I met Mr. Sandburg one day in Northeast about 2 yrs. ago. I was doing outreach and he was “junkin”. It was large item pick-up day for the trash service and he was going through some of those things. We spoke good morning to each other and pretty soon we started visiting. He was probably in his 70’s. I asked him if he had any dogs and he said yes that he had two pit bulls. I thought he lived around there so I was telling him what we do and thought he might like me to come over and get him some dog food and check out his dogs. He told me he lived in south KC-he was all the way in Northeast to go junkin! He gave me his address and told me to stop by one day when I’m out south.
A few weeks later I was in his neighborhood, so I stopped by. He was glad to see me. His son lived with him and they both showed me their dogs, which looked really good. They had good dog houses and they were at good body weight. They were not spayed/neutered yet and I advised them of the city ordinance and offered to help them. They agreed and I brought their dogs in for sp/n. Everything was going fine. We stopped periodically to check in and see how things were going. We gave them hay in the winter and fly products in the summer. Even though the dogs were out on tie-outs 24/7, they were as well cared for as could be. You’ve got to remember that it’s a different mentality out there.
I hadn’t seen them in quite a while and found myself on their street the other day. I stopped in and the son said that he had tried to call us but that one of the dogs was sick. It was the female, Julia. He said she got really skinny and then her belly boated up and they took her to the vet. She was heart-worm positive and the vet said it would be $500 for treatment. They could not afford that and didn’t know what to do. I told him that we should go out and look at her and when I saw her, I knew this was not good. Beautiful Julia looked like one of those goats in the petting zoo. Her abdomen was huge with fluid. Otherwise, she was very, very thin. She was in the final stages of heart worm disease. Julia was an older dog and in their own way, these people loved her. It’s not how you or I would keep a dog, out on a tie-out it’s whole life, but in their own way they loved these dogs. (Of course, I asked him why she was back on a chain and he said the tie-out had broken a few weeks ago-at least it was a light-weight chain).
Mr. Sandburg’s son got his dad for me to talk to about all of this. He agreed that I could take her to the Humane Society of Greater KC. I told him that she may be too far gone.I was trying to prepare him-she looked pretty bad. When I asked him how old Julia was, he started counting up the years and he started crying. He said she was 12 yrs. old. He’d had her the whole time.
I took Julia over to the HSGKC and when Dr. Taylor saw her, I knew. She was too far gone, her body was shutting down. When she listened to her heart and lungs, she said that Julia was having trouble getting a good breath because all of that fluid pressing on her diaphram. She felt that Julia was suffering. Her heart just couldn’t pump like it should anymore.
I went out to the car to call Mr. Sandburg and then Dr. Taylor ended up talking to him and explaining everything very patiently. They had questions like why hadn’t the de-wormer that they’d been giving her work for the heart worms, etc. They just didn’t know. I say it all the time, but it’s education, education, education out here. So important.
Mr. Sandburg told Dr. Taylor to go ahead and put Julia down. He did not want her to suffer anymore.
I held Julia and loved on her before they had to go ahead and sedate her. I’ve said before that I’ve had more euthanasia this summer than ever before and I’ve sat and comforted too many animals while they slipped away. It’s hard to get back out there the next day sometimes. Thanks for keeping us going.