Becky asked me if we would breed one of the dogs and I agreed. My husband Arthur took a trip to the temporary dog quarters. He agreed that we would raise “Whisper”, a beautiful black and tan malamute, until a permanent home could be found for her. Very soon a strong bond began to form between Arthur and Whisper, and he was certain that this dog was meant to be a part of our family.
The story has a sad ending because Whisper did not survive. Extreme efforts were made to save her. Unbeknownst to us and the many doctors who lovingly cared for her over the last few weeks, Whisper’s beautiful spirit was making up for a body that stood no chance. Every time I think about the events of those weeks between her rescue and her death, I ask myself the same questions. Why did this innocent creature have to suffer so much pain? Why did Arthur glimpse such a special relationship only to be tricked out of its fulfillment? And why have so many veterinary and rescue professionals selflessly devoted themselves to this beleaguered dog?
What followed the decision to give Whisper a home was a glimpse of the extraordinary pain and suffering that exists in the world, a lesson in the goodness of humanity, and yet another reminder of our purpose as human beings.
As I tried to make sense of the suffering of such an innocent creature, here are the thoughts that came to mind.
You don’t have to tune in to the Middle East news to witness the pain and suffering, the hate and evil. It lives in our backyards and inside of us. My family and many of our friends recently witnessed an example of this darkness.
What depth of personal pain can cause humans to abuse innocent animals? What little I know about the owner of Whisper’s puppy mill includes her addiction to cocaine and heroin. Clearly, this was a woman in pain, inflicting pain on defenseless creatures. I wonder if animals come to absorb negativity, absorbing energy to maintain balance. There are many examples of animals that have the same cancers and other diseases as their owners; perhaps this is just another example of the unconditional love shown by animals. Perhaps some of them, like Whisper, come into this life to maintain balance, absorbing pain, anger, despair, any negativity, until it manifests physically and they can no longer live. The amazing grace of Whisper is that, at least in the last weeks of her life, she caught a glimpse of the tremendous love that also exists in humanity today. Perhaps she was a messenger, sent here to read how we are doing. If so, she has some very positive news to report.
Whisper had been living in what we came to call her “Porsche Cave,” a shelter Arthur built for her in our outdoor patio using his car cover. She came to our house terrified and did not want to enter the house. She seemed comfortable in La Cueva with warm blankets, and she would go out alone to eat, which she did enthusiastically when left alone. After nearly two weeks of this living arrangement, with little progress in socialization each day, Whisper stopped eating. On New Year’s Eve, our neighbor, vet Dan Pirotte, answered my call for help. We were able to “catch” Whisper so he could examine her, and he concluded that she needed medical attention and an x-ray, as she could feel something in her abdomen.
We tied up a very scared Whisper and took her to Pima North Animal Hospital, where my friend, Dr. Deb Sharrer, was still working that holiday eve. To everyone’s surprise, the x-ray revealed two puppies, only a week old.
After our initial concern that Whisper would give birth in her frightened and frightened condition, we began making plans for the puppies. Arthur and I cleared out a room in our house and brought Whisper inside…she could no longer choose to hide in her Porsche cave. We would make sure that she got the care that she needed.
The outpouring of help was enormous. Dr. Sharrer and Pima North donated time and diagnostic tests without a second thought. Dr. Sharrer made trips to our home to check on Whisper on holidays and nights, with no compensation other than the hope that Whisper would regain his strength.
She was in the middle of a busy travel schedule and she knew that Arthur would probably be there and only when the puppies arrived. Pretty soon we had a two page call list to ask Arthur for help when the Whisper puppies arrived. Many people were willing to help, and they did.
Visiting friends from out of town gave me time and medical attention. My friend Jakki, who was a vet tech but in the ninth month of her own difficult and risky pregnancy, rushed over to our house to administer fluids one day when Whisper seemed to be getting dehydrated. Our neighbor and friend, Dita Couch, helped Arthur force-feed Whisper every day. When the puppies finally arrived, her husband, Dr. Lonnie Couch, an ER doctor, helped Arthur deliver the baby until Dr. Sharrer was able to get to our house. Even with this human and veterinary medical attention, the pups could not be saved, presumably due to Whisper’s malnourished and debilitated condition. In one of Whisper’s many heartbreaks, Arthur, Lonnie, and Deb had to remove the dead puppies from her. He struggled to hold on like any good mother would.
After the cubs were born, something was still not right with Whisper. She was eventually hospitalized and every conceivable test was done to find out the cause of her upset stomach. No time or money was spared, and Whisper baffled her doctors.
Then it started to get better: progress was being made, or so we thought. She started eating and seemed to be relaxed. Meanwhile, Whisper had begun to bond with our family and we were falling in love with her, imagining a life with her in our house. And, the feeling was becoming mutual. This dog that had been terrified of us walked alongside Arthur without taking his eyes off him, and lay down at my feet in my office.
Whisper’s improvement was short-lived and was followed by twenty-four hours of emergency care that came to a tragic end. A team of emergency care vets was unable to find the cause of Whisper’s distress until emergency surgery revealed a perforated intestine, the damage too advanced and too extensive for her to survive a normal life.
However, he had a grace moment just before this surgery, when Arthur was able to spend time with Whisper. He was feeling fine after a blood transfusion and was radiant. There is no doubt that she knew that Arthur loved her, that everyone at the emergency clinic was working to help her, and that human beings can have great compassion for animals. Imagine the polarity this dog experienced in her short life. The horror of a gruesome puppy mill where she was abandoned and housed with dead dogs contrasts with the love and care of a family and doctors who honored her worth.
I believe that love and compassion prevail. I couldn’t face each day on this earth if I didn’t know it with all my heart and soul. Whisper was an angel sent to read the scales and it is my hopeful conviction that she concluded that the positive side still influences humanity. Arthur, our friends, and all of the veterinary professionals who attended Whisper made a very special contribution to this loving and selfless experience. The process of loving and caring for Whisper was no in vain. In fact, it was a reminder of why we are here on this earth, a reminder of who we really are, and a reminder of the incredible capacity for compassion and love in human beings.
Many people don’t know that the puppies bought in pet stores come from these puppy mills and are often the product of the suffering of mothers like Whisper. They do not know that their purchase continues this deplorable business practice. If you want to add a pet to your family, adopt.
A whisper of love, only here and gone…Don’t miss the Whispers… they remind us of who we are.