I have been procrastinating during the past few months. I have all the words I want to say inside of me, yet I can’t bring myself to write them down. I have watched my dog Marley decline. He has arthritis of the hips. He will no longer climb the stairs to the third floor at Villa Migelita Ecolodge because he cannot get down those same stairs. I help him down the small stairs that reach the patio area where I feed all of the animals. I worry how he will continue to walk down any of the stairs at the Villa in the upcoming months as he grows older. As Marley continues to age it brings to mind taking care of my mother when she lived with me years ago. Animals are not so different even though they don’t get to live a long life. How I wish they could.
Cats are like the comfy blanket we use when we are feeling down. They are always nearby in a spot they have picked out to be the favorite place for a while. They have their habits as we adapt to their idiosyncrasies. Dogs are the smiling faces that wag their tails when they see us. They anxiously await us when we leave the house. Cats not so much as they are such independent creatures. They show their love without a lot of fuss. Cats are insistent and determined in their show of affection. Often in the middle of the night when they decide to climb up on your body or rub a whisker on your face to startle you awake.
All animals age differently. My dog Marley doesn’t look old. He has few grey hairs, but the giveaway is arthritis in his hips. Marley walks with a hesitant gate. He is a bit crooked in his form. When sleeping, the mouth opens in a creepy grin. I often check to see if he is still breathing. Franchesca, my old tortoiseshell cat, could be found sleeping next to Marley on most days. They were friends for many years and came with me to Colombia from the United States. Franchesca passed away suddenly on Thursday. In this video, she looks healthy and very content. I don’t know what happened to Franchesca. Wednesday evening, she was with me in the kitchen talking to me. She always would meow, and I would answer with a meow. She was often in the living room relaxing when she wasn’t outside on a patio taking in the sun. When she didn’t come to the food dish on Thursday morning, I started calling for her. I found her under the small steps that lead to the first-floor patio. She looked asleep, but I knew she wasn’t. I reached in to pick her up, thinking she might be sick. She was dead. I won’t go into the details, but I broke down. She was intact without marks. She didn’t ever wander far as she had her favorite places. Usually, she was with me in the morning when I wake up. Thursday morning, she wasn’t at the end of my bed. I had my gardener bury her with a beautiful plant to mark her grave. Maybe Franchesca had an underlying condition that I was unaware of. Franchesca had a long and rewarding life with me. She was special because my deceased daughter gave her to me as a gift. Franchesca mellowed in her last years. I often would tell my guests she won’t let you pick her up or pet her and, Franchesca always proved me wrong. She was content, living her best life on my farm. I don’t think Franchesca suffered, at least I want to feel that. I want to imagine she closed her eyes and fell into an eternal sleep.
Rating: 1 out of 5.
I arrived in Colombia with five animals nine years ago. I have only Marley left with me now. Each morning I see Marley smiling at me is another reminder to live my best life. Marley has no worries as he is forever happy. I want to be this way. I want to let go of the burdens I have placed on my heart. I want to feel content in every moment as our senior animals do. They have pain we don’t know about because they never complain. They enjoy each day as if they will live forever. They never appear to worry about their futures. They exist for our pleasure. We exist to receive their love, hope for a great many years together. I can only hope that Marley passes peacefully in his sleep, as I imagine Franchesca did. In the meantime, I am going to appreciate the gift Marley has given me with his beautiful spirit. I am going to grieve my Franchesca as the loss of a family member. I am going to wake up every morning with positivity and a smile. I think my animals have taught me to cherish what I have at this moment.
Everything is shiny in my life here in Colombia at Villa Migelita. Lately, my dog Marley has become the shiny object in my life. He is old and he is still doing OK. I want to share a story from yesterday that made me realize he knows he is growing older too.
We needed to bring Orion to the Veterinarian because he has allergies. Marley came out and saw Orion in the truck. I said “Come Marley, back to your house” he ignored me and when I opened the door he jumped right in and sat in the front seat. I say “Marley we are going to the Vet and you need to get down.” He jumped to the backseat with Orion and sat down. I realized he wants to be with me every single second he can. I understand because dogs just know. I said “Ok, you can go too.” He relaxed and went along.
He was my shiny object for the day and for the rest of his life. His years are numbered. I don’t know how old he is. He has been with me since 2008 before my daughter died. He is the gentlest, most special dog in the world. According to me. I know we all have our dogs and think the same. But yesterday made my heart smile. Orion had to be put in a room by himself because Orion does not like animals not in his pack. Marley was able to explore the farm of my friend and veterinarian.
He was so happy. We went off to look at a cow that had a problem, and we left Marley to himself. He was so happy. He was with me, and he was on an adventure. He also had a little check up too. All is fine with him and he is still strong, I just can’t take him on long hikes anymore.
So my Marley is the shiny object in my life for the next years. I will treasure each moment with him, and I will listen to him when he asserts himself. He had an adventure without a hike yesterday and he was very happy for that.
So when his life comes to an end too soon, I will remember him jumping in the truck and saying in his own way ” I need to be with you more!” I will listen!
Baby is a twelve-year-old yellow Lab who was going to be sent to a shelter because her owner was moving and did not want to take her with him. She had lived her life with loyalty to her human but he was not showing loyalty to her. In fact, he actually never treated her as one should treat a cared for pet, he left her outside on a patio her whole life. She has scars on her body from laying on cold, hard concrete, without a bed for her comfort, not even a blanket. Yet, Baby loved the only family she knew. Her owner knew she would be put to sleep and would have surrendered her to a shelter if my dear friend Madeline had not stepped in to save her. Madeline owned the house he was renting and he had told her he was moving to another state. She asked about Baby “what were his plans for her?” Madeline is an activist in her spare time for animal rights. She is also a Delta Air Lines flight attendant and my friend of over 30 years. She posted about a senior dog needing a loving home and I immediately offered to post it on my page Villa Migelita. If we could not find a home for her they could send her to me here in Colombia, although I knew it would be a traumatic trip as I brought a senior dog here myself when I moved from the USA to Colombia. The thought of leaving any of my animals behind never entered my mind and that is why I was so adamant to help. This blog is a story of friendship, kindness and the unified efforts of six women to save Baby and get her to her new home in Kentucky. Baby would never have had her home with Lisa her new owner, but for a series of events that led her to my page. When I put the post on my page the outpouring of heartfelt sadness and anger that someone could do this to an older animal was immediate. People shared the post, friends offered to help. Lisa came to the thread saying without a moment’s hesitation she would take Baby into her home in Kentucky. Within a day the six of us had rescued Baby and were trying to find a way to get her to Lisa’s home in Kentucky from South Miami.
Lisa just happened to see a video I posted of a hummingbird trapped in a window here at my house in Colombia on March 25th of this year. She had a friend who had liked my video and it showed up in her news feed on Facebook. She loved this little hummingbird and the way I held it in my hand and let it go and could only think of her beloved dog Chevy who had passed recently. Lisa went to my page and saw the post about Baby being abandoned and in need of a new home. My post moved her and she wrote that she would take Baby all the while remembering what she had whispered into Chevy’s ears as he drew his last breath. “Chevy, I love you so much and will feel you close to me when the hummingbirds return soon.” As she wrote to me that she indeed wanted to give Baby a loving home, she thought it was no coincidence she found Villa Migelita because of this little hummingbird. “Could this hummingbird be Chevy’s message to her from the Rainbow Bridge?” Her thoughts were that she should have Baby in her home just as the hummingbirds would be arriving in April. Her whispered comment into Chevy’s ear that sad day were so fresh in her mind, a moment embedded in her heart for all eternity. So this story begins with an ending, an ending of a life of a treasured pet. Now Lisa was waiting to get Baby to her new home and shower love and kindness on her for the rest of her life. A dog’s life she was saving in Chevy’s memory, with the hummingbirds as the sign it was what she needed to do. Baby had not had an easy life up to this point but Lisa would to change that, along with all of us. We all were in this together, and we all felt a love that connected us through this one senior dog that would forever create a warm bond between women.
When Madeline heard that Lisa was going to adopt Baby, all of us went into action. My friend Jo had offered to meet Madeline in central Florida and drive Baby to Kentucky. Marlene had friends who did pet transport and was checking on that angle. Meanwhile Baby had to be checked out by a veterinarian and my friends Kathy, Madeline and Marlene took her to the vet. Poor Baby had many health problems from living outside on cold concrete all of her life. She had hot spots on her feet, she was callused on her legs, she was underweight. The need of antibiotics along with tender loving care which had never been provided to her in her life was just a start. She was grateful, as she had left dreadful conditions and was given comfort for once in her life. Madeline continued to worry over the long trip to Kentucky and if Baby could adapt and withstand such a long journey. Lisa was on hold about getting Baby to her house as the logistics were discussed. Jo wanted to drive and would have, but Marlene and Madeline decided to use a pet transport that both thought was reputable because they had used this man before. Well, poor Baby had another disagreeable experience with the use of this transport called pet48llc, the owner Bill Timmons in Ft. Pierce, Florida. He offers what sounds like a good package but when it came down to the actual transport Baby went though hell. Marlene and Madeline were told that Baby would leave on Friday morning of Good Friday, and be at Lisa’s home on Easter Sunday. What a wonderful gift for both Baby and Lisa, to arrive on Easter Sunday! We all were on pins and needles when she left with Bill on Good Friday to go to Lisa in Kentucky, although he already was behind schedule because he left mid-day. Baby was clean, on antibiotics and had a new special blanket for her ride of three days. She had a new collar and leash in girly colors. She had spent a couple of days with Madeline being pampered. Baby had never known this kind of love in her life. She ended up with what she was used to, indifference. She suffered this drive with her stoic nature, and gentle spirit. It took over 80 plus hours for Baby to arrive in Kentucky to Lisa’s awaiting arms. The 6 of us were on Facebook all hours of the day watching as the drive that was to end with Baby in Kentucky on Easter Sunday, turned into a nightmare of many stops and a lot of lies from Bill. He went this way and that. Posting maps on his page that made no sense. He stopped to see his brother, a recreational stop not included in the plans he told them about. He was over 25 hours late to Lisa’s house! We were all were crying with sadness for poor Baby. She was in a crate way to small for her size, which he said was a crate for Great Dane …. it was not. This crate was against the hatchback of his car and she had no view nor circulation. She was in that crate for the entire time, along with some other dogs squeezed into the back o f his SUV. The only time she was out of the crate was for bathroom stops which Bill complained he had to take too many stops and this was why he was 25 hours late. He said posting a few photos on Facebook was causing him to get behind schedule. We were frantic and Marlene was super worried and finally called him to get a hotel which the girls would pay for. He declined and said he would sleep in his car. My assumption is that those dogs never left the crate at all, and he had the floors of the crates covered with mulch because these dogs did not have enough stops to use the bathroom, so they went in the crates. When Baby finally made it to Kentucky Lisa was frantic with worry. Baby was so happy to see her, and didn’t know what to do first, use the bathroom, or into her arms. It was like a meeting of soul mates, Baby knew she was home. Lisa had so much ready for her to be comfortable on the drive to her house in Kentucky. Her back seat down with the blanket that Madeline had bought for her on the floor. Baby finally got to use the blanket after 80 hours in a small crate, Baby was comfortable and ready to begin her new life.
The next chapter of this journey was encouraging as Lisa brought Baby to her vet and was told Baby was strong, in good health and could live a lot longer. The only thing the vet said was a problem was a slight cough which she was given medication for. However, Baby started to become whiny and needed to go to the bathroom all the time at night. Poor Lisa was not getting any sleep. Baby was in distress and Lisa did not know why. She brought Baby to the vet again and Baby has some health problems that were not picked up by the vet in Florida nor the first vet Lisa saw. She has an enlarged heart and a tumor that is pushing against her trachea. Lisa broke down sobbing when she heard this sad news. She vowed to do everything to give Baby the best care she could. Baby’s breathing is labored. Lisa has many medications to give her, but she is fine with this as she knew when she adopted a senior dog this was to be expected. Bear her dog that was Chevy’s companion is slowly accepting Baby and they wander the farm all day chasing squirrels and birds. Even though Baby has health problems she is playing for the first time in her life. Baby has freedom now on Lisa’s farm for the first time in her life. All of us have been in contact daily since Baby arrived to be with Lisa. Lisa is doing a good job of handling the pressure she is under caring for a senior dog with health problems. Baby is living her life one day at a time, enjoying the sunshine and space she never had on that concrete patio. We all pray for Baby and Lisa to have more years together, as Baby will be managed with medication which Lisa is so graciously paying for without a complaint. Lisa had Chevy who had similar health problems, she feels that Baby is a gift from Chevy as they did not have enough time together on this Earth. We all enjoy the many lovely photos sent to us daily of Baby living in her new home. I will always be grateful that someone stepped in to help Baby continue life in comfort. The next time you adopt a dog please remember that an animal is for life, not to be discarded because you have to move or change your lifestyle. Baby got a second chance and for that all of us who participated in her adoption are forever grateful.
I have a request for everyone. Please keep Baby and Lisa in your prayers. They have a difficult journey ahead. Lisa took on a dog with health problems and she is not complaining. She is stepping up for Baby and giving her the comfort she deserves in her twilight years. Soon the hummingbirds will arrive at Lisa’s farm in Kentucky, and Lisa can watch them knowing that Chevy sees them from his home over the Rainbow Bridge. Chevy would be proud of his Mommy Lisa because she will be looking at those hummingbirds with Baby by her side. That is a miracle for all of us. The miracle of how a hummingbird video on Villa Migelita page saved the life of an old dog. Yet I am not surprised as I have long known hummingbirds send me messages, now they have saved a life.