I'd been nagging Tree Guy for a dog for quite a while. Finally
The SPCA was one of the first places I looked. I asked the adoption coordinator there which dogs she'd recommend for a family with a young child. She led me to the "big dog run." It was really loud and crowded. Dogs were barking and lunging at the fence. The adoption coordinator said that at about 40 pounds, Raven didn't really belong in the big dog run, but that they'd run out of room in the smaller dog area.
With all the noise and chaos in there, I didn't really get to interact with Raven. I'd just started my search, and I didn't want to make an impulsive decision, so I left without Raven that day.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, she's a lady.
After a couple months of searching, I came back to the SPCA. The adoption coordinator wasn't available this time, so I asked the kennel worker for her recommendations. She brought out Raven! The kennel worker told me that Raven had been at the shelter for 9 months, and that no one could believe she hadn't already been adopted. Raven was so people-friendly that she was part of a therapy dog program for the elderly living in nursing homes. This time I was able to interact with Raven one-on-one, and I saw how sweet she is. The shelter employee said she believed that Raven had been at the shelter for so long because she was "a black dog in a sea of black dogs." She told me about Black Dog Syndrome.
Raven was 15 months old, with a beautiful, shiny, velvety coat and a bobtail. Nature Boy loved her immediately, and she loved him right back. We applied to adopt her that day, and we brought her home a couple days later. She fit right in.
Raven's been a part of our family for 8 1/2 years now. We couldn't ask for a better dog. Her muzzle is starting to gray, she's got a couple white whiskers (who doesn't?), and she's not really a fan of puppies, but she's still a gentle, tolerant lover of children, a cuddly foot warmer, a tug-o-war champion, an expert tennis ball catcher, our designated fly hunter, and my shadow. She's still pretty active for an almost 10 year old dog.
Which is why her current illness is such a shock to me. She's been at the vet hospital getting IV fluids and medicine since yesterday. She hasn't been able to keep any food or much water down since Thursday night. The veterinarian did blood work a few days ago, and we discovered that her kidney function isn't where it's supposed to be, and her liver enzymes are more than 20 times the acceptable level. And we don't know why.
Raven has always been the picture of health. A beautiful, black, shiny bundle of love. It hurts me to see her sick.
I am scared.
I pray that we find out what's wrong and that there is an effective treatment for her. That she is able to live many, many more healthy, happy years with us. I find myself wishing that God had given dogs the same life span He gave us. They are such good and loyal companions--such examples of loving unconditionally.