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May 10, 2012 8:02 am

MY LOUSY WORLD: Celebrate life like a dog

Written by Doug Blough

The highlight of a recent day came while walking my dogs by the river, when Trina suddenly veered off the trail and hunched over, trying to pinch the proverbial loaf. You must be thinking, “Boy, this guy sure doesn’t set the excitement bar high,” but let me explain.

I wrote briefly about my worst days ever on Sept. 11, 2010, when I learned a credit card collector had relieved me of every penny of the $2,000 in my checking account. Suddenly flat broke, I changed my Saturday afternoon plans and drove to finish a roofing job so my pets and I could eat that week.
I took my dogs to the isolated job site where we’d be alone and they could romp to their hearts delight. But since the generator was locked away, I had to call the foreman to come unlock the trailer. He consoled me about my lost money: “You’ve had some really bad breaks lately. But bad things come in threes; good things will start happening now.”
I thanked him, bid farewell and began climbing my ladder when I saw Trina rolling in the dirt. Jim, a real dog lover, had just backed his big truck over my little dog.  
Emergency X-rays revealed not only the obvious crushed back foot, but a badly broken tail bone that houses the nerves that control bowel function.
My repeated failed attempts at learning to apply dog diapers and her look of shame when messing in the house left me distraught and questioning whether prolonging it was humane. After many weeks and a canceled appointment to free her from her misery, it was time for a final visit to the wonderful second vet who had weeks earlier heard about Trina and offered and performed weeks of pro-bono treatment.
I wept uncontrollably during the two-mile drive, yet Trina never looked over at me from her passenger window. She definitely knew. Seeing my emotional state, an assistant said they would meet me outside for the tragic end. Too late to reverse another decision, I sat in the grass with Trina and Trinity and prayed that for whatever reason, the vet would talk me out of it. Sure enough, she said, “You know, her eyes look much clearer. And since you said she peed on her own earlier, let’s give her at least another week.”
Long story almost short, it’s been 18 months and little Trina celebrates life daily. When we take our walks to the canal, she’s in perpetual motion. While old Trinity conserves energy, Trina leaps the canal and races into the field on that deformed foot until she selects the perfect digging spot. With her front paws a blur, her head pops up occasionally to throw aside a troublesome root. About every fifth trip or so, the living backhoe proudly finds us to display a rodent she’s unearthed and euthanized.  
She rolls in the grass (or horse nuggets, or whatever’s handy) more often and more vigorously than she ever did pre-accident. Sure, she’s still and always will be No. 2 incontinent, but what the hey? Since they’re always small and ball-shaped, it’s almost like an Easter Egg hunt every morning.
And that’s why I was so proud of her on the river trail. She tries so hard to defecate the old-fashioned way when we’re outside, even though she’s no longer physically equipped to do so. She looks at me like the old song, “I’m not perfect … but I’m perfect for you.” And I sing in return, “I love you more today than yesterday … but not as much as tomorrow.”
Trina’s miracle, joyful life made me even sadder for my friend Chris, who loves her beautiful collie, Spencer, in that same, consuming way. When she called me crying last week that Spencer had with no forewarning gone into kidney failure, I returned to prayer. My faith has been weak, but it’s stronger in my animal prayers than my personal ones.
A blood transfusion would be the only hope for Spencer’s mystery decline, and a black Lab from the Park County Animal Shelter would be the hero donor. And it took. Spencer has returned home to a rejuvenated, thankful Chris, and his prognosis is guardedly optimistic.
While walking my dogs back from the canal, a cheerful couple were walking their dogs on the sidewalk ahead of us. The large, long-haired, white dog jaunted awkwardly and kept pulling back to visit with my dogs. Then I noticed its missing front leg, but the tail was wagging like life was perfect.
So what’s wrong with me? Here I am with two good legs and as continent as the day is long, but in a two-year mental funk I can’t seem to shake. But Trina’s lust for life gives me hope that one day soon, I too will be rolling gleefully in a pile of horse muffins.

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