Marcy is a school counselor at an alternative school in Illinois and a part-time bartender who loves writing in her spare time.
Welcome to the World, Bruiser
Our daughter, Andy, is a veterinary technician at an animal emergency clinic, and I am confident she has found her calling in life. I must mention here before this story continues that she has a heart of gold -- solid gold. So, when a former classmate from college posted pictures of 12 Pit Bull puppies that needed homes, Andy didn't hesitate to step up, even though these puppies were only two days old.
Mama dog was rescued from a desperate situation. She was in labor and chained to a post in an abandoned yard. I never did understand why or how anyone could do such horrific harm to a living creature, but thank goodness she was rescued and spent the last few hours of her life with loving people who cared for her and eased her pain. Mama dog was emaciated and in feeble health, and when they put her to sleep to perform the c-section, she closed her eyes for the last time. Her suffering was over.
However, now there were 12 healthy puppies that needed raising. My daughter, with her heart of gold, picked her baby out from a picture. After seeing the picture, I know why my daughter picked him. He has his head poked up to the world as if to say, "Look at me! I'm a fighter." And he is.
My daughter needed her new little companion picked up from her friend's house early one morning. This situation was a problem because Andy worked nights. She had just worked a 14-hour shift and couldn't get to the pick-up spot in time. To help her out, my husband and I offered to get the pup and meet her back at our house when she got home from work.
Looking back, I was more than a little naive about the whole situation because I thought we would just pick him up and give him to my daughter, and that was it. No, silly me. When we arrived at the house, my daughter's friend, Megan, took us in for our briefing. When she started talking about bottle-feeding him every 2 hours and stimulating him so he could excrete urine and feces, I was like, holy crap. Then I'm thinking, Does Andy know all this? Of course, she's a vet tech. But I was overwhelmed with the heating pad temperature and talk of possible aspiration when feeding him. When Megan pulled the little creature out of the carrier, he was the tiniest thing I had ever seen. He was squirming and flailing his legs and starting to grunt and sniff, looking for the bottle. Megan wanted to show me how to feed him, but I was afraid to touch him. He seemed so fragile. Finally, I took him in my hand and put the bottle up to his nose. He immediately latched on, and I was relieved.
After the feeding and final instructions, Megan packed him back up in the heated carrier and loaded me down with supplies to last a couple of days. My husband and I got the little guy and all his luggage to the car, and my husband said, "You know this thing is gonna die, right?"
"Yea, probably," I confirmed. Still, we headed home to meet our daughter.
Over the next few weeks, my daughter endured the frequent feedings, complicated by her hectic work schedule. She packed her diaper bag every afternoon and headed out for work, taking Bruiser with her. Yes, she named him Bruiser. He was far from a bruiser if you ask me. But still, during the day, when she needed to sleep, she continued to provide all the care he needed until she was nearly worn down.
After thriving over the past couple of weeks, the little guy was all plumped up and not so fragile. So, when she asked us to keep him overnight to give her a reprieve, I agreed.
After receiving my orders, she was out the door, and I was left with this little life in my hands, literally. Everything went reasonably well until the bottle nipple got clogged, and I tried to clear it, making a bigger hole than needed. When the little guy would try to eat, the milk just squirted out all over him, and then he would cry, and cry some more because he wasn't getting fed.
I didn't panic at first. It was about midnight, and I woke my husband up and told him one of us had to go to Walmart and get a bottle. He gladly volunteered, knowing the person who didn't go had to stay home with a screaming pup. In his absence, I tried in vain to soothe Bruiser. We snuggled and sang lullabies. I tried using an eyedropper, with just mild success. I was so relieved when I saw the truck lights pulling in the drive.
It was the sweetest thing when my husband came in. He had not taken much interest in Bruiser up to that point, but he had gone all out. He came in with a whole grocery bag full of bottles and nipple sizes and shapes. "I didn't know what size to get, and I was afraid he wouldn't take to them, so I just bought a bunch, hoping something would work." With a sigh of relief, Bruiser took to the first one, and the chaos ended. We got his little belly full, and he was back to sleep in the carrier -- for a couple of hours.
Bruiser Sees the World
In his third week, we were all very sure Bruiser was here to stay. That frail little hamster we picked up had defied the odds. Even Andy admitted she didn't think he had a chance at first. Yet, here he was about to reach another milestone -- opening his eyes.
Andy had been watching and hoping to see this event for a couple of days, knowing the time was near. It was another one of those times when Bruiser had to come to Grammy's house because his mommy was working three shifts in a row. I gladly accepted because the little guy had grown to be quite fun. He was waddling around, and I didn't have that looming feeling he was going to die on me before Andy got back.
Well, you guessed it. On his overnight stay to Grammy's, Bruiser opened his eyes to the world. Actually, at first, it was only one, but it was the cutest little blue eye. Now we had to let Mommy know, so I took pictures and video and sent them to her at work. She was so jealous, but also happy her little guy was growing and developing.
Opening his eyes was just one of many adventures and milestones Bruiser would achieve in the first years. He came to visit Grammy at work many times, winning over all of the students and teachers he met. He went to his Aunt Abby and Uncle Heath's farm and played with their dogs, Molly and Bo. And he continued to go to work with Andy at night.
As Bruiser got older, Andy started leaving him at home when she went to work, but being gone 16 hours was too long for Bruiser to hold his duty, so I would go over to her house and walk him. One time on our walk, he got into something that gave him an allergic reaction. By the time we got back to the house, his nose and mouth were swollen and pink. I dismissed it at first, but then it kept getting worse. I sent Andy a picture, and she asked me to hang around a little bit and watch him. So I did, and there was no change, and Andy told me to go ahead and go home.
The next day she told me some horrific news. By the time she got home from work, his whole face was swollen and red, and his eyes were so puffy they were mere slits. I felt so bad. She had just gotten home from work and turned around and made the hour drive back to have Bruiser treated. My caregiver status severely plummetted that day. This incident was the start of discovering the many health problems Bruiser would endure.
The Bionic Dog
In the course of the next few years, Bruiser gained a daddy and a canine sister. Justin came into their lives, and Bruiser immediately took to his affinity for dogs. When Justin and Andy got married, it was official: for better or for worse. So, when Bruiser's arthritis got so bad he had to be carried down steps, his vet tech mommy took control. And at age 4, Bruiser had to have both hind-leg knee joints replaced.
This ordeal was life-altering for Andy and Justin. The care Bruiser needed and the therapy afterward was overwhelming, but they did it. Today, Bruiser runs down steps and can jump up and stand on his hind legs, both things he could never do before. A lot of people would not have spent the money or taken the time to improve a dog's quality of life the way they did. It was a financial issue and a huge commitment of their time, but this is Andy's baby, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
Just One Act of Kindness
The story of Bruiser is an example of how just one act of kindness can make all the difference. When Megan posted the puppies on Facebook, Andy instantly felt a calling to help. She is not sure what happened to the other siblings, but she has made a difference with one of the orphaned pups.
Who knows what would have happened to Bruiser if Andy had not adopted him. I shudder to think of the circumstances his poor dog-mom endured. All I know is he is living his best life. He has grown to be a handsome guy, for sure. He is sweet and affectionate, and of course, he is quite partial to his mommy. They have an incredible connection, and I believe Bruiser senses, somehow, that she saved him. Theirs is a rare bond, and it warms my heart to know that Andy raised that scrawny pup we picked up that day to be this incredible companion. In just one act of kindness, they each gained immense joy, and I know their lives have both been enriched by the experience. Bruiser is not just any dog. He is a real miracle and blessing all rolled into one.
© 2020 Marcy Bialeschki