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Words don't come easily now, dear Chico -- but know you are very loved...

 


July, 2006

Here is the celebration of the life of Chico, a partially-paralyzed pit bull I helped get to a better life almost three years ago.

When I got the news of his passing a few months back, I was really upset, and I procrastinated writing this memorial for him till now, since it was going to be difficult.

He was the most happy, loving, forgiving boy, and he never let his paralysis get in his way for a moment, instead seizing every second as special, and loving those around him.

Below is the email I received -- Chico was renamed Rocco at Home for Life --

 

Dear Friends and sponsors of Rocco:

It is with deep sadness that I must report the passing of our beloved Rocco at the end of December, 2005. This early fall, Rocco has developed a urinary tract infection that was successfully treated. However, in early November 2005, he suddenly became very sick, losing his appetite, going blind and becoming very weak. We rushed him to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Rocco had become very septic as the infection had recurred and invaded his bladder and kidneys.

The veterinarians did not believe he would last the night, but tried their best to save him, and to our great happiness and the vets' surprise, he rallied and did pull through with flying colors! He spent nearly 4 days in the ICU as the infection was treated and was discharged at the end of the week on antibiotics and using a urinary catheter up to 6 x a day. 

Rocco was happy to be home and his roommate, Meesha the husky was overjoyed to see him again. For three weeks, the staff diligently and faithfully cared for Rocco, voiding his bladder using the catheter and observing strict hygiene procedures so as to avoid another infection.

His bladder wall appeared to show a mass on the x-rays and ultrasound, but nothing could be done in terms of surgical intervention while he was so fragile.

At the end of  2 and a half weeks, Rocco seemed as good as new - as active as ever, eating and able to urinate on his own. The blood in his urine, indicating infection was totally gone.

Within a few weeks, he suddenly stopped producing much urine, then stopped producing any at all. He also stopped eating and seemed very lethargic again. We once again brought him to the vet where we learned though blood tests that his kidneys had totally shut down. We tried last measures to get the kidneys functioning again -  iv fluids and antibiotics, but this time, the treatments were of no avail.

With profound sadness, we decided to let Rocco go and be at peace. He died quietly and peacefully in the arms of one of our staff members, Jeannie Schwartz. Jeannie said he seemed incredibly tired and was done fighting. He had had enough.

It is still incredibly hard to realize that Rocco is gone. I did not fully realize that I would never see him again until his box of ashes were returned to us. He had so much energy and joie de vivre and never let his paralysis slow him down for a second.

Those Eddie's Wheel's carts, like mountain bikes for dogs, were made for our Rocco! We will never forget his beautiful dark eyes against the white face with freckles, his mischevious smile, his irrepressible energy and his joyful spirit.

We thank you for your sponsorship of Rocco; your support made it possible for us to give him nearly 3 wonderful years at Home for Life. It was our privilege to know Rocco and care for him during this time.

No dog will ever replace Rocco. Yet all of our animals at Home for Life are special in thier own way. If you will consider continuing your sponsorship of another Home for Life dog in Rocco's memory, may we suggest Hal or Redmond, two of our pitbulls who suffered terrible neglect and abuse before coming to Home for Life or Ashley, a paraplegiac puppy who became paralyzed when a man stomped on her, breaking her back, when she was just 3 months old. The stories of all three of these dogs are on our website at www.homeforlife.org . Please let us know if your sponsorship can be transferred to one of these special dogs in Rocco's memory. 

If you have any questions about Rocco, please feel free to contact me.     

Thank you again,

Sincerely

Lisa LaVerdiere
Executive Director


 


 

And now, Chico's story of ascent...

September, 2003

Here's little Chico, the pit bull mix whose prior foster let him run freely on the streets of Long Island, causing him to get hit by a truck, resulting in his lower paralysis and incontinence. Thereafter, Chico's foster kept him in the corner of the basement at night, alone, to deficate and urinate on himself.

During the day, the foster let Chico run the same Long Island streets (now in a wheel-chair), with another accident waiting to occur. This all happened when Chico was 6 mos. to 1 year old.


The last straw was when Chico's fosterer wanted to "help" new animals, but couldn't place Chico -- so he announced Chico would be killed at the vet within a week if he couldn't be placed.

Here's Chico enjoying playtime with Ruby.


D., from Long Island, comes to Chico's rescue, and he is transported from Long Island to Connecticut, where he is fostered for a week and arranged to go to a forever-home animal sanctuary in Wisconsin.

Chico's home will be at Home for Life (homeforlife.org), where he will never be mistreated or dumped for his incontinence or handicap.

HFL will have an MRI and appropriate surgery conducted on Chico, as well as the necessary physio- and herbal- therapy to optimize his quality of life.


And here begins our journey -- to get Chico from Connecticut to western Wisconsin, 1,200 miles away, in two days, considering he is incontinent and the heat of the late-summer in a no AC car.

Our cast of characters includes Spud and Precious, Spud with the spot on his left eye...

... and me, Eric...

... and my friend, Matt...

... and Chico's wheelchair...

... and finally, my 1991 Honda Civic, with 180,000 miles on it, two dog crates inside, a wheel-chair on top, 3 CDs, no AC, power steering, or cruise control...

Chico says goodbye to his foster momma, Allison...

And the three are loaded up and ready to go... eyes glowing!!

Leg 1 - Friday night - Spud, Precious, Chico and I travel 140 miles from Stamford to Lafayette Hill, PA to pick up our driving companion, Matt.

Spud quickly loses his front-seat digs when Matt settles in...

Leg 2 - Friday night - With Matt in tow, we begin our journey from PA to Wisconsin, of 1,150 miles and 25 hours driving.

Spud and Chico make due in the back of the Civic, with minimal growling (or peeing!) towards each other!

As Matt sleeps...

... I run out of gas, in South Bend, Indiana --

-- Spud takes advantage of the break for a raw meal...

... and Precious and Chico saunter the pasture...

... Precious is distracted from her lunch...

... to find the AAA emergency helper hand-delivering the gas...

... and within no time, we're back on the road... with naps in order...

... Chico follows suite...

... and we enter Wisconsin at nightfall...

... and pull up the drive of Home for Life... a sanctuary that is exclusive to animals that were slated for euthanasia due to their debilitative conditions...

We enter the sanctuary, to be greeted by Redmond (the pit), Allie (the GSD/greyhound mix) and Newmann (the long-haired dobie)...

Redmond notices Chico's one of "his own"... :)

Next pack is Foxie, the Chow, and Guy, the Border Collie...

Here are the little-uns, Hans and Franz, most notably!

Here's Hal, an abused black pit bull...

Hal is dog-aggressive, so he has his own stable, and he gets extensive human interaction...

Chico finally enters the reception area and meets Renee.

These complexes are great -- Wickes barns with tiled walls and tiled (heated) floors, plenty of glass and IMMACULATE!!


Here's Ann, the manager. There's always someone at the sanctuary on duty -- this shift was the night-shift!

Chico eyes the little-uns...

Time for a drink! I was amazed -- every time Chico peed on the floor, it was picked up IMMEDIATELY -- no more rashes, little man!!

Chico enjoys his wheels in his new home, which is open enough to allow his full roaming...

And now it's time for goodbyes....

.... goodbye, sweet Chico -- you can run the grassy hills here, eat all you want, and be a happy, loved dog...

Chico's fortunes certainly changed once he got to Home for Life -- he looks like a new man -- !!

"You often say, 'I would give, but only to the deserving.' The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you."
- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

 

So, there's Chico's story -- and a wonderful experience in my life.

What we did, three years ago, was stop everything for a long-weekend to help this little man --

-- a boy whose life was changed by an irresponsible owner, and a boy who wouldn't let that stop his living.

Chico taught me about seizing the moment, making the best of the situation, and just plain having FUN --

-- he also taught me the reward that could come from helping just one dog.

Patti Jo, another Home for Life employee, summarized it best when she wrote --

Rocco [Chico] was an amazing dog, with a huge heart.  He was everyones favorite.  We had worked so intently on saving the little guy, but in the end, we knew our work was not in vain.  He lived a wonderful life at HFL and I am thankful I met him.  Your slide show was very exciting to watch and very touching.  Maxine was in your show and she also passed away this fall in my arms.  It is great to know there are people out there fighting the animals' fights with us.

Pattie Jo Schachtner

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this boy's life a celebration -- he is eternally thankful.