by Melissa K. Garner
She was in the most mangled and distressed state that I have ever seen any animal. When I saw her for the first time my heart was wrenched in two. Her skin was a bright pink to red and her hair was thin and patchy, with a good bit that was bald. I could count every rib she had and then some. She wasn't sure if she could trust me and by the looks of her I would have to say that it appeared she wasn't sure if she could trust anyone. To make matters worse I wagered it hadn't been too long ago that she had had a litter of puppies. What I was most appalled at though was her condition and that someone could look at her and not realize she needed medical treatment or worse for them to look away. My first course of action was to get her something to eat and drink. The food I set out disappeared within a matter of seconds. So I offered her more. I wanted to hold her and bring her inside my home but with three other dogs and a child, and not knowing what was wrong with her, I couldn't risk it. September in Florida was warm so she wasn't in need of shelter except at night. I provided her what I could -- the garage. I told myself that if she were still hanging around Monday I would take her to the vet. She was friendly enough and my daughter was drawn to her. She showed no signs of aggression or ill-temperament. She wanted to give us kisses, all seemingly to convey her gratitude. Monday came and I loaded her up and called my employer and told them I would be late as I was taking this dog to the vet. She seemed happy just to be in the company of others, someone who cared. The whole way to the vet's office I was trying to think of a name for her for the paperwork. I truly believe God put on my heart to call her Hope. It seemed to fit in that she needed someone to give her hope and without realizing it, I too needed a little hope added back into my life. A little over a year ago I lost my beloved Sachel, a male boxer that I had raised from three days old. I have not fully gotten over the loss, and doubt I ever will. I dropped Hope off and left my information. Something inside me knew her condition was bad. I just prayed it wasn't too bad. When the vet called I braced for the bad news. First, she had a condition known as demodex -- a genetic form of the mange. It's minor and treatable. The second issue was she had hookworms, again relatively minor and treatable. She also had a yeast infection in her ears, another minor and treatable condition. The kicker was the diagnosis of heartworms. I thought it might be a possibility, but I prayed that this was not something I would have to deal with. I've never had a dog with heartworms, and I know how easily preventable they are. Nonetheless, this was what I faced, what we faced. We laid out a treatment plan, getting some of her infections and infestations under control before we proceeded with heartworm treatment. I was saddened because I know the treatment can also kill the animal. It was a risk. Following multiple vet visits we were on track with our plan. I had intended to find her a loving home, though I knew deep down no one would want a dog with heartworms. It's a devastating condition, and somewhat costly to treat. After the hookworms were no longer a concern, Hope was introduced to the rest of my clan. After a few wary growls and designation of territories, Hope became a part of the family. Once again, I had a plan in that she would stay outside, but it tore at my heart strings when the three others came inside and she stood at the door, again eyes pleading "Just love me." It wasn't long before Hope migrated indoors. I bought her a nice, cushy bed, but that was quickly foregone as she made her way into the bed with me and the others. Thankfully, I have a king bed to accommodate a three-year-old child, a Boxer, Cocker Spaniel, Boston Terrier, and now Hope who we have decided is an American Pit Bull Terrier mix. Her love for us is ever-present in her actions and her constant tail-wagging. Today Hope is receiving her heartworm treatment and I am holding my breath that all goes well. I believe she knew that deep down I would never give up on her, I would never give up Hope or having hope. I believe God knew this too, and this was why He led her to my door, where hope would be abounding for both of us. She has allowed me to heal from losing Sachel, and made me realize that we all just need a little hope and someone that will love us.
(Melissa K. Garner