I lost a Piece of my Heart: A lesson From Al

He was a survivor. He had scars all over his face. You could look at him and read what pain and suffering he endured to survive the floodwaters and devastation. He was a victim of hurricane Katrina. The first time I saw him I was drawn like a moth to the flame. Even though he was hurt and in pain there was a strength and gentleness about him that you couldn’t miss. I knew he had pulled out all his last reserve of strength to make it this far and when he buried his face in my arms and allowed me and the other rescue volunteers to take care of him I knew he still had trust and faith in mankind that we would do right by him and take care of him. We tried.

He was a “scar face” pitbull that we named Al Pacino. He wasn’t the handsomest guy I ever met but there was something about him that touched me on so many different levels. I was immediately smitten. The entire time we were in New Orleans I couldn’t stop thinking about him and made it a point to find out where he was. He had been transported to Mississippi. On our way north we tracked him down and brought him home with us to heal physically and mentally. He was a small guy but there was a strength about him…a survivors instinct…that you couldn’t miss. He took a piece of my heart from our first meeting and after we got to know each other better that piece of my heart was his and his alone. I was blessed to have him with me for 7 months. I watched him get strong and healthy and I watched him become joyful. He slept in my bed. He fell in love (with Emily Rose). He ran around the yard with a smile on his face and a glint in his eye. He saw snow…not something you get to see in Louisiana and found out it could be fun. He loved life…he was a fighter and survivor and enjoyed every minute and the least little kindness someone would give him. He taught me to be thankful for the little things. He taught me to enjoy what we have now.

He died today….Independence Day. What is independence? Freedom! Yes he is free from want, pain and suffering but he leaves behind many broken hearts. His life was too brief and filled with much pain and loss but he touched so many people. He taught all of us a lesson. He took every moment and grabbed it and wrestled it to the ground and enjoyed it. I lost a piece of my heart today when he died. I was angry that he was gone. After all he had been through….to make it this far….how could this happen? He deserved better. He deserved more. When I thought about his life with me I realized that he took every minute that he was with me and made it count. Every romp in the yard, every treat, every kindness he relished and appreciated. He was like a sponge that soaked up everything and reveled in it. He lived a lifetime and enjoyed it for 7 months. Seven wonderful months. I hope that I can approach life with the zest and joy that he did. I hope I have the survivor’s spirit that he had. If I can look at each day as a gift like he did I know my life will be the better for it. Thanks Al for trying to teach us all that important lesson. I love you and I always will. I guess I didn’t lose part of my heart today. It was already his….he just took it with him.

I wrote to Al's human mom to say how much his story touched me and to ask how he died. This is what she wrote back: He died from a disease called myasthenia gravis. The neurologist thought it probably was a congenital disease. His muscles stopped working and when his diaphragm muscles stopped working he stopped breathing. I was on my way to the vets to see him and he died shortly before I got there. That broke my heart that I wasn't with him at the very end.

Please click on the top link or here to visit Eleventh Hour Rescue in NJ.

1 comment:

gatosecaes said...

thank you