Vanda, one year in our family

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Am I not even able to look after a dog?”  For a long time, I felt ashamed about what happened to us just a few weeks after we adopted Vanda from the local shelter, but now, I am ready to share her story. I am glad that we all made it through her first year.

It seems we often experience some unfortunate event whenever someone new comes into our family.

When Judith was born, she had a pyloric stenosis. It means that a baby of six weeks old can projectile-vomit her food up to four or five meters. It’s quite a feat for such a tiny baby. Judith needed surgery at the age of six weeks and recovered speedily afterwards, growing 750 grams in one week, although the average is 150 grams for a baby that age.

When Femke joined our family, we discovered the same night that she had a high temperature, too high for a just-born baby. She had streptococcen and needed to go to the emergency room straight after her home birth. She got antibiotics and, thank God, she survived.

A couple of weeks later, she showed the same signs as Judith had, being able to vomit her food four or five meters. We can laugh about it now, but at the time, it was all rather scary. She also had pyloric stenosis, needed surgery at the age of six weeks, and recovered speedily afterwards.

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Let’s say it straight… getting a dog is a different story from getting a baby, and yet, sadly, when Vanda joined our family, she also had an unfortunate event. Vanda was used to the shelter. She had lived for six long years in a few square metres. The first weeks after her adoption, she was extremely anxious and shivering all over her body. One day, on a very cold, snowy day, she managed to break out and ran off and got hit by a car. She broke her leg and was not able to walk anymore or even wag her tail. Diagnosis: half paralyzed.

That was when we got a few new things on our plate. We had decided just five weeks before to take care of this dog. How far does that care go? That same morning, on the worst snowy day of early January 2017, we drove 250 km to Zagreb to see a special doctor for Vanda, surprising ourselves and everyone about what we would do for this dog. And yet, when the time comes, you know or feel how to act and are sure that what you will do is right. Vanda is now, a year later, nearly recovered, but she is still quite an emotionally challenged dog. She is very attached to her pack: our family. When we are away, she hides under the table until the clan is back.

When I walk Vanda now, I see a slightly limping dog who is able to run and still getting better, slowly and very slowly. It was a long journey of recovering, and yet, we love her so very much. We are glad that we have the patience and strength to go through it all together.

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What a joy she brings to our family!

A wise friend encouraged me in that first week with this line:

I think that loving and caring for the weak helps us

to learn the joy and pain of living and dying.

I think being loved gives all of us strength

to live or even to die.

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This Summer, sleeping in the garden.

Do you have any disastrous stories to share from your past, or are we here the only ones who get to experience A Series of Unfortunate Events?

Here is our favorite family movie about a dog, family life, and some other kinds of unfortunate events: Lassie.

Greetings, from all of us, including Vanda

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