"Our house is a zoo!" is a phrase that I say a lot. There are days when I wonder, "What in the world was I thinking getting this many pets?" Since my husband Jared and I are waiting to have children, my pets are my family. It's a strange phenomenon, pets and their owners. They never offer words of encouragement, they simply tell you with a look. They don't tell you jokes, but they make you laugh harder than any comedian ever could. They don't buy you things, but they give you gifts that cannot be bought... loyalty, companionship and love.
Each of my pets has their own story and that story has made them the way they are today. Aren't people the same way? We all have our own battle scars. Some physical. Some emotional. But each battle has shaped us into the person that we are today. There is one story that I would like to share with you. This is the story of my dog Valerie and how she has impacted my life.
Several months ago, my husband and I decided to find a play-mate for our dog Maggie. We had rescued Maggie about a year ago and although she was perfectly content the way things were, I knew she would love to have a friend to run and play with on a daily basis. So, the search began. I began looking at pet adoption sites online, and I came across and organization I had never heard of before. SAMM: Save A Mexican Mutt. At first I thought it was a joke! This couldn't be a real organization, could it? But as I read the stories, I began to cry. I learned that dogs that are "put down" in Mexico are usually drowned or electrocuted. This organization is set up to transport these dogs into no-kill shelters and find their forever homes here in the US.
That's when I saw a picture of Valerie. The sweetest looking dog with the kindest eyes I've ever seen. I had to have her. We worked closely with the organization to set up her adoption. It was during this time that I heard about her background. She had been starved, tied to a tree for God-knows how long, and already had a litter of puppies that were nowhere to be found during her rescue. On top of that, her tail had been cut off at some point in her life. I can only imagine the pain she has endured. I was more intent on rescuing this dog than ever before. She deserved a safe home. Right before she made the trip up to Texas, we got some MORE sad news. During her exam the vet discovered that she had heartworm. I was devastated. I knew that treatment was very expensive, and we most likely couldn't cover the cost.
Then I got my first piece of good news. SAMM offered to pay for the entire treatment for Valerie! I couldn't believe it! It was a significant sum of money and I wondered how they were able to cover the cost. It was then that I learned of another story that touched my heart. Several months prior to me finding Valerie on SAMM's website, a dear woman name Valerie died unexpectedly. She was one of SAMM's biggest supporters and gave tirelessly towards the organization. When she passed, the family asked that friends and family donate money to SAMM, an organization that represented her life's passion. It is only because of these donations that Valerie (named after this sweet woman) was rescued and treated for her disease.
My husband and I have been taking care of Valerie for the past two months while she heals from her treatment and works her way back into normal activity. It has been exhausting but I am happy to say that this past Saturday was her final check-up! She is now returning slowly back to normal activities and will finally get to play with all of the memebers of the family the way she has longed to since her arrival. This sweet dog has taught me so many things. No matter what your story is, no matter the scars, there is always hope and we should always stay optimistic. Never pity yourself. Let yourself heal and then in time let yourself live life to its fullest. Your past does not have to define you. Life is better when shared, so surround yourself with friends and family.
To those that donated to SAMM and to those that rescued Valerie, I want to thank you. She is a treasure to us and I assure you, she is safe and loved. Below I have included Valerie's before photo (the day she was rescued) and the most recent Whittenberg family photo. You will notice, she looks much healthier now... In fact maybe a little too "healthy!" We may be going on a diet soon!