Heidi came to live at my house in December of 2010. She came to Tiger and I as 40 pounds of happy girl. The thing about Heidi is that I could tell when she got here, she was at peace. She had not ever lived in a house before, but she adjusted just fine. When she arrived it was Christmas time and she spent the first few weeks curled up on a dog bed near the base of the Christmas tree. I wish I had a photograph of her under the tree, but my memory of those first few weeks will have to do.
From the get go, Heidi was a happy girl. She really had no problems in the adjustment to indoor life and fit right in with the routine. She and Tiger got along well and were good companions. At first, when other 4 legged visitors came to our house, she was a little defensive. She didn't understand. But, there was the magic moment that happens with most rescue dogs, when they realize they are at home, and the visitors are just that...visitors.
Heidi had a strange sort of stance. I think because she was so skinny, and always maintained her skinny behind, she stood much like a tripod, with her two back legs very close together. And, when she went up the stairs, the two back legs hopped up at the same time, sort of like a rabbit. Thus, we started calling her Heidi Hopper, and lately just "The Hopper".
I always try to figure out what my dogs are trying to teach me. For Heidi, she is a dog that had a rough start in life, but when she got to me, she, for the first time maybe, felt peace. She fought very hard for the first 3 years of her life to survive until she was rescued in Greensburg. After a few months, people would comment, "This is a different dog". Not really. She was always the same sweetie. Just not so skinny. She was up to 58 pounds.
In February, we found that Heidi had some cancer. It was removed and they thought they got it all, but maybe not. About a week before she died, she started getting a lot of fluid in her belly. While we could never figure out the exact diagnosis, everything was pointing toward the cancer having spread to her liver.
A friend who had known all of my dogs commented that Heidi just didn't seem to have the fight in her that some of my other dogs have had. Maybe that was true for the last weeks of her life, but I think she fought very hard at the beginning of her life so that she would have an opportunity to live with Tiger and I.
In the last days, I knew Heidi was tired. I knew she was in pain. I knew she did not want to fight anymore with the illness in her physical body. Our time together seems so very short, but I am so thankful I got to be her guardian for the last 18 months. The lady from Pet Angel who went to the vet's office to pick up Heidi's body said that she knew Heidi was very special. She said when she got to the vets office the medical staff was in tears. She said this is her job and she has to go into those situations every day, but she had not ever seen so many staff members so emotional about one patient. She said, "You know, they see this everyday. I don't mean to say that they don't have feelings, but they usually don't show emotions like that. When I walked in and all of them were in tears, I knew this was a special girl."
And a very special girl she was.