Addie was a beautiful black flat coated retreiver mix we got when my chocolate lab/golden mix Mocha was diagnosed with Mast cell cancer in 2013. When I knew Mocha was sick and didn’t know how long she might have, the idea was that having another dog to come home to would help me deal with the loss of Mocha. I gave Mocha K9 Immunity Factor and she lasted almost another two years until she was miserable and I had to let go. Addie came to us through a search with Petfinders.com. We got her just from her picture and description of her foster mom, without even meeting her. She came from a foster environment of 7 dogs and 10 cats. She adjusted well and let Mocha be the alpha dog. Initially she didn’t listen to me well. I did that thing I saw in a movie once, and I bit her ear to let her know I was the Alpha dog. It worked, and she was a very good girl after that. She was also very clever. She could use her paw as a hand in a way I’ve never seen another dog do. And when my husband left for work at 3:30 am every morning, she stealthily climbed right into his warm spot on the bed to be there when I awoke. She knew she wasn’t allowed on the bed when he was there, and she climbed in the second he left the room.
Addie had been a wild thing. She had been living on the streets of Addieville, Illinois and almost hit by a truck, when her foster mom rescued her and she had her for two years. She was the sweetest most loving dog ever, probably somewhat insecure, but very smart and very attentive. She was the only dog I ever had who could catch rabbits. I had to dispose of many every year. Even two weeks before I put her down, she killed her last rabbit before I could stop her; she was that fast. When I put down Mocha, I did come home and appreciate and love her up, but I also resented her for not being Mocha. In some ways, while I grieved, I hated her for not being Mocha. Mocha was my dream dog. The two breeds I wish were breeded together more, and the mix I’ve never seen again. But Addie didn’t give up on me. She just kept loving me up, and eventually I fell deeply in love with her. That’s what she taught me. No matter what is going on, if you just keep putting out love, eventually the hardest nut cracks and things change.
In my very early career, before nursing school, I was an activity aide in a nursing home. There was a very mean, cranky old lady there who yelled at you from the minute you walked in her room. I thought, this woman is very miserable. I must find a way to get her to trust me and open up. I spent days and days going into her room and being pleasant no matter how she yelled at me. At the end of the year, I had become able to bring another 5 patients into her room and do music groups in her room and she participated. That was a huge transition for her. I learned something from this.
People and dogs don’t bite unless they’ve been trained to do so and abused. Unconditional love, no matter what, if you’re very patient, can be transforming. Addie reminded me of that important lesson, because I was very bitter and broken without my Mocha. I grew to love Addie. My husband says I took it worse than Mocha, and actually he did as well, even though whenever she did something wrong, she was “my dog” 😉
Life threw me a curve. My plan to have another dog so when I lost Mocha to Mast cell so it wouldn’t hurt so bad didn’t work. A year ago, Addie was diagnosed with Grade 3 Mast cell cancer, a rare and much more virulent form of the disease. My vet said he’d only seen 3 cases of this in 30 years. My heart broke again.
But Addie taught me to never give up on love. Just keep putting it out there to the world. Love is the reason we’re all here, and we all need more of it. Just keep putting out love to the people and beings we wish to have it from. You keep putting it out no matter what happens, and surprising things can happen if you’re patient and never give up on hope. You never know what, when, or how, but if you never give up good things happen. Sadly, she also taught me that there no way to avoid the pain of loss either, we have to be brave enough to go through it, and then be brave enough to love again.