The Kenny G song Havana played on the radio as I drove Ziggy to the county animal shelter. The old gal was sick and ready for the Rainbow Bridge. That July morning was at least six or seven years ago and until last night I haven’t listened to that song in its entirety. It always made me cry.
For eleven years I volunteered at the county shelter. I brought home about a dozen dogs, mostly old and decrepit. I love cats but my former housemate did not so I only rescued dogs. I did my best however to comfort the shelter cats while I was there, providing them with canned food, snacks, and blankets. I told the cats they were special, even if they were unwanted.
Ziggy’s owners abandoned her when she lost her eyesight. The former yard dog, a Cocker mix, was a filthy mess. Fur clumped together looked like stringy cotton candy. A groomer spruced up hard luck cases like Ziggy to make them more presentable and hopefully more likely to be adopted. Ziggy sat inside her small cage, wailing at people who passed by. No one wanted her. An old blind dog or cat has slim chances for adoption so I left that day with Ziggy in the back seat. A car accident disabled me in 1994. I have to work harder too so I related to Ziggy.
At the time I had about five dogs at home, all shelter discards. Ziggy fit right in although she bounced off the walls quite a bit until she figured out the layout of the house. She eventually found a route from the food bowls to the doggie door to the dog bed. She was satisfied. As an outside dog, she wasn’t used to affection. I picked her up and placed her on the couch. She jumped right off but she was content to snuggle next to Casey the weenie dog on a pillow. Casey though always hogged the space but Ziggy seemed to enjoy her company.
During the time I had Ziggy, I brought her to the groomer. I rewarded her with snacks. I took her out in the morning on my motorized scooter. She enjoyed walks to the corner. At Christmas time I loaded all the dogs into my car and had their photo taken with Santa. I was more pleased than the dogs but at least they had a loving safe Christmas.
After a year or so, Ziggy’s health started to fail. First, she had the trots. Then she couldn’t hold down her food. I took her to my vet who performed some tests. She said Ziggy’s liver failed. At her age, I opted to keep her comfortable. And then Ziggy stopped eating. I knew it was time.
That morning, I loaded her into my car, let her rest on a blanket and drove to the county shelter. The veterinarian sent Ziggy to the Rainbow Bridge. She went peacefully. I cried all the way home. Every time that Kenny G. song played I always changed channels. I couldn’t listen to it. Last night I did. Predictably I cried. The music brought me back to that summer day oh so many years ago when times were different. Times changed a lot. Not only did I lose my middle class status, I lost my ability to rescue unwanted animals. I survived the loss of middle class perks. Who cares about missing cable TV but my heart still aches to rescue animals. I love the two unwanted dogs I have but there are so many more that need homes and I can’t even take one. I am sorry I cannot do better for dogs and cats like Ziggy.