Becky asked me if we would raise one of the dogs and I agreed. My husband Arthur took a trip to the dogs’ temporary shelter. She agreed that we would raise “Whisper”, a beautiful black and tan malamute, until a permanent home could be found for her. Very soon a strong bond began to form between Arthur and Whisper, and I was certain that this dog was destined to be a part of our family.
The story has a sad ending because Whisper did not survive. Extreme efforts were made to save her. Unknown to us and the many doctors who lovingly cared for her in recent weeks, Whisper’s beautiful spirit was compensating for a body that stood no chance. Every time my thoughts turned to the events of those weeks between his rescue and his death, I asked myself the same questions. Why did this innocent creature have to suffer so much pain? Why did Arthur glimpse such a special relationship only to be fooled out of its fulfillment? And why did so many veterinary and rescue professionals selflessly dedicate themselves to this besieged dog among so many?
The decision to provide a home for Whisper was a glimpse of the extraordinary pain and suffering that exists in the world, a lesson in the goodness of humanity, and another reminder of our purpose as human beings.
As I tried to make sense of the suffering of such an innocent creature, here are the thoughts that surfaced.
You don’t have to tune in to the Middle East news to witness pain and suffering, hatred and evil. Live in our backyards and within us. My family and many of our friends recently witnessed an example of this darkness.
How deep of personal pain can humans abuse innocent animals? The little I know of the owner of Whisper’s puppy mill includes her addiction to cocaine and heroin. It was clearly a woman in pain, inflicting pain on defenseless creatures. I wonder if animals come to absorb negativity, absorbing energy to maintain balance. There are many examples of animals that have the same cancers and other diseases as their owners; Maybe this is just another example of the unconditional love that animals show. Perhaps some of them, like Whisper, come into this life to keep their balance, absorbing pain, anger, despair, any negativity, until it manifests physically and they can no longer live. Whisper’s amazing grace is that at least, in the last weeks of his life, he caught a glimpse of the tremendous love that also exists in humanity today. Perhaps she was a messenger, sent here to read how we are. If so, you have very positive news to report.
Whisper had been living in what we came to call “Porsche Cave”, a shelter that Arthur built for her in our outdoor patio using her car cover. She came to our house terrified and did not want to enter. She seemed comfortable in La Cueva on warm blankets, and she came out alone to eat, which she did with enthusiasm when she was left alone. After nearly two weeks of this living arrangement, with little progress in socializing each day, Whisper stopped eating. On New Years Eve, our neighbor, veterinarian Dan Pirotte, answered my call for help. We were able to “catch” Whisper so he could examine her, and she concluded that she needed medical attention and an X-ray as she could feel something on her abdomen.
We tied up a very scared Whisper and took her to the Pima North Animal Hospital, where my friend Dr. Deb Sharrer was still working that holiday eve. To everyone’s surprise, the X-ray revealed two cubs, just a week after birth.
After our initial concern that Whisper would give birth in her frail and frightened condition, we began making plans for the puppies. Arthur and I emptied a room in our house and brought Whisper … he could no longer choose to hide in his Porsche Cave. We would make sure you get the care you need.
The outpouring of aid was enormous. Dr. Sharrer and Pima North donated time and diagnostic tests without a second thought. Dr. Sharrer made trips to our home to check on Whisper over the holidays and nights, without compensation, but in the hope that Whisper would regain his strength.
He was in the middle of a busy travel schedule and he knew that Arthur would probably be available and only when the puppies arrived. Pretty soon we had a two-page call list asking Arthur for help when Whisper’s puppies arrived. Many people were willing to help and did.
Visiting friends who lived out of town gave them time and medical attention. My friend Jakki, who was a veterinary technician but in the ninth month of her own difficult and risky pregnancy, rushed to our house to administer fluids one day when Whisper seemed dehydrated. Our neighbor and friend, Dita Couch, helped Arthur force-feed Whisper every day. When the puppies finally arrived, her husband, Dr. Lonnie Couch, an emergency room physician, helped Arthur deliver until Dr. Sharrer was able to get to our home. Even with this human and veterinary medical care, the puppies could not be saved, presumably due to Whisper’s weakened and malnourished condition. In one of Whisper’s many broken hearts, Arthur, Lonnie, and Deb had to remove the dead puppies from him. She struggled to endure as any good mother would.
After the cubs were born, something was still not right with Whisper. She was eventually hospitalized and had every imaginable test done to find the cause of her upset stomach. No time or money was saved, and Whisper baffled his doctors.
Then it started to improve, progress was being made, or so we thought. She began to eat and seemed to be relaxed. Meanwhile, Whisper had started bonding with our family and we were falling in love, imagining a life with her in our home. And the feeling was becoming mutual. This bitch who had terrified us walked alongside Arthur without taking her eyes off his, and lay at my feet in my office.
Whisper’s improvement was short-lived and was followed by twenty-four hours of emergency care that had a tragic end. A team of emergency care vets could not find the cause of Whisper’s distress until emergency surgery revealed a perforated intestine, the damage too advanced and extensive for her to survive a normal life.
However, there was a moment of grace just before this surgery, when Arthur was able to spend time with Whisper. She felt fine after a blood transfusion and she was radiant. There is no doubt that she knew that Arthur loved her, that everyone at the emergency clinic was working to help her, and that human beings can have great compassion for animals. Imagine the polarity this dog experienced in its short life. The horror of a ghastly puppy mill where she was abandoned and housed with dead dogs contrasts with the love and care of a family and doctors who honored her worth.
I believe that love and compassion prevail. I couldn’t face every day on this earth if I didn’t know it with all my heart and soul. Whisper was an angel sent to read the scale and it is my hopeful conviction that he came to the conclusion that the positive side still influences humanity. Arthur, our friends, and all the veterinary professionals who attended Whisper made a very special contribution to this loving and selfless experience. The process of loving and caring for Whisper was not in vain. In fact, it was a reminder of why we are here on this earth, a reminder of who we really are, and a reminder of the incredible capacity of human beings for compassion and love.
Many people do not know that the puppies that are bought in pet stores come from these puppy mills and that they are usually products of the suffering of mothers like Whisper. They do not know that their purchase continues this deplorable business practice. If you want to add a pet to your family, adopt.
A Whisper of love, alone here and gone …Don’t miss the Whispers … they remind us who we are.