We added a new member to our family this year and I'd like to properly introduce him.
Many of you may have seen him pop-up on our Instagram or in our Christmas card but he deserves an official announcement. Winston is a one-and-a-half year old Beagle who came to us through the Humane Society as a foster. I'll spare you the details (since we read blogs for the pretties and not the nasties) however it becomes quite evident in the pictures that he is paralyzed in his hind end. Hearing his story made me hate human beings as a whole and I could not believe, after months of spreading the word, no one would step up and offer him a home. I was a vet-tech for a number of years, before and during college, so I figured I could handle the thrice-daily diaper changes and moderate human-assistance he needed but I had no idea what I was in for. The bulldogs in tow, we went to meet Winston one rainy Sunday in November to see if we could all get along. His gentle foster mom arrived with his bags packed in the back of her car and we soon discerned she had no intentions of leaving with him. With bleak options, we took him home with us that night and embarked on a two-month long integration journey that usually ended each day in tears.
At first it was a nightmare. He was ridden with anxiety (bless his heart) and couldn't get acclimated. He howled and bayed all night long. Every. Night. He howled when we put a tea cup down, when the phone rang, when we tossed in the bed at night. Learning to express his bladder constantly made me worry whether I was doing right by him. Twice-weekly therapy sessions (over an hour away) made me question my commitment to this, a midst a budding design career, dog-showing with Seamus, a full-time corporate gig, horse care and every thing else that goes along with life. I often cried from a combination of raw-nerves and just thinking about how hard Winston's little life had been thus far.
The Humane Society graciously supplied a dog trainer to try to ease the situation. They had all of their eggs in our basket after months of campaigning and traveling to adoption events where they would leave with zero options for Winston. We finally found an optimal sleeping situation for Winston at night and working with the dog trainer has provided many more avenues for training with what would have seemed impossible when we discovered his learning disabilities. Be it from the injuries he had suffered or possibly the cause of them, we learned we were dealing with a unique case. Our trainer is part of an organization that has trained tens of thousands of dogs worldwide and he told us Winston was in the top 2 percentile...of dogs that do not respond to conventional training methods. They believe he may be autistic. Finding ways to communicate with him can be challenging.
Things started to level out around the turn of the New Year and we realized that somewhere in the mess of everything, he had integrated into our pack and into our lives. We decided to fully adopt him and just last week, I found an official spot for all of his belongings and unpacked his proverbial bags. Winston is here to stay. The President of the Humane Society (it begs mentioning that they are all real gems and truly the saving grace of many, but this particular person was 1000% a guardian angel for Mr. Winston) cried when we told her we wanted to commit to him. We couldn't be more thankful for all of the work that organizations like them do. And we are happy to provide love, shelter and care to our newest family member.
Seamus and Wilma have adjusted well to life with a new brother. Our tiny cottage is at capacity with five bodies about. And despite the challenges that Winston has, he happily 'runs' down the hallway in search of his toys, gangs up on his sister alongside Seamus and flutters his little eyes to sleep on the sofa with my husband every afternoon. He's a happy Beagle.
Please send good vibes our way as we work towards building some muscle in Winston's hind end through water therapy, laser and acupuncture treatments. While we've been told his paralysis is irreversible, we see small improvements in movement and sensation every week and owe it to him to help him try to get some mobility back. He has a wheelchair that he goes gangbusters in and does a great job of pulling himself around. But it would be a miracle if he could have control over his own bladder one day and that's what we're shooting for.
We would eventually like to write a children's book about Seamus and his Beagle. They are the best of friends.
Caring for a dog like Winston has turned our worlds upside-down. I am flying through wet wipes and children's t-shirts like you wouldn't believe. I haven't slept in in months (all you folks with newborns, I feel ya now...) But it's so worth it. And I thank God every day that my husband loves animals as much as I do.