Today I want to focus on an event that turned our family of 4 into a family of 5. (technically we already had a 5th member of our family. Our cat, Lil' Bit had been part of Paula's family since 1993. So this event turned our family to a total of 6. But then cat's don't consider their owner's "family" we're their "staff", right?)
It was January 27, 2004, exactly 10 years ago today. We had just come back from our first real family vacation together; a week long trip to Walt Disney World.
Even before our trip, James had been asking if we could get a dog. I had rejected the idea because I didn't want to have to take care of it. James insisted that he would care for the dog and Paula persuaded me that it would be a good idea.
On that Tuesday, Paula asked me to meet her at the local animal shelter to meet a perspective pet. That's where I met "Queenie" a stray that had been dropped off at the shelter. She was between 8 months and a year old.
She was such a sweet dog and already house broken (a key selling point for me). We really connected with her in the little "get acquainted" room. We decided to take her home and make her our own.
Here's a picture from the day we brought her home.
The first thing I did was change her name. Still under the spell of our time in "Mickey's World" I decided that "Dory" would a good name. I loved the Finding Nemo character and it had a phonetic sound similar to the dog's shelter name.
We spent the next decade with Dory as part of our family. It took a while for her to decide that she wanted to stay with us. But once we stopped her from getting out of the yard and wandering off she got very comfortable. This was her favorite place and position for most of her life.
The adoption of her "sister", Angel, a year after Dory came to live with us was a wonderful thing for Dory. She and Angel loved each other from the start and were constant companions from day one.
In the spring of 2013 Dory got sprayed by a skunk. It was an extremely traumatic event for her and for us. Shortly after that in early summer we found out that Dory had a tumor either on her kidney or her pituitary gland in her brain that cause her body to produce too much of a certain hormone. It was called "Cushing's disease."
The vet told us that the treatment for Dory's condition would be very expensive. $600 for the initial treatment and then monthly treatments at about $200. Even then there was no guarantee how effective they would be. Sadly we decided against the treatments because we couldn't afford them.
This picture was taken in April 2013. It's the last picture I took of a relatively healthy Dory Elizabeth Havens.
Her health went down hill quickly. She wouldn't eat, lost weight and muscle mass and strength. By the time July came around she was very thin and weak. She couldn't even get up and down the deck stairs by herself.
With a very heavy heart, on Friday July 19, 2014, we took Dory to see Dr. Thomas for the last time. She was miserable and we decided that she shouldn't suffer any longer. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life.
It's been 6 months since she's been gone. Although they are happening less often, there are still times when I miss that dog so much that my heart breaks and my eyes blur with tears.
But sharing my sadness is not the reason I am writing this post. It's to celebrate the day that one of the brightest stars to ever enlighten my universe came in to our lives.
Although it was about 6 months short of an actual 10 years, the decade that Dory was in my life and in the lives of my family will be always be counted as blessed days. I'm so glad that on that winter's day in January of 2004 we brought her home to be part of our family. She always will be, my Dory Girl.