This is a guest post by Jason Benoit. A writer and a producer, He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Kc, their three dogs Dallas, Courage, and Ripley, and Bronx the cat.
I have the most adorable Corgi-Shepherd mix. His name is Dallas. And he’s the best dog I’ve ever had. Which means you can’t tell the other two dogs I currently have. They’ll get jealous, they’ll start fighting, it’ll become a whole ordeal.
But Dallas was never supposed to end up with me. Or… he was. Depending on how you look at it.
You see, I was about 24 and desperately wanted another dog. In college, I had rescued this German Shepherd mixed mutt from the local pound in Tallahassee, Florida. That dog was smart as a whip, used to put your finger in its mouth like it was holding your hand while walking. Great dog. Could leave a bag of trash out and he wouldn’t dare touch it. Sat on the couch like a person next to you and watched TV. Even pushing 90 pounds and taking up most of the bed, I loved that dog.
But then I graduated college and was set to move to Los Angeles to take a job working 12 to 14 hours a day and living in a tiny apartment in a whole new city. It pained me greatly, and still does, but I knew taking him with me was not in the best interest of Max. There was a gentleman in town with 3 acres of land who had just recently lost one of his two dogs (same breed, look, demeanor) to health issues and was finally looking to adopt a companion again. I made the very difficult choice, but the choice that was for the best of Max, to let him live, love, and roam the plains of Florida.
Fast forward a number of years and I’m in a much more stable job, with more reasonable hours, and I’ve gotten a house with a large backyard. It was time to go looking again. I was excited. I’m a total dog person. My roommate at the time, she and I both wanted to adopt. We spent weeks looking. Searching the shelters. And then we heard about an adoption event in San Bernardino. We got up early on a Saturday morning and drove out to a Petco where the local shelter was having an adoption event. The moment I laid eyes on Dallas I knew he was my dude. I thought I was for sure going to be bringing home another large breed dog. I was excited for it. My roommate, on the other hand, adopted what she thought was going to be a medium to small-ish sized dog. Turns out Dallas ended up being a corgi-mix topping out at a chunky 35-pounds of squishy love while her dog ended up being the 75+ pound behemoth. Funny how that works out.
So, they neuter Dallas and we take him and my roommates’ dog, Friday, home. It’s all the typical puppy stuff. Up all hours of the night to take him outside. Crate training. You’ve all been there. And then… about two weeks in, I come home from work and Dallas doesn’t look so good. He’s standoffish, lethargic, and he’s puking up some stuff, and there’s just this very blank look in his eyes. I could instantly tell something wasn’t quite right. I Google an emergency vet and rush him down to the office late at night. The vet looks him over, does some tests, and comes back to tell me the unfortunate news. He has parvo.
Now, if you are unaware of what parvo is, it’s a really horrible, horrible disease that dogs can get. Most in young dogs and puppies. And worse, it is HIGHLY contagious. Here’s this dog who I’ve bonded with and given a name and made a home for… and the vet tells me that the treatment is going to cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. Maybe I’m the horrible pet owner who should’ve taken this into account. But I wasn’t at the time. I was a 20-something who was prepared for all the normal realities of having a dog. It wasn’t my first time. What I wasn’t prepared for is a dog I’ve had barely 2 weeks getting incredibly ill to the point that the vet told me that even with treatment it was maybe a 50-50 shot the dog even survives the week. Frankly, and truthfully, I couldn’t afford it. I mean I’ve barely had this dog and he’s already given a death sentence. The vet said, “Well, we need you to sign these papers stating that you consent to him being put down.”
I felt horrible. Maybe about as horrible as I’ve ever felt.
I waited in that exam room by myself until they brought in a stack of papers. Said sign here. And I did. Then they left me alone a minute to say goodbye to Dallas. I had literally signed over his death certificate.
And then… a nurse came by. I don’t remember his name or what he looked like, but he poked his head inside my room and said to me, “Hey, I know this vet in Van Nuys who’ll do everything for a flat fee of $600. Can you afford that?” I said I would try. He gave me no guarantees. Gave me an address and said they open at 9am.
I stayed up the rest of the night with Dallas then drove him to Van Nuys and waited outside for an hour before the doors opened. And then, I left him there. They said they’d be in touch and keep me updated. I called three times a day, mostly waiting to hear that he wasn’t going to make it.
But he did. Because, like I said, he’s the best dude. He was a fighter. And within a week he was healthy enough to come home. I can tell you now that in the 10 years I’ve had Dallas, I would’ve paid everything I had to save his life and it would’ve been worth it tenfold. Because he’s my dude. He’s been my constant.