I could tell by the tremor in Pam’s voice that there’s no way she could make it through another loss.
She told me that not too long ago she lost her husband of 34 years and then, shortly after that, her daughter. As she was telling me about everything she’s gone through over these past few years, I watched her cling to her dog, Blues. Now, I may not know what it feels like to lose a husband or a child, but I know exactly how she feels when she looks at Blues. One hug from your pet and all of the sudden you can breathe again. That pressure in your chest is gone, and you see a sliver of hope in the reflection of their soft eyes.
“She’s been my lifesaver,” Pam said. But she didn’t have to tell me that for me to know.
But then it hit me again. After listening to Pam tell me about the several times she’s come close to losing Blues, too, I barely found it in myself to pick my beating heart up off the floor. I had to though because that’s what they needed me, and everyone else who works at PRC, to do.
“A couple of years ago, it was really bad. She was so bad,” Pam said, struggling to hold her tears back. “And I couldn’t …” her voice trailed off, tears taking its place. She couldn’t finish her sentence, and she didn’t have to.
In that moment, all I wanted was wrap my arms around her and help carry that pain. Instead, I did what we’re here to do … make sure she knew we’d do all we could to keep Blues in her life.
Two days into mourning the loss of her 3-year-old pit bull was when little Blues appeared in Pam’s life, ready to absorb the immense grief she had been feeling. The 3-month-old puppy was living in an abandoned, boarded-up house and running the streets of Clinton before a friend scooped her up and introduced her to Pam.
Blues has been her lifesaver ever since.
Blues was spayed at our clinic back in 2014 shortly after Pam took her in as her own, and all was well until we saw her again in 2019 after she became lethargic and started acting strange. It was the month of May, which had our team scared that she might’ve been battling a bad case of heartworm. Their intuition wasn’t wrong; Blue’s test came back positive.
During that time, we had a program called Fight The Bite where we offered a discount on flea, heartworm and parasite prevention, and, if their test came back positive, we would assist them with treatment if needed. (Although this sponsorship program is no longer in play, we still do whatever we can to help families keep their pets.)
Pam, like many others we help on a daily basis, didn’t find herself with that type of money; heartworm treatment can cost over $1,000 depending on the severity of the disease. But when it comes to keeping a pet in a person’s life, especially when they are the only lifesaver keeping them afloat, the ability to pay is inconsequential. We were going to try to do whatever it took so that Pam didn’t have to say goodbye to yet another family member.
Blues received life-saving heartworm treatment at a full-service vet where we helped cover a portion of the cost. After three exhausting months of Pam staying up with her to make sure she made it through the night, her treatment finally ended in August of 2019.
“She’s been through a lot,” she said. “They say they go through depression, so I sat and massaged her from her toes to her tail.”
This wasn’t the only time Pam thought she was going to lose her best friend. Blues has also had a couple strokes, and we recently saw her in our clinic for severe, bloody diarrhea and other symptoms that raised a red flag for possible parasites; she couldn’t afford to go to an emergency vet, so we offered to examine her to see if we could help.
Her fecal exam came back negative, so we’re assisting Pam with the cost of getting further testing done at another full-service vet through our special medical program. We also gave her a bag of prescription food for digestion to see if that helps in the meantime. So far, there hasn’t been a clear diagnosis, but her symptoms seem to be improving with the help of antibiotics.
The most important thing, however, is that Blue is still in her mom’s life.
“I would be in depression [if I didn’t have Blues] … she’s my family,” Pam said. “I have another daughter, and I have new grandbabies, but Blues is with me all the time.”
Blues is her comfort. Her protector. The light at the end of every dark tunnel.
“I’d be lost without my dog,” she told us, and through a stream of tears, carried on. “[Your help] means the world. It means everything to me.”
The love Pam has for Blues is what saved her life. And Blues’ loyalty is what saved Pam. This, friends, is exactly why we do what we do, and we’re grateful to have played a small role.