Pam missed Nickoli terribly. She missed knowing that he wouldn't be waiting for her when she returned home from work. Her home seemed so empty without him.
A day didn’t go by that she didn’t think of him and cry.
At first she wasn’t ready to open her heart and her home to another dog. It was too soon.
She thought that she would wait at least till the fall before getting another dog. The days started ticking by, and before she knew it, it was over a month since Nickoli had passed.
And even though Pam knew in her heart that she’d NEVER have a dog like Nickoli, she was ready to get another one.
She began searching the internet, checking out the shelters from not only Illinois, but also Indiana and Wisconsin.
Indiana runs a program through their local prison where the prisoner is responsible for a shelter dog. The dog attends a basic training program for 8 weeks, and out comes a well behaved, trained dog. The prisoner learns pride and self esteem, and the dogs have a wonderful place to live and develop a good relationship with the prisoners. It’s a win-win situation.
Pam saw a dog that she thought she could love, named Hunter, a golden retriever. I told her that I’d go with her to “prison” to visit Hunter. I even had the perfect outfit to do so - I called it my “Johnny Cash” outfit because it was all black. Pam warned me that I couldn’t take pictures - something to do with the prisoner’s identity or some silly thing. I didn’t care - think of the blog fodder!
But it wasn’t meant to be. Pam was fourth in line for Hunter. She didn’t have a chance.
There were other dogs.
There was Trapper. She even went to see him. He was a flat coat retriever/boarder collie mix. My brother went with Pam this time. Trapper was cute, but Pam felt like there was something “off” about him. She didn’t feel a connection, either, like she had with Nickoli. The shelter really was looking for someone who was home all day for Trapper. Well, Pam worked, so that was not possible. It turned out that Trapper had a lot of separation anxiety and didn’t like to be left alone. They didn’t exactly spell this out to Pam, until she called to say that she wasn’t interested in him.
She called about a golden who was past her prime in breeding. Goldens are beautiful dogs and have wonderful personalities. Our brother has a golden so Pam knew the breed and that she would be happy with one. She called and talked to the breeder. He was happy to give his dog to Pam.
The dog wasn’t housebroken.
Six years old and never housebroken.
Strange, I know.
Pam was beginning to realize how lucky she had been with Nickoli. She got him without knowing much about his background, or huskies, at all. Never once did Nickoli have an “accident” in the house, even if she was gone long hours for work.
She thought she would NEVER get another dog as great as Nickoli.
But then she found Benny. Just look at that sweet face. Pam fondly calls him, "Ba-ba-ba-Benny and the Jets"!
And it was LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.
She felt an instant connection to this dog. Some how, some way, just through his picture on the internet, she KNEW this was the dog for her.
Benny is a husky/border collie mix. He tested HIGH/POSITIVE for heartworm.
This is not good.
Heartworm is exactly what it sounds like. Worms attack the heart. It is transferred from mosquitoes. What is so sad is that this can be prevented by giving your dog a simple heartworm pill every month. For more information about heartworm, click here.
Benny was picked up in the south, where it is hot and humid, there are many mosquitoes, and where many dogs that end up in the shelter are found to have heartworm. He was wandering around on the fairgrounds eating out of garbage cans for 10 days before someone finally called the local animal shelter. They, in turn called the shelter in Indiana, who specialize in the husky breed, and they drove down to pick Benny up, along with another husky.
Benny was a pretty sick dog. He was thin, his fur was rough looking, and he was missing a couple of teeth. He was sent to a foster home , and treated with kid gloves. His foster mom, Chris, fed him home cooked meals 7 times a day to fatten him up. He was also on antibiotics for one month.
In the meantime, Pam has decided that Benny is THE ONE. She called the shelter and told them.
Their response? “Benny has to undergo two months of heartworm treatment. It’s pretty rough. But we have many other wonderful dogs.”
“No,” Pam said firmly, “I want Benny. I will wait for him.”
The shelter thought it would be a good idea if Pam visited Benny before his first heartworm shot. It was a two and a half hour drive from Pam’s house to the foster home.
We left early Sunday morning and headed for Indiana. It was a beautiful sunny day, the GPS had the address loaded in, and my camera was in my lap. Benny here we come!
We got there in no time (or so it seemed).
Chris met us in the driveway. Her white little two story house was off to the right; the kennel was to the left. Chris is foster mom to 9 dogs. This is her life. Literally. She LOVES these dogs. She lives and breathes these dogs. This woman is amazing.
She led us to a fenced in area to the left, opened a gate, where we stood while she closed the gate behind us before opening another gate in front of us. To the right of us was a small red building.
We spotted Benny right away and Pam yelled out, “Benny!”
There were several huskies milling around, too.
Chris entered into the fenced yard and commandeered every dog except Benny into their separate cages. Benny would have his own one-on-one time. Then we were allowed to enter the backyard.
Pam and Benny ran up to each other and it was as if he was expecting her! He jumped up and kissed her, licking her face.
Pam, Chris, and I sat down and talked (well some of the time we talked, other times Pam was busy making out with Benny).
Benny is such a sweet natured dog.
He loves the water.
Pam brought Benny a toy. It was a big hit. He wouldn’t put it down.
The director of the shelter also recommended that Pam bring something with her scent on it to give to Benny so that he would remember her smell. So Pam brought her pillowcase so that when Benny is lying on his cot, feeling awful from his shot, maybe he can draw some comfort from Pam’s smell. Here’s hoping!
Pam had a heart-to-heart with Benny and told him about how rough the next couple of months will be. But she would pray for him and wait for him. Here’s Benny looking intently into Pam’s eyes seeming to believe and understand every word.
The longer we sat there and conversed with Chris, the more we were blown away by this woman’s knowledge of dogs in general, and huskies in particular. She’d point out a dog and tell us some idiosyncrasy of it, then point to another and say something like, “Oh and there’s so-and-so who only likes to have her leash put on in this corner of the yard.”
Chris lives on 3 acres of land; of which is divided up into three different sections. One section is the house and a fenced-in back yard, another area is the outside kennel and huge fenced in yard, and the third is just an open area.
The outside kennel has five fenced cages with cement slabs that can be easily rinsed. At the back of these areas are doggie doors which allow the dogs to enter into the red building. Inside is an extension of their cages with cots for sleeping, and the building is air conditioned with large fans circulating.
Here is a picture of Benny inside the kennel, lying on his raised cot, chewing on his new toy.
She also keeps four foster dogs in her home, BESIDES her own husky, Max. She invited us into her home. Imagine being greeted by 5 large dogs when you opened the door! It was a little intimidating, but none of the dogs were aggressive, and none barked. I was amazed that there was NO ODOR in the house, and NO DOG HAIR to be seen. How can that be? The dogs have free roam of her house, except for the upstairs.
Chris explained that she bought this old house and gutted it, remodeling it to be specifically a “dog house”. Lots of rooms have two doors to them so if she needs to separate dogs she’ll put one in a room and open another door to let a dog out.
The dogs sleep on the enclosed porch in these cages. They can come and go as they please through the doggie door.
This is the backyard with one of her new recruits who is a little skittish.
We thanked Chris for her time, and both Pam and I feel so much better knowing that Benny is in such a nice place while he is getting treatment.
Today Benny had his first treatment shot. He is not feeling too well. The first 24 hours are the most critical. Please pray that Benny makes it through this harsh treatment plan that includes injecting arsenic in his back muscle. The poison goes into his bloodstream then into his heart, thus killing the worms. Benny is to stay quiet for four weeks, because any activity could cause the worms to die in mass and flood the lungs, causing circulatory shock or congestive heart failure, possibly causing sudden collapse and death. He will be taken out on a leash to do his duty, then back into his cage. This will be his life for the next month. Just when he'll start to feel better, it will be time to have another shot. Then another four weeks of quiet time. Then he will be neutered, and FINALLY he will be able to go home to Pam. It will be a joyous day indeed!
I like to think this is Benny dreaming of his new life with my sister, his new mommy.