.”
He made it seem like he was doing this dog a favor by giving it a cage to sleep in. He just wanted to let her die. It was cheaper than calling a vet. Her eyes pleaded for help. You could see her fear and pain. Fueled by anger I bought her and spent three days fighting for her life with the best vets Pennsylvania had to offer. I was ready to fight for her; I could see that she was not ready to give up. She wanted to live.
Her first stop was the emergency vet. We sat there until well after two in the morning, scrounging up what money we could to make sure they would save her life. Poor girl could barely stand and spent every minute or so passing nothing but blood and some awful looking goop out of her system. They did all they could for her to get her stable. At seven in the morning I returned and drove her to my vet, about thirty minutes away. My vet met me outside and instantly began setting up this unnamed and dying pup on multiple apparatus. After closer and more thorough examinations, my vet determined that not only was a parasite eating its way through her intestines, but pneumonia also plagued this young girl, causing her to cough up blood. To top all that off, her open wound on her tail meant surgery to remove another vertebra to ease the pain.
I have to hand it to my vets; they worked tirelessly for three more days to save this dog’s life. Monitored her day in and day out for any change or break in her condition. There were moments when I feared I had walked into that store a moment too late: that I just wasn’t meant to save her.
Finally came that moment where what I was always told made perfect sense. I was sitting in a tiny exam room at the vet’s office. The tan colored walls mixed with the light tile floor. The sound of dogs barking for attention just outside the door was nonstop. The vet sat in a chair across from me, excited to explain the progress this still unnamed puppy had made and how she won her fight for her life. I was so absorbed in the chilling eyes of my new dog that I barely paid attention to the vet. We won; we actually won that fight. This tiny little ten pounds of ears and legs actually survived. The joy exploded through her vibrant eyes, that typical puppy energy was showing already.
She sat, wide-eyed, on the floor next to me. Her eyes were the same piercing blue, but this time they had a new, cheerful light to them as she nibbled on my fingers and slapped at my hand in play. She was happy, for the first time, you could see her joy. She gazed at me in awe, never once breaking from me. I was this stranger that brought her to get poked and prodded, yet she romped around and climbed on me as if I was the one that brought her into this world. We barely knew each other, but I had never been more in love.
The $2,500 vet bill never even made me blink after I locked eyes with her. I finally got it. I spent every dime I had on a dog that barely had a chance and I did it without hesitating. She could never get me that money back, she could never work it off; all she could do was stare at me with those bright, happy, arctic eyes and I never felt more alive.
Edited by Lara. K