I never thought I would see the day. Ever. The day when two dogs were living in my house. I would have told you I had a better chance of owning an alligator than owning another dog. After all, I'm not really a dog person to begin with. Then again, I guess I can't say that anymore now, can I? Another dog was never even a consideration. Luna, it's been well documented, is my soul mate. How could I ever do that to her? Then I saw his face...
The best things in life come when you least expect them. They often only come if you take a chance. And they come for a reason you can't truly explain until life throws you a curveball and it becomes crystal clear. For it is without expectation or explanation, and with total spontaneity, that we adopted a one-eyed ten year-old shih tzu who is also a recent cancer survivor.
If you'd asked me why at the time, I would simply say, "Why not?" Sometimes that's the best answer. As a shih tzu
Why not? Why wouldn't we adopt this adorable, ridiculous, treasure-sniffing scalawag who is one part Chris Farley and one part Dug from Up all at once? Fat guy in a little coat chasing a squirrel then hiding under the porch because he loves me.
Peanut's been all for it since the beginning. From the moment we decided to adopt him, she's made her best effort to get him to sleep in her room. And now he does. She calls him the "best puppy ever," like I call Luna. I'd be lying if I said that doesn't upset me. Luna is our first baby. So I'm very protective of her. But as My Director put it, Matey is truly Peanut's first dog. We chose Luna. She chose Matey.
|Embracing Matey's defining characteristic.|
I was amazed at how easy-going and relaxed Matey was in this potentially stressful situation. All kinds of people, cameras, lights, and this dog with one eye was just laying in his handler's arms. Chillaxin. He didn't give a sh!t that he only had one eye. He was still gettin' it done. He inspired me.
The second I returned to my desk after the show, I called My Director. You could imagine her surprise when my first words were, "I met a one-eyed shih tzu this morning and I think we should adopt him." In Matey I saw hope. I saw someone who's overcome obstacles. It wasn't until a later phone call with the shelter that we found out he also had cancer, and that his owners were going to put him down. If not for a neighbor who took him to the shelter instead and a vet who performed the surgery for free, this whole adventure never would have happened. That made me love him and want him even more. Matey is a symbol of perseverance in the face of adversity. Little did I know that his perseverance would serve a greater purpose...
A little more than 48 hours after Matey was finally home with us, I had to take Luna to the emergency vet. It was a Sunday night. The doctor took an x-ray to check for what she believed were bladder stones. She found the stones AND a tumor attached to Luna's spleen. I sat behind the reception desk on the phone with Luna's vet, sobbing and dry heaving with worry. Here I thought she was just going to need antibiotics. Turns out she needed a complicated double surgery to remove both problems, which had nothing to do with each other. We didn't know what the tumor was or what else it might be attached to. I thought our days with Luna were numbered. The simple act of writing those words make my heart ache and eyes swell.
|Luna during recovery. She milked it.|
Over the nerve-racking week and a half that followed, Matey was a constant source of comic relief. He's 10 years-old. So I can attest to the adage about not teaching an old dog new tricks. This dog does not listen to a word I say. But he's still impossible not to love. I call him Chris Farley because he's such a mess. He's all over the place. A bull in a china shop. I took him to a mom-and-pop pet store in town as Luna was undergoing some tests one day. I wanted him to taste test some treats because he was rejecting the ones Luna likes. Not only did he reject every treat the store owner tried to give him, he proceeded to take a gigantic crap on her floor the minute I turned my back on him. Now I'm obligated to buy a bag of treats from this woman - treats that I know my dog won't eat - because my frat guy of a dog just took a dump on her carpet. Chris. Farley.
Matey also gave us faith. If a dog can make it this far with one eye, cancer, and no home, then we thought Luna had more than a fighter's chance. A week and a half after her surgery, Luna is pretty much back to normal. Her tumor biopsy came back benign. Thank God. A little tumor that cost us a lot of worry and a lot of money. (Luna is covered with pet insurance. She is, after all, a boutique dog. So that will cushion some of the blow from her surgery. It's obnoxiously expensive. They won't cover Matey for his pre-existing condition. Sounds like people insurance.)
|There IS a hierarchy.|
(Matey got a much-needed haircut.
He was gross.)
Luna looks at him with displeasure, disappointment, and disgust as if to say, "Have some respect for yourself." She glares at him in disbelief that such a slob could be the same species, let alone the same breed as she. She's royalty and he's a joker. She's David Spade to his Chris Farley. They are an amazingly unintentionally entertaining comedy team.
I never thought I'd be the owner of two dogs. Now I couldn't imagine living without either of them. For a few days, we had to imagine our life without Luna. It was so very sad and empty. But she's back and better, living in our shih tzu sanctuary. Little do they know these two shih tzus ARE sanctuary.
Thank you to everyone at the Humane Society of New York for taking care of Matey, and helping us find him. If you would like to donate time, supplies, or money, or adopt a dog, visit their website HERE.