If you want to read our story, then stop just for a moment and take only a few minutes your day, to read my words about the way me and my friend Ghigo met. By reading it you will understand how our running together is normal for us and you will know how this activity has allowed us to become inseparable friends. Probably I can be the only one who can say this with certainty: “My dog and I have always run together… practically we have been doing it since the moment we met!”.
It was an early Monday morning in June, some years ago, I decided to go jogging in the countryside in my area. I wanted run on a beautiful trail of about 10 kilometers which I now call “the fountain run” because half the way there there’s a nice fountain with lots of fresh water.
As I started running I crossed four cyclists who were pedaling in the opposite direction. At their side a beautiful hunting dog was escorting them happily.
I thought he was the dog of one of them and without giving it too much importance I continued on my way.
I had been running for a little over five minutes when I suddenly heard the sound of steps accompanied by a gasping breath behind me. I turn around to see who or what it was and I saw that nice dog behind me, that nice dog I had just met.
Since there was no trace of the cyclists, I quickly realized that the dog belonged to none of them and he was probably following them, just as he was doing with me, in other words he had joined their group but then decided to come with me.
To make a long story short, that beautiful “ginger” dog began to run near me, anticipating me sometimes, following me for a while and waiting for me when necessary. I do not know how to explain it but since those first moments a deep connection was formed between us and immediately, I started to call it Ghigo. I really don’t know where this name came from, I only know it came to me spontaneously. As if the dog himself had suggested it to me.
Of course, even though I kept running, I slightly modified my plans to meet the needs of my new furry companion.
While he was running a little closer to my side, I realized he was wearing a collar around his neck. It was something very similar to that “rope” that is used to pull up the window shades. Looking better I noticed that “collar” had no closing hook. It was simply sewn with some thread. Actually it was a permanent loop that could only be removed using scissors!!!. Let me try to be clearer, it was wide enough not to cause problems, but it was a clear sign of his condition that, perhaps, wasn’t too serene.
After just some small and brief pauses in the shade, we arrived near the fountain, I decided to stop longer than I usually did because I thought the shaggy-red dog would need a few minutes to rest. He lied down in the shade of a fig tree with a large, thick foliage, and I sat a short distance away from him. Until that moment we hadn’t touched yet so I made an attempt and tried to call him to see what would happen. He slowly approached and allowed me to pass my hand on his head. I caressed it. He let me touch him trustingly.
– Great! Fantastic! Now we are really friends! –
Ok, again. I moved a few steps, I turned around to look at him, he responded to my gaze, got up and came to me, away we went again side by side on the way back.
Ah, I’m sorry; I forgot to tell you that during the way, every time I met some other runner, I asked him if by chance he had already met that hunting dog and, as you can well imagine, the answer I always received was: “No, have never seen it!”.
It was almost an hour now that we were running together when I said to myself: “That’s enough, I’ve decided! You’re coming home with me and then tomorrow we’ll see”. So it seemed as if he already knew what was happening, he followed me home, entered my garden, laid down on the porch and enjoyed a well-deserved rest.
The next day I called the Italian National Health Service and spoke with a gentleman who gave me some information. It wasn’t of any help , as I had imagined, and the only thing he suggested to me was to bring Ghigo to a veterinarian, better near my house, to verify the presence of the microchip that, as I imagined and maybe even hoped, was not present. The next step was going to all the dog parks, pet shops and dog clubs in my area, asking for news about a lost dog and leaving leaflets.
Until then, all in all, the story had gone well; a lucky human who had the privilege of meeting a beautiful dog which , without being forced, renounced to a piece of his freedom and spontaneously decided to be a friend to that man met by chance.
All the beautiful and respectable stories, however, always have a moment when something, suddenly and inexorably becomes complicated.
Two days after our meeting, my brittany friend began to behave strangely. It was particularly sad and with his eyes a bit melancholy. That attitude, however, I thought it was due to his feeling of abandonment. Being away from his owner and in a new house did not have to be such a happy condition. Another factor that had distorted my perception regarding the situation that was taking place, was that I only knew him for a few days, I had no term of comparison. To understand and notice strange behaviors, first of all you must know what the normal conditions are and this is only possible after knowing each other at least for a while. In other words, I had no idea what his normal behavior was!
In those early days he did not eat much, but even here I blamed the heat and also the “new” kibbles that I had given him.. I said to myself:
“Maybe up to now he has eaten pizza, spaghetti and meatballs… how can he ever like this dry food!?!?“.
There was something I couldn’t figure out but I blamed his mood on feeling lost and the new non succulent food. At that point I decided to try something else; I opened the fridge to see what I could give him and I noticed that there were chicken hot-dogs. I took one and gave it to him … he was happy and ate it.
“All right” I thought to myself, and I calmed down a bit.
The next morning, as soon as I woke up, I went down and I found that there was some vomit on the floor. Although this worried me, I thought it was the hot-dog he had eaten the day before. I would never have imagined what was going to happen.
“Ok, let’s go to the vet!”. My children were awake, it was Saturday morning and it wasn’t a school day, and I told them we had to go to the big dog’s doctor because we had to treat his tummy ache.
Ghigo was always more tired and listless, His breathing wasn’t good and he had no strength. There weren’t any other strange systems , except the time he vomited but that happened only once.
We arrived at the vet’s, luckily we were the first ones there. We entered and immediately the doctor told me that the situation did not convince her at all. I put the dog on her table, she raised Ghigo’s right upper lip… and she said to me:
“He has pearly white gums and that means they are no longer vascularized. This dog hasn’t got any blood in his veins anymore. Surely it has serious internal bleeding!”.
In that moment my blood ran cold, I looked at her in astonishment, she understood my fear… she calmed me a little and told me that there was a need for an immediate blood transfusion.
She asked me if anything strange had happened and I answered that I could not know because, that dog and I met only a few days before. For me his “past” life had just begun. She looked at me telling me that, probably, before we met, the dog, certainly driven by hunger, had been content to eat some poisoned bait for rats, found who knows where. This type of poison unfortunately has a silent effect and it is designed to kill with an inexorable but not very evident action. It acts on the blood going to modify its normal density and in dogs its effects can manifest themselves many days after ingestion. Unfortunately, the consequences are very serious and the internal bleeding given by the poison if not treated in time, results in death.
I called up all the courage I had and tried to understand the vet’s explanation when she told me that for the transfusion, we had very little time and if we didn’t hurry, most likely, the dog would have died.
“OH MY GOD! What should I do?!?!”.
Do not forget that while all this was happening, in the waiting room there were my two 12 and 5 year old children waiting for their new dog with the stomach ache.
“Ok, let’s stay calm!”.
The doctor put a drip to Ghigo and let me go and bring the kids home. I took them to my mother’s to whom I explained the situation very briefly and right away I started to get in touch with all the places where dog owners hung out, starting to ask for help for a “canine” transfusion. Even if I explained the transfusion which we needed was “simple” just like the human one, only two very young Romanian girls with a wonderful bully said yes. But once we went back to the veterinary clinic, the doctor said that their dog was the right size but he was still too young.
“Damn and now!?!?!? Time was ticking!”
I had almost lost hope when as soon as I got out of the doctor’s office, I looked up and saw a lady who was walking with her beautiful sheepdog very similar to a Maremmano Abruzzese which was nice, huge and also a little overweight ;).
I approached them, explained the situation quickly and she very politely and spontaneously replied:
“Yes I will certainly help you! You would certainly have done the same for me?!?!?!”.
We rushed back into the clinic… the big overweight dog on the table… his bright red blood began to fill a bag… now it’s up to mine Ghigo who, finally, begins to get some life back in his veins.
Although the worst was over, the veterinarian told me that we still needed several days of very special care. Especially the two immediately following the transfusion were to be considered at high risk and for forty-eight hours at least, Ghigo had to get a vitamin K injection every four hours.
Those days were tough but Ghigo was strong, indeed very strong. A small hunting dog which had been able to trust me and had given me the chance to help him becoming the fantastic four-legged friend I and you now know.
This is our story that I wanted to tell you it with great pleasure. I wrote it with the hope of being able get you to smile and I am sure that from this moment on, when you hear me say that it was Ghigo to find me, you will be able to understand my strange statement much better…
Thanks to the best English teacher ever Gabriella Rosa Tasca, for her kind help in the translation.