Having grown up with a family dog as long as I can remember, we always had smaller dogs. When I left home, all I wanted was my own dog, a retriever or a lab. Over time I decided I wanted a pure breed, good papers, good parents, good blood. Not even a year and a half old, my lab developed cancer in his knee. Completely devastated, I now had to make a choice, as it was the worst type of aggressive cancer,  put him to sleep or have his leg removed, knowing the cancer would eventually return. Being a huge dog lover, I could not in my heart put my dog to sleep seeing him happy and playful as ever, so we had his leg removed. And I swear he never missed it. He ran, swam and bounced like any other dog. Unfortunately, we knew it would return and 9 months later on Christmas eve, we discovered it returned. Since losing him, I swore I would only adopt dogs, to me papers and bloodline now mean nothing, there are no guarantees.

So I adopted Liberty...

When the local sheriff's office raided a house that was fighting dogs, Liberty was found nearly dead at 6 weeks old in a pen with Pitt bulls, they were using her to train the dogs to fight. As the police officers were not allowed to do anything with all the dogs, he said he couldn't leave a dieing puppy there so he grabbed her and took her to a shelter (for which I am very grateful). I adopted her right after 9/11 so her name has a double meaning. Now I know everybody has the best dog in the world, but there is not a mean bone anywhere in her, she is the sweetest dog I have ever known.

After losing my first dog so soon in his life, all I asked for is that my dog has a long, fairly healthy life which Liberty has had and hopefully continues to have. But at 9 years old she developed SARDS and again I was devastated. Looking back, she was slowly going blind, acting in ways I didn't understand, slowing down, trouble getting in cars, etc. How can a 9 year old dog survive going blind? All I could see was my baby sitting in a ball in a corner the rest of her life, not sure of anything.... Boy was I wrong!

I could tell she was sad, unsure and not wanting to do much for about a month. After that, it was just a matter of a bit of new training, teaching her to step, to stop and to know where I am as she has always stayed by my side inside and out, room to room. I tried the bells but eventually just started dragging my feet a bit to make noise. It is amazing how much better her hearing and sense of smell has gotten in just a year.

The sad part of it all, probably more for me than her, is that she was very well trained off a leash so I very seldom used one. And she used to love to run. And swim. I live on a lake and we would go to the park and she would run to the point that I was almost out of her sight and then she would come running back. Almost a year later, we have learned to use a leash and use a ramp to get in the car (and in the bed). She had very little trouble getting around the house, padded a few corners and put mats down at the doors and at her food bowl so she knows she's close. I have a fenced in yard with woods, she has mastered a path all around, I don't even watch her outside anymore!

But it's never a dull moment with pets, a month ago she had to have surgery on her leg to remove a mass. Nothing bad, just a fat pocket. Four days from getting the stitches out of her leg, she was bitten by a brown recluse spider, which is an absolute mess. If you have never seen what the bite is like (which I never had), it kills the tissue and skin in a big area. In her case about half her stomach and it takes months to heal.

Things are looking up, several people told me she is lucky to be alive from the bite and once all that heals I promised her we are going swimming!

I still get sad for her, when she bumps something and all the little things she can't do anymore. And just like everyone else, I wonder how such a sweet creature could have something so horrible happen to it.

While at the eye specialist once we knew she was blind, a little elderly lady noticed me upset and we just talked a bit about my dogs problem and her dogs problem. She said something to me that still helps when I get bummed out. She said "As much as you love your dog and as much as your dog loves you, when you start getting sad and thinking how sorry you feel for your dog, I would imagine your dog is thinking how lucky it is to have a Dad like you to take care of it."

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