My Christian faith has taught me that we are to model our own lives around the example of our Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. Love your neighbor and even your enemies as you love yourself. In the face of violence or evil, turn the other cheek. Do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you. In a nutshell, we should be exhibiting unconditional kindness at all times regardless of the circumstances.
Of course, none of us realistically lives up to those expectations, no matter how devout one may endeavor to be. True, it is good to set our goals high, but being human by nature sets us up to inevitably have moments of failure…and many even fail far more often than they succeed. But fret not, as that is about how far I will go with the existential and theological part of my discussion today, as this is an animal themed blog after all. Interestingly, while I have always been acutely aware of these aforementioned sentiments, it was a dog who most recently reminded me of them…one of the most beautiful souls I have had the privilege to meet: Mona, a rescued Pit Bull brought in by Friends for Animals Sanctuary, a wonderful animal rescue group I have recently blogged about.
Mona was found to be heartworm positive at the shelter, so the rescue group knew that an integral component to getting her rehabilitated and a good permanent home was to have her heartworms treated. Mona thus first came to me for a heart worm treatment consultation. I aged Mona to be approximately 3-4 years of age, and as evidenced by her pendulous and scarred mammary glands, she likely was bred repeatedly without respite, whose puppies were likely to be used for sinister purposes. She likely never knew a day of human kindness in her life, yet when I walked in the exam room, she walked up and greeted me like we were old friends. As I bent down to pet her, she put a paw on my knee and gently licked my ear. Mona most certainly had me at hello, but she proved to be even more extraordinary as time went on.
Heart worm treatment, unfortunately requires two deep injections of an arsenic based compound in the lumbar muscle over the back, each administered 24 hours apart on the left and right sides, respectively. The injections themselves are painful, and the soreness afterward even more profound, ever present for 5-7 days post injection despite all of the best pain management we have available. When I come across a case like Mona, a gentle and loving creature despite a lifetime of human mistreatment, giving these injections is heart breaking for me. Just shortly after she has been shown human kindness for the first time in her life, I am about to make her feel pain.
However, the 2 days went by and both injections were given, with barely a whimper from Mona. She greeted me just as affectionately on day two as she did on our original visit; took a treat from my hand and licked my face even after the second injection. She walked out of my hospital after day two wagging her tail. It occurred to me after Mona left, how amazing it is that a creature for which kindness had never come her way for the first several years of her life, to whom it could not be explained that the pain we inflict in the course of her treatment is with the best of intentions for her, could be so gracious, forgiving and unconditionally loving.
In essence, Mona lives her life in the manner that all Christians endeavor but are doomed to at least occasionally fail, yours truly included. That is probably the reason she was abandoned in the first place. There was no trace of violence in her spirit, and likely none in her offspring; so she was callously discarded. Thanks to Friends For Animals Sanctuary, Mona will continue to keep her paw print on this world and in our hearts. Anyone who feels up to the task of providing Mona the forever home she deserves, contact her rescuers at:
Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, FL, Chief Editor of the Veterinary Advice and Information Website, Web-DVM, and founder/CEO of Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care