Ferguson (left) and Marley (right)
Ferguson came into our lives on February 14, 2009. At the time, I was living with my Samoyed/Chow mix, Marley, in Lexington, Virginia and finishing up my final year of law school. Amy (at the time my girlfriend, and now my wife) was finishing her legal education at Northwestern, and we were looking forward to starting our lives together in Chicago that summer. As part of our Valentine’s Day together, I suggested that we head to the local humane society and take a few of the dogs out for walks in the nice weather. I had volunteered time giving such walks in college, and Amy and I had made it a habit during her frequent visits to Virginia. Little did I know that Ferg’s charming face and disarmingly loving demeanor would change our lives that day.
As I strolled through the humane society looking at all of the dogs and deciding which to take out on walks, I realized that Amy was no longer progressing from cage to cage. When I turned around, I saw her kneeling down with both hands wrenched through the fence so that she could pet the silent dog on the other side. Her face evidenced an understanding that she and this pup were simply meant to be family.
Before long, she had convinced me to take this old, scraggly pit bull mix out on a walk. Only a few minutes later, she was filling out adoption paperwork. While I was overwhelmed by the prospect of adding another dog to our family, there was no denying the fact that Amy and Ferguson immediately shared a unique and powerful bond. Plus, Marley loved him. She fell for him right away, and it was obvious that he was the perfect addition to our family. Only a few weeks prior, this dog had been found wandering the Blue Ridge Mountains as a stray. Now, he had strolled his way right into our hearts.
Over the years, Ferg has certainly kept us on our toes. During his first visit to the vet after his adoption, we found out he needed to have an ear polyp removed. Since then, we’ve adjusted to his separation anxiety, allergies, arthritis, kidney problems, and a myriad of other health issues. All were eventually overcome through love, patience, and Ferg’s unflappable happiness. But nothing could have prepared us for what we woke up to this past October 30.
For a few weeks, Ferguson had been showing some increased difficulty due to his arthritis. Every so often, he would need to be carried up the stairs or walked a little more slowly than usual. He’d even have accidents in the house every once in a while. Everyone we consulted was sure this was simply due to the fact that he was somewhere between 10 and 12 years old. We continued his medication regimen and prayed for the best.
On the morning of October 30, however, we woke up in a nightmare. As I got out of bed that morning and prepared to take the dogs for their morning walk, it became painfully apparent that Ferguson had lost all control of his back legs. He couldn’t stand, he couldn’t walk, and he looked terrified. We immediately called our wonderful veterinarian, and she saw Ferguson that very morning. The news was not good.
We were told that Ferguson needed an MRI as soon as possible. Since the closest animal hospital’s MRI machine was down, we put Ferguson in the car and drove him out to the suburbs. Once Ferg’s MRI results were read, we received the bad news. Spinal surgery was likely needed. The doctor wanted to observe Ferguson overnight, however, so we left him in their capable hands and went home to weigh our options. The next morning, we decided to bring Ferguson closer to home and get a second opinion from the surgeon originally recommended by our vet. He confirmed the previous day’s diagnosis and recommended surgery be done that afternoon. After hearing the risks and costs associated with the surgery, we struggled to keep our emotions in check while trying to come to the best decision for Ferg. We considered his age and prognosis, but we eventually decided that we simply had to give him every chance possible to walk again. We gave the go-ahead for surgery.
*Part 2 of Ferguson’s journey will appear tomorrow*
~ Written by Ferguson’s owner, Noah Lauricella
Tags: dog human bond, personal story