They are the four scariest letters in the dog alphabet. It is a horrible disease that has claimed thousands of good dogs. My great friends Mollie and Copper joined me at the Bridge because of this hideous illness. Mollie’s fight was brief; Copper’s spanned a few years. The results were sadly the same.
Our friend Lil’ Girl has battled the illness for six years. A remarkable achievement. Her surviving that long was due, in part, to the great IMHA Facebook Group, which brings needed guidance, and answered questions, to parents with babies diagnosed with this often fatal ailment.
The illness is as hard on parents as it is dogs. It can strike with severe force at any time. Each day parents have to check their dog’s gums to make sure they are pink and any misstep, cough, sneeze, or lazy day is cause for concern. It is a never-ending and expensive journey, but parents are glad to take it as long as their babies are alright.
Several days ago Lil Girl’s mom left her to go to work. Lil Girl was happy and healthy but when her mom returned Lil Girl had pale gums, and her urine was dark. The doctor told her that it was not the return of IMHA and probably an infection. She was sent home with some medication.
But it wasn’t an infection, and it wasn’t IMHF. It was a leaky heart valve. Lil’ Girl needed a lot of heart to get through life. She needed it to survive as a young, pregnant stray dog who was lovingly taken in by her family. She needed it to help a litter of six dogs survive, including Ajax, who lived with her until her last day, for 12 years. Her heart got her through her life so it makes a sad but certain sense that the heart would be the organ that ultimately failed her.
She did survive IMHF, but the only way to do that is to be taken by something else. But Lil’ Girl didn’t succumb to anything; she fought every day of her life. None of us can be mortal and immortal at the same time, but she sure did try.
Lil’ Girl had lost touch with many of her Doggyspace friends when the site closed three years ago, but none of them had forgotten her. They came running from all around Rainbow Bridge’s Doggyspace to reunite with their friend, to tell her how brave she was, how much they all admired her, and to help her with her hard transition ahead.
While her mom’s heart was broken when Lil’ Girl left her, she still has part of her baby, in Ajax, and she knows that she had the pleasure of living with a tough little girl who may not have defeated one of the deadliest diseases known to dogs, but she wrestled it to a draw.
And now she can become, like Cooper and Molly, another IMHF angel helping other parents and dogs fight this terrible disease.