Love and CommitmentPosted by Nicole Pallotta, ALDF's Animal Law Program Student Liaison on June 18th, 2008
months ago, my rescued German shepherd, Alec, suddenly suffered a
severe herniated disc that left him paralyzed. Two surgeries and
thousands of dollars later, he is still unable to walk. However, he
uses a doggie wheelchair and we do physical therapy everyday. He has
made so many improvements since the first darks days following those
emergency surgeries. I am amazed by him and will give him every chance
to recover. In the meantime he is in no discomfort and is enjoying life
despite his new limitations. I have blogged about our experiences and the following is a recent entry from my blog:
I love this dog so much.
It’s crazy to me to think that many people would have euthanized him either before surgery or after, when he could neither walk nor go to the bathroom on his own. Basically when he was at his lowest, and I was at my most frightened, wondering: how can I possibly manage his condition all by myself? Yet, I never considered not trying. That thought only would have crossed my mind if he were suffering, which he was not, despite his new limitations. There were countless challenges with taking care of him in those early days and weeks - sometimes when I think about it now it seems like a dream - and I'm not sure how I did it.
But it’s amazing to me how far he has come in just over three months. I know he will walk again someday. I will never give up on him! And even if he never walks again, so be it. He is not in pain and remains the same happy, playful, goofy, sweet Ali he always was.
Sure, there are things he can’t do anymore, but that’s true of people who are disabled too. And while dogs are not able to conceptualize or think about their disability the way people can, this actually seems to serve them quite well in terms of adjustment; dogs don’t dwell on their disability in the least. It’s the human caretakers who are most inconvenienced, of course: financially, physically, emotionally, socially…there are many lifestyle sacrifices that come along with taking care of a disabled dog. As far as I’m concerned this is what we all sign up for when we invite a helpless being into our lives with the tacit promise to take care of them (not to degrade Ali and his brethren by calling them helpless, but dogs have been [over]bred to be utterly dependent on humans and, in our anthropocentric society, they are, indeed, "helpless").
At the risk of sounding self-congratulatory, I really wish other people valued their companion animals half as much. Yes, I have worked in animal shelters and have seen firsthand just how easily people discard their pets. Even with the magnitude of his injury and the massive cost of treatment, it never crossed my mind not to do everything I could for Ali. So, I have to go into debt. People are in debt for way worse and far more frivolous reasons than saving a life or helping out a friend in need – regardless of species. It just kills me to think of the comment one of Courtney’s friends made when she told him what was going on when Ali was still in the hospital: "a bullet would be cheaper." All I can say is, I’m glad I don’t know that guy. Okay, end of random rumination. I have to go hug my amazing dog now.
To read more about Alec’s story, go to http://www.alec-story.blogspot.com.