Miley was found as an extremely emaciated stray boxer in southern Georgia. She was so thin that even just before giving birth, no one had any idea that she was pregnant with seven puppies. This is a letter from her foster mom. Miley was humanely euthanized on May 8 due to advanced lymphoma.
Itís hard to imagine what was going through Mileyís head the first time I clicked her collar around her neck and led her by leash to my car. Though she didnít seem to mind my attention, she certainly wasnít excited about climbing into the front seat of my vehicle. After assisting her into the seat, I began the drive home, believing that she had slipped through the clutches of a harsh life on the street and into the safety of my home and my life.
Miley was timid; she trusted no one. Whenever a stranger appeared at the door, she cowered under the kitchen table. If anyone raised his voice or made an unexpected noise, she flinched. She lived in constant anticipation of a harsh hand. Despite the fact that her first human family failed her terribly, she craved the love and affection of her new one. Like all Boxers, she wanted to be a lap dog. Our first evening together was spent with the two of us piled into the rocking chair.
Her first visit to the vet revealed that she was approximately two years old, was heartworm positive, had intestinal parasites, multiple broken teeth, and was 15 to 20 pounds underweight. The vet later explained that the damage to her teeth was likely caused by a life of confinement in which she probably tried to chew her way to escape. In addition to this, her white blood cell count was high and she had some type of infection for which the vet prescribed an antibiotic. Less than a week later, she was back at the vetís office, this time for a mysterious bite on her hind leg believed to be caused by a spider. She spent four nights on an antibiotic drip with the vet before coming home. Her physical appearance was pitiful, but clearly this dog had a spirit and will to live that would not be defeated.
Miley had been in my home for a month when her biggest surprise was revealed: seven puppies. The vet was as shocked as I that she could carry puppies in her weakened condition. He told me that with a litter that large, it was not uncommon for one or more of the pups to be sickly and eventually neglected by the mother. In addition to this news, I learned that Miley should not have been vaccinated during her pregnancy. She was so malnourished and emaciated that it never occurred to me or to the vet that she might be carrying puppies.
Miley beat the odds again, this time with her puppies. Not only did all seven survive, they thrived. Even when clearly exhausted, she was always attentive to their needs. Though having eight dogs in one house was trying at times, in six short weeks, it was time to separate puppies from mother. The litter was sent to a foster home so that they could acclimate to life without Miley before being separated from each other.
It was during the last few days with the puppies that I began to realize that Mileyís health was beginning to decline. Impossibly, she was losing weight despite being given a healthy diet for two months. An appointment was made with the vet. New blood work would be done. Quite likely, nursing seven puppies had exhausted her. That evening as I swept the back patio, Miley, as always, was my company. She was happy that night. It occurred to me that it was the first time since I had known her to be happy. I believe that Miley was realizing that she was worthy of being loved. In all the ways humans had failed her, neglecting to teach her this was their biggest failure of all. She wagged her tail as she followed me around the yard. Many times, she stood up, putting her paws on my waist and letting me rub her head. When I was finished cleaning the patio, I sat on the back step with Miley beside me. With having a full-time job and two small children, this was not something I had really taken the time to do before then. But that night, Miley and I sat together for some time with not even enough room for our shadows in-between us. That was Mileyís last night.
Thursday morning, she couldnít walk well. I naively hoped she had slept the wrong way and would be able to walk it off. When she refused her breakfast, I knew something was wrong. Instead of eating, she lied down behind the banana tree, the same tree where her puppies were born. Something inside of me knew that there was nothing more to be done. Though her spirit could champion over her cruel past, her body could not. Miley was put to sleep that evening. The vet said she had cancer and in her physical state, could not tolerate the treatment. There was no other choice. I think Miley knew her responsibility to her puppies was over and just wanted to go to sleep.
Mileyís blanket is still where she slept, and her bowls are still behind the banana tree where I placed them that last day. In the next few days, Iíll put them away, but right now, itís just too soon. Itís hard to write this, but I donít have any regrets. Iím glad Mileyís puppies have a chance at living the kind of life that she deserved. Iím glad that if she had to die, she could do so peacefully and not scared and alone. Most of all, Iím glad that this gentle creature got a chance to experience what all dogs should experience: the knowledge that her presence brought joy into the lives of those who loved her. -Miley's foster mom, Jennifer.
Miley sends boxer kisses to Mick and Sassy Morrison for sponsoring her. [Back]
- Greater Jacksonville Area