A few years back, in dead-of-winter February, I pondered getting another dog. I'd lost Razoo, my Siberian Husky, when he escaped his sitter's yard and was struck by a car while I was on a house-hunting trip in another state. Several months before that, I'd sadly said goodbye to Nanni, my rescued Husky-Malamute. He was a huge dog with so much hair that I'd originally named him "Annie". After I got him home and brushed him, I had to give him a less feminine name. Losing both so close together was a double whammy that left me vowing to put my pet-owning days behind forever. But after a year or two I'd begun to miss having at least one around. I've always loved big dogs.....the 60-85 pound variety, and I started browsing sites like petfinder.com. That was my downfall.
There's nothing like a photo of a wistful pooch without a home, and there he was....another ice-blue eyed Husky-Malamute mix, and a hard-to-place senior dog to boot. He was found wandering the woods of Frederick, Maryland, scrounging food in freezing weather. It's not unusual for Huskies or Malamutes to be lost. They are escape artists who love nothing better than to get out of the house or yard and just RUN. And when they finally stop, they're usually far from home. Believe it or not, they are intelligent. But their willfulness makes them difficult to train. They'll obey if they feel like it.
So why would I want another of these beautifully idiotic dogs? I have no excuse. Alec Baldwin may be some women's blue-eyed husky, but a blue-eyed husky is my blue eyed husky. The homeless dog's handsome face reigned proudly on the Animal Shelter web page and I chuckled at his name...Bullet. The next day I drove to the shelter for a "meet and greet". He paced around the enclosure, only briefly acknowledging me. The shelter attendant warned, "This breed of dog is hard to handle, and they're not very affectionate." He was partly right, but they agreed to let me adopt him since I'd had two of his breed before.
During the first six months, he was fearful and elusive, possibly due to past abuse. But as we closed in on our first year together, he became more comfortable and then downright affectionate in his own goofy way, waiting patiently at the door for my return whenever I left the house. We've been together for nearly five years, and the quiet voice in my head that periodically reminds me of his age chimes in more regularly now.
The voice rose loudly this past week while I was visiting family in Alabama. Bullet hadn't seemed quite himself for a day or two before I left and I alerted the vet's staff to keep a watchful eye. Sure enough, they called the day after I left, advising that he wasn't eating and was running a fever. Blood tests revealed evidence of liver dysfunction as his gums and eyes yellowed. Ultrasound scans showed a liver mass and a nodule or gallstone obstructing his bile duct. Surgery was risky and not likely to help. Living on a modest income, I had to decide how much I was willing to spend on an aging pet for an uncertain outcome.
So I returned from Alabama today and exchanged $1300 in order to bring Bullet home. He's on a prescription diet and taking four different medications for the next month in a dice roll to see if this less invasive trial will work. If it keeps him comfortable and happy for a few more months or years, I'll consider it money well spent on my faithful companion. And if not, at least I've had time to say goodbye.