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Our dog Rigby
It was Christmas Eve, 2019. Mark and I were finally starting to wind down- both of us were off work and ready to spend the holiday at home, with our little family. We didn't have a big Christmas tree, just a little potted one that we put on our dining room table. Pokey was still a puppy and we were also watching two of our previous fosters over the holiday break and so we thought it would be best to have something simple and out of the way of curious, teething adolescent dogs.
It had been a busy week for us, we had done our last holiday show for my little business: scArfs for Rigby. Every show was a success, we had raised money for our dog rescue partner Free State Four Paws. Now at home, there was an array of mannequins, totes, and yarn strewn about the house, waiting to be put away for the season.
I was getting ready to watch a movie, a rare treat for me no matter the time of year. Going months without turning on the TV is not uncommon for us- Mark and I have always been busy people- working multiple jobs at once and using what little free time we had to fostering dogs. It was the only gift I wanted for Christmas, just a quiet evening with Mark, Rigby, Betsy, Pokey, Nikon, and Corriander. Then, Rigby threw up blood.
She had been having symptoms for a few days now- some lethargy and soft stool. She had just had her vaccinations the week before and so this wasn't completely out of character, at least for Rigby. The blood in the vomit was concerning though so Mark and I immediately decided it would be best to have her checked out. We quickly headed out and made our way to the only emergency animal hospital open at that hour, in our city, DoveLewis Pet Hospital.
The wait room was busy being one of very few hospitals in our state that are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays. DoveLewis would be the only landing spot for pet emergencies like the dog who got into Christmas chocolate or the rambunctious cat who was a little too daring with climbing the Christmas tree.
When we were finally seen, our vet went over the tests they would run on Rigby. It would all be pretty standard stuff and we had been through it before with her: first they would check for blockage in her digestive system. If there was no block, they would treat her with anti-nausea medication and fluids and send her home to rest. They took Rigby back into the hospital and we were sent back to the waiting room.
A little while had passed and a staff member called for us to wait in a waiting room where we would be updated by Rigby's doctor. Up until that point, I hadn't sensed that anything was wrong, at least not until the door opened and I saw the look on our doctor's face. My heart sank. I knew in that very second that something had happened.
Our doctor began updating us but I only recall bits and pieces because my heart started beating too fast and I was starting to panic. "Is she alive?" "I don't understand." "What happened?" I remember some words standing out more than others: CPR, white gums, heart stopped, epinephrine. "Would you like to see her?" she asked us. Without hesitation, Mark and I jumped out of our seats. We didn't care how bad things were or what kind of scene we were about to walk into and see, we without question wanted to be with our dog.
The walk back to the Intensive Care Unit was filled with hundreds of thoughts racing through my mind all at once. "She might not remember you," our doctor said softly, "I just want you to be prepared for that because we don't know if she has suffered brain damage." Then we were hit with a scene we could had never imagined. There was a team of staff members surrounding Rigby on the open floor, in the middle of the room. They were talking to her gently, saying her name. One staff member was pumping oxygen into her mouth, others connecting her to various machines. They were running tests on her to determine her current state. It was chaoitc but what stood out to us the most was all the blood. There was just so much of it. It couldn't have possibly all come from Rigby?
Mark and I called out to her as we got closer. "Rigby. Rigby." Then, to our complete surprise, Rigby immediately tried to look over in our direction and get up for us. We felt everyone in the room, ourselves included, let out a sigh of relief. This meant Rigby knew who we were. She remembered us. They gently restrained her as she was too weak to be standing up. "Mamma is right here Rigby, we are right here," I said to her softly as I kneeled on the floor next to her. Rigby didn't try to stand up again but she settled for tapping her tail against the floor. It's that famous tail tap that always makes us smile and even in that moment of shock, disbelief, and fear, I broke out in a smile as I watched my dog tell me she was "happy," to see us, tapping that tail of hers against the floor despite her body shutting down and beginning to fail her.
We watched as our dog Rigby, a dog who has never liked strangers being in close proximity to her, be completely calm and subdued as she was surrounded by strangers in the room who were trying to save her life. It was as if she knew they were going to help her and that she couldn't refuse that help. She was tired and weak but she was eerily peaceful too. Her body had just been through something traumatic and it was as if we were watching our dog surrender to every person in that room by saying, "okay, I understand. Thank you for helping me. Thank you for saving my life."
We stalled as long as we could so we could be with Rigby, but we also knew we couldn't be there for much longer. The staff was preparing a blood transfusion and would need to move Rigby into a kennel so they could stabalize her. The vet would call us with updates. "No news is good news," we were told. I didn't want to leave. I knew we had to but I felt as though I needed to be right with her and by her side. We decided to head home for a few hours, check on our other dogs and come back first thing, the next morning. There were a lot of unknowns still. Was our dog Rigby going to live? Or would Christmas day be our last day together?
Rigby has always been different and her life story has always been special. Betsy, Rigby's mom, came from a California shelter. Nothing is known about her past. The only thing I did know is that I was interested in adopting her. I didn't know why it had to be Betsy. I saw her photo on Petfinder and just knew she was my dog. When I picked her up to foster her from a local rescue, they told me that I would need to take her to a vet for an ultrasound first thing. "We don't think she is pregnant but her teats are swollen so we just want to be sure," they said. An ultrasound later confirmed that Betsy was indeed pregnant. The rescue asked me what I wanted to do with this news and without hesitation, I told them I wanted to foster her and her puppies. She had already settled in and I just couldn't imagine her leaving.
"I'd say she isn't due for another few weeks," said the vet. This was good news as I needed the time to set up her whelping room. The rescue dropped off an XL crate. It wasn't the kind that just stands up, it was so big, it came with assembly instruction. When I woke up the next day, I had a feeling that I needed to set this crate up as soon as possible. I was worried we had days, not weeks, before the puppies arrived. I got to work on setting it up, really a job for two people which was making it all the more challenging for me. I made sure to check on Betsy periodically as she seemed to be running warm and kept asking to go outside in the backyard.
When I was finally done, I walked out into the living room and to my complete shock, Besty was on the couch and there was a dark colored mucus surrounding her. Next to her, a little sack containing a puppy. It was that moment that a switch went off, I knew I needed to act fast. I had never cared for newborns before, I didn't know anything about what estrus and labor were like for canines, aside from the information I had googled the day before. But it was as if a mom drive I never knew I had kicked in and I suddenly knew what I needed to do.
First, I washed my hands. Then, I carried the little sack into the room. Then, I went back and picked up Betsy. I didn't want to move her and I knew she was already working on delivering the next puppy but it was not safe for her to have them on the couch. I carried her back to the whelping room and gently set her down on the blankets. Then, I took a deep breath and I gently opened the sac. To my immediate relief, the little newborn puppy started to move around. I laid her gently in front of Betsy and Betsy's maternal instincts finally kicked in. She started grooming the little puppy and the little puppy quickly latched on for her first little meal.
It took a few hours but six more puppies followed, all healthy and all little girls. Throughout the first few days, I paid close attention to the puppies, observing their habits and behaviors. They couldn't see or hear yet but they could squim about. I noticed pretty quickly that the firstborn of the bunch was not only the biggest puppy of the 7 but also the pushiest one. She would bully the other puppies in order to latch, even pushing them out of the way completely. I decided to name that pushy little newborn, the one born on my living room couch, "Rigby."
Adopting one of the puppies was never part of the plan. I was simply going to take care of them until they were old enough to be adopted out and then I could officially adopt Betsy. But there was something special about Rigby and I was drawn to her in ways I have never really been able to explain. The other puppies were incredibly needy- they always wanted to be held or be snuggled up next to a sibling. Rigby was a bit of a loner- she slept alone and didn't like to be held too much. I worried about her and what that would mean for her future. Would her detachment hinder her from finding a compatible match? Would she be understood and loved, despite her introverted tendencies? For reasons I can not explain, I couldn't let Rigby go. I wanted to make sure she would always have a loving home, no matter what. So I adopted her too, along with her mom Betsy.
Cooper is a total catch! He is handsome, playful, loves to cuddle, loves his ball, is calm, quiet, smart, and affectionate!
"He is a dream dog for a first time dog owner and he'll make your jaw drop if you've had dogs before," says his rescue. "Cooper will be your best friend within the day and you'll feel so lucky."
Cooper is a catahoula, cattle dog, blue heeler mix between 3-4 years old and is house trained and gets along with other dogs.
Cooper is incredibly unique looking and has one brown eye and one blue eye.
Cooper is located in Austin, Texas. To learn more about Cooper, go here.
Cooper is one of many, many wonderful dogs who are patiently waiting for their forever home. He is thriving with his foster family! When you adopt a rescue dog, you save two dogs- the dog you are adopting and the dog that can take their place.
Please join us in our efforts to raise Cooper's visibility by sharing his story and help aid him along his search in finding his perfect, forever home!
Coffee Bag art by Mad's Studio. You can checkout more of her work by following her on instagram @mads
Chloe & Sebastian
Chloe (Female) and Sebastian (Male) are a bonded pair who must be adopted together! They are both 7 years old and are border collie and great pyranees mixes. Available for adoption in Austin, Texas.
Here is what their rescue, Final Frontier Rescue Project, writes about them: they are very sweet with people, a tiny bit timid at first but then climbing in your lap and giving so many kisses! They love to play together, sleep together, and cuddle together, and they also love being with their people. They are good on leash and ride well in the car, and both seem to be completley house trained. They do well with other friendly dogs, though Chloe is more playful with other dogs than Sebastian is. They will make a fun loving addition to the family!
Timmy is an adoptable dog located in Austin, Texas! Here is what his rescue, Final Frontier Rescue Project wrote about him:
Everyone who meets Timmy loves him, and he loves everyone he meets! Timmy is house trained and a very easy pet. If you have a fenced yard, he doesn't even need to go for walks. He is happy hanging out in the house and yard, and he is fine staying home alone while his people are at work and school.
Timmy loves going for rides and walks; he's pretty good on leash. He also seems to like water, typical for a Lab! He has lived with another small dog and did ok. For now, it may be best for him to be an only dog.
Timmy is enjoying his time in his foster home. He’d love to find a permanent place where he can live out his golden years lounging on the couch.
Adoption application: https://tinyurl.com/ffrp-adoptions
Foster application: https://tinyurl.com/ffrp-foster
If you'd like more information about Timmy or to view more adoptable dogs from this rescue, go here.
Cooper is a smart, people-friendly, curious guy. He needs a fenced yard and he would love to join his people on fun hikes and outings. He doesn’t mind being a homebody either.
He is a volunteer favorite. Cooper is an affectionate, fun, endearing older dog who would love to spend his senior years with a family of his own. If you're looking for a best friend to come with you and enjoy adventures, choose Cooper!
Cooper has an entire team of devoted volunteers, ready to help him find his perfect home, even if that perfect home ends up being located outside of Austin, Texas.
If you are interested in adopting Cooper, you can fill out an application with Final Frontier Project here.
Final Frontier Project is based out of Georgetown, Texas. To view all of their wonderful, adoptable dogs, go here.
Bear is a beautiful black lab. True to his retriever heritage, he is obsessed with balls. For his birthday one year, Bear was gifted 50 balls! Bear is also obsessed with water. Above, you can watch a video of him splashing around in a kiddie pool.
At only 3 years old, Bear has already filled the lives of his family with an incredible amount of joy. As these things often go, Bear was originally meant for someone else, Krystal's dad. "My mom got him for my dad but he bonded with me so much that he's been mine for most his life," says Kyrstal.
Bear and Krystal are best friends. So much so that Bear was the "ring BEARer" in Krystal's recent wedding. Krystal, her husband, and Bear live with her parents who run an Adult Care Home with 5 live-in residents who are absolutely smitten over having Bear around.
Did we mention that Bear is an excellent singer? Here is a video of him singing along to a piano song.
Bear is unequivocally one special guy and the impact he has had on everyone around him in his short three years of life is incredibly admirable. He is "anyone's dream dog," says Krystal.
A few months back, Krystal took Bear into the vet for a routine checkup. To everyone's disbelief, it was discovered that Bear had an enlarged heart. His condition rapidly declined as his chest swelled with fluid and bear struggled to breathe. After having the fluid around his heart drained, Bear was stable again but was officially diagnosed as having heart failure: Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia and Tricuspid Valve Stenosis, a genetic heart defect.
Bear is in critical need of heart surgery. Without it, he won't live much longer. With surgery, the prognosis is very positive.
We would like to help Bear's family raise the necessary funds for his live saving heart surgery which will take place next month (April). There are multiple ways you can help:
1. Buy coffee and select Bear's coffee label at checkout
2. Directly donate to Bear's GoFundMe by doing so here
3. Share Bear's story with your friends, family, and social circles in hopes that his story can reach as many people as possible and enough funds can be raised to support Bear's heart surgery and ongoing supportive care.
We will continue to update Bear's story.
In February of 2017, an 8 week old puppy came into the emergency room with burns covering much of her tiny, fragile body. She had been a victim of a house fire.
Euthanasia was a strong consideration. It made the most sense after all, considering the unknown prognosis as to whether or not this little puppy had any chance of surviving. And if she did survive, then what? What would life look like for her? Would her injuries hinder her ability to live a quality life? These were all tough questions to ask, but they had to be considered.
Not a lot was certain in those first few days. Her journey back to stable health would at best, be a long and difficult one.
And then there was the question of the financials. Emergency treatment and around-the-clock care would quickly add up a long lists of costs. Who would pay for all of it?
In that moment of uncertainty, a group of people stepped up and made one thing very clear: they would not give up on this little puppy without a fight. Asheville Humane Society assumed responsibility, meaning they would offer full financial assistance, and a critical care team was assigned at the emergency animal hospital that the little puppy was brought into, following the fire.
BB was well loved, right away.
At an age where a puppy should be exploring the world around them with four paws to the ground, following new smells, eating things they shouldn't, discovering new toys and making new friends, BB was in the ICU, receiving extensive treatments that required daily sedation in order for her bandages to be switched out. This was all in an effort to mitigate the risk of infection and promote the healing of damaged soft tissues.
But despite the intensity of her treatments, BB never missed an opportunity to serenade the staff with puppy kisses. As she would come out of sedation, she would immediately wiggle her way out of her bed and make her way over to the attending staff, her little tail swaying back and forth.
Her wagging tail said it all: it was her small but powerful way of telling everyone around her that she wanted to live.
“Her pain and quality of life were assessed throughout each day. In the moments when her medical team struggled to decide what was best, BB would reveal a tenacity and zest for life almost larger than her little bandaged body and wagging tail could contain,” says Jodi, one of the veterinary technicians assigned to BB's critical care team.
Jodi became especially close to BB. “I did not know how long her time on this earth would be but it was my goal to make sure she knew she was loved for however long she was with me,” says Jodi, who would take BB home with her on the weekends so she could continue thorough and around-the-clock care.
Jodi, like many of us animal lovers, can't think back to a time where life wasn't surrounded by animals in some form or another. But more than growing up with the family dogs, Jodi made a career out of working with animals, everything from working with birds of prey at nature centers to working with horses. Jodi now teaches Veterinary Medical Technology at a Vet Tech school and continues to work at the hospital that assisted efforts with saving BB's life.
It should come at little to no surprise that BB became a fast foster fail. At the point that BB took a turn in her recovery for the better, a time came when BB went home with Jodi and stayed for good.
Despite a brighter looking future, there was still uncharted territory that needed to be navigated. The thermal burns had left BB with large areas of bare skin that were extremely sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, rain, wind, direct sunlight, and touch.
As time went on, Jodi came to understand when BB was asking to wear clothing or be wrapped in a blanket in order to warm up. Though it was understood that BB would always have large areas of bare, sensitive skin that would be unable to generate hair growth, BB learned to communicate with Jodi when she was cold and needed an extra layer of protection.
When the first winter came, BB would not go outside. So Jodi secured her a doggy snowsuit that would offer full protection from the elements. This allowed BB to play in the snow for hours and take winter hikes with Jodi and her husband.
"I try to think back to life before it included this tenacious little piglet and it is honestly hard to remember. She lives by my side, if not touching me. When we walk she often boops my calf with her nose or leans against my leg while walking just to make sure we are close enough. She is my sidekick, my partner in crime, my copilot, my adventure buddy. I am grateful for her big heart and even bigger personality every single day. She is so goofy, loving, resilient, and snuggly," says Jodi.
And if this story so far wasn't enough to provoke tears in your eyes, there is more...
Just a few months before little BB was admitted into the hospital, another puppy who was also a burn victim was being cared for by the very same critical care team that looked over BB. This puppy, Aya, had a similar prognosis with an equally challenging road to recovery but was able to overcome it.
Once BB was healthy enough, her and Aya got to meet in person. What was supposed to be a quick, introductory walk turned into Aya and BB rolling around on the ground, playing, and chewing sticks together. They became fast friends and have been best friends ever since!
BB's instagram is not only a place for her to show off the latest trends in dog onsies, straight of the fashion runway, but to also advocate joy to others, encourage others to embrace their uniqueness and to help dismantle misconceptions about bully breeds.
"BB never lets her bravery scars hold her back and we hope she can empower others to do the same. We believe different is beautiful and that everyone deserves the chance to live their best lives," says Jodi.
You can follow both BB and Aya on Instagram. Huge thanks to Jodi for taking the time to share BB's incredible story with us. 25% of all bags sold featuring BB's story will be donated to Asheville Humane Society, the rescue that assumed responsibility for BB at the time she was surrendered to the hospital, allowing her the financial security she needed in order to heal.
All photos are courtesy of Jodi and are copyright protected.