Cookie, Beloved Rescued Corgi
The following is written by Millie Williams. Millie is the author of The Watching, a beautifully illustrated book about corgis and Christmas.
Cookie came into foster care in December, 2010, from a home with elderly owners who could no longer lift her due to their advanced ages. When Sue, the transporter, picked her up and drove her partway to me, she said “She’s going down in the back”. What I saw when she let Cookie out of her van was an elderly corgi who was having trouble walking. There was some pain which we were able to relieve with aspirin, but she had that gait that is so common in dogs with DM, too.
I knew little about Cookie’s background except that she had wandered into the owners’ yard, lost, and they had kept her. They estimated her age at about 11, I thought it was more like 13 or 14, based on the white on her face, her teeth and her general condition. The owners had loved her but realized that it was going to be too much for them to care for her. She seemed happy and interested in everything that went on at our home.
Cookie was the sweetest of the Sweet. I aspire to breed temperaments as lovely as hers was. My corgis would walk by and say something about “Yo momma” and she would just look at them very mildly and say “What a nice day it is!” A true Southern Belle! On the other hand, she was just an ordinary corgi in looks. But what is inside is the most important and Cookie brought that lesson home to me more than once.
Within 3 weeks, she was having trouble getting up, keeping her balance and walking at all. Most of the time, she just seal walked but then after a week or two, got up and walked a few steps now and then for another week. This time when she went down, she never got up again.
In years past, we also had a lovely girl named Isabelle who had destroyed her back leaping off the porch for several years and so we knew what was to come. Although I had sworn that I would not go through this again, one look into Cookie’s gentle eyes told me she had a zest for living and was not ready to leave us just yet. So we fitted her for diapers, shaved her rear, dug out the double sided fleecy blankets and found her a non tip water bowl. And Cookie did love that bowl! It had Velcro on the bottom so it wouldn’t scoot away from her on the fleecy if she wanted a drink.
Caring for a dog with a back injury or DM is mostly a matter of management and prevention. Managing the diet, whatever therapy you can give to them and time; prevention of sores from lying on one side too long or dragging themselves, keeping bottoms clean of waste so that sores don’t begin there, keeping the dog’s mind occupied and busy. Cookie was easily entertained, she liked rolled pork skin with sweet potato on the inside and she liked to be petted. One thing people do forget with these dogs is the need to scratch them all over when their little back legs cannot scratch their faces, ears, head, neck, and they lack the ability to lie on their backs and scratch themselves this way.
Cookie enjoyed being in the yard with the other corgis, watching the chickens and guineas, scooting merrily about and sniffing everything. She liked to be talked to, enjoyed her meals and watched the litter of corgi pups grow up. Watching TV at night was the best because my husband and I were both “there” all the time with her.
Over the next few months, we sadly saw Cookie deteriorate. And I played the “Line in the Sand” game. It was first that I would not care for a dog (that was not of my breeding) if it went down. Then it was when she had to go in a diaper. I just wasn’t going that far. Then the line got moved again. This happened several times because I dearly loved this little soul that God had sent to me to care for. She was happy, grateful for everything we did for her and she asked for so little. The only good thing about this condition is that one will build an incredible relationship with that animal, and I did.
Finally the day came where I had to admit defeat. I came home from work and Cookie had gotten part way off her fleecy, her rear legs were twisted under her in a very uncomfortable fashion and she looked miserable. Although I realized that I could fix her positioning, I knew that this would happen again and again. And she had started to lie on her side and unable to right herself to get a drink. It was unthinkable that the Line had finally appeared but I could not keep her comfortable if I had to go to work each day. I couldn’t take her to the vet. I asked Jerry if he could and although it nearly killed him, he spared me the last devastating tears that I would have shed. I shed them anyway, but the wound was not so deep.
And how we still miss her… I am misting up as I am writing this story. She brought to my life so many things, yet asked for little. She needed the care and the help, but she was not a demanding dog at all. I found it no trouble at all to help a sweet being that needed some extra help.
God bless you, Cookie. I will miss you always.