Yoshi's Happy Tale

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I am fortunate to know love. I am loved on a daily basis—by my boyfriend, Kyle, by my friends, and, as special as it is, I grew up in a house of unconditional love from my mother and father.
Not everyone is as fortunate as I am.
My dog, Yoshi, did not grow up under the love and care of her own mother. She was not looked after in the dark, comforted when scared, or cared for when sick. Some time in the earliness of Yoshi’s life, she and her sister were separated from their mother, left to fend for themselves in a world much larger than their puppy-dog selves. Luckily for them, a saintly woman was eager to do the job their mother couldn’t.
Yoshi and her sister were found by Amy Heinz, the mother every dog hopes will find them. Amy runs a pet adoption agency, AHeinz57, in DeSoto, Iowa. Her shelter is well known for taking excellent care of rescued animals and finding them happily-ever-afters. When she came across the two young pups, their beautiful, black shiny coats could not hide the illness in their bodies. The girls were sick with parvovirus, a highly contagious viral illness comparable to the effects of H1N1 in humans. Within five months, Amy had nursed them to healthy playful pups. She named the girls Venus and Serena Williams, sisters who stuck together and beat the odds, and she placed them with loving foster parents where they would await their adoptions.
Meanwhile, Kyle and I were biding our time until we could get a dog. The thought of a dog had been a popular topic of conversation for more than a year of our relationship. We had picked out our future dog’s name, Yoshi, the day we decided to move in together. However, we were moving into an apartment, where little Yoshi would not be able to fully enjoy being an active dog. For the next year, we dreamed together about our Yoshi.
This past summer, Kyle bought us a house—a beautiful one-level home with a large fenced-in back yard. The back yard had both of us sold from the get go, knowing that one day our own dog would have plenty of room to run and play. But, being young and far away from our closest friends and family, the summer required us to travel on several weekends. Between friends’ weddings and family reunions, we weren’t spending much time at our new house. We kept looking at the calendar for the months coming, planning the best time to get our Yoshi. Our hearts sank more as the wait would grow longer, but we did not want our new dog to have to be shuffled around and have to get accustomed to us in midst of the busy summer. The last weekend in October was our fifth and last wedding of the summer. On our drive back, before stopping at our home, we went straight to an animal shelter.
Kyle and I saw good, loving dogs that day, but we did not see our Yoshi. We had to restrain ourselves from getting a dog just to get one, rather than being patient and getting the right one for us.
It was only two days later when a picture of a sweet, black and white pup popped up on our search pages. Her medium-sized body was silky black, but white fur circled her nose, frosted her paws and made a beautiful mane. She was listed as “Venus Williams,” and, get this, she had a sister, Serena. Venus was assumed to be a labrador and border collie mix. The sad, but hopeful look in the puppy’s big brown eyes spoke to Kyle and me, and we knew we had found Yoshi.
The next day, we met both Venus and Serena. Kyle’s eyes grew big for both of them. He had the look he gets when he’s shopping for tools or cooking pans; he had found more than what he was looking for. I thought for sure we were going home with two dogs.
Venus was shy, huddling close to the foster parents who housed her for the past week. She let Kyle and I pet her, but she didn’t warm up to us the way Serena did. Serena was all over us, jumping and playing like we hoped our Yoshi would. This made Kyle nervous, but I knew Venus was our Yoshi and that she would undoubtedly love us. We had so much love to give her, Venus just didn’t know it yet.
After paperwork, pictures, and goodbyes, Venus, now Yoshi, was riding home with us. It was early evening, and she was a combination of tired and scared. Yoshi was scared to let her guard down, but her tiresome forced her to lay with her head in my lap for the car ride home. I was in love. Her black coat was so shiny and soft, her head warm on my lap. She would be my cuddler during the cold months coming up. She would be our little angel.
Yoshi was scared when she got to our house. She ducked behind a table when we first introduced her to the back yard. Later, on the couch, she sat up straight, her head slowly dropping and jolting back up as she tried not to fall asleep. She sat tall, proud with perfect posture, unrelenting. Her goal was to come off strong, but to us it was the cutest thing.
I hated to leave her the following morning, which happened to be Halloween, for work, but Kyle was able to stay home and spend the day with her. She was in excellent hands with a guy who cared more for entertaining his dog than himself. She let loose and began warming up to him, later greeting me with a warm welcome at the door. The feeling when your puppy first jumps on you to express how much she missed you is one I started looking forward to every day.
When I got home, Kyle left to run an errand and let me bond with Yoshi. Yoshi’s idea of bonding was strongly different than mine; two minutes after Kyle left, Yoshi squatted, and began a trail of diarrhea from the kitchen all the way to the back door. I stood there, a little in shock, unable to believe what had just happened. Kyle said she had been great all day, no accidents in the house. But this wasn’t your general puppy dog accident—this was a full blown unintentional explosion.
Yoshi looked terrified. I let her outside while I attempted to clean up. It was cold out, and she looked scared and sad at the back door. Her body was shaking and drool was coming from her pretty little mouth. I thought she was just scared because she’d had an accident. The adoption agency had her fully potty trained, so she thought she had done wrong. Clearly, it was something she couldn’t help.
I brought her in when I had finished cleaning up and cuddled her shaking, scared body on the couch.
“It’s okay, Yoshi,” I told her. “You’re body is adjusting to a new place and new people, but we love you.”
Yoshi responsed by vomiting on me and the couch. My baby was sick! What had she and Kyle gotten into today? He didn’t mention any signs of this. Was this why he really left?
Of course not, but my mind was racing to worse thoughts as Yoshi continued to vomit four more times. What had we done to our dog?
The uncontrollable shaking scared me the most. Her big, brown puppy-dog eyes were no longer opened wide with excitement, but closed in with fear. Yoshi hadn’t even been in our family for twenty-four hours, but I was in love with her. What if something was seriously wrong with her? I couldn’t bare the thought of losing her after I’d already pet her soft coat, felt the warmth of her head in my lap, kissed her little head. She was only five months old and had so much life with us to live. Kyle and I had the world to offer this sweet little dog.
As new dog parents, Kyle and I went back and forth with what to do. Do we take her to the hospital? Is she just scared? Had she just had too much new activity and eaten random things in the back yard? We called the foster parents and Amy at AHeinz57 to see if she had been sick leading up to that day, but neither had seen any signs.
We bundled Yoshi up in a blanket and put her in the back seat of Kyle’s car with me as we drove to the animal hospital. It was just like bringing her home the night before, but the emotions were more high strung.
After doing some testing and taking our baby away into another room, the veterinarian told us Yoshi had roundworm. She had likely gotten it from being around the other dogs at the foster parents’ home and eating the gross things that dogs eat out in the yard. The vet gave us liquid injections to shoot in her mouth, which would stop the vomiting, as well as a pill for the diarrhea. She would eat the canned, easily digestable food for a few days, and should be as good as new in a week.
Kyle and I were relieved it wasn’t something worse, but we also knew we were in for a long weekend. Yoshi didn’t get sick again after her first round of medicine. The shaking, however, continued for a couple days. She had no energy and curled up on soft blankets. I knew Kyle was itching to get her out and play, but I was enjoying this cuddle time with her, playing Mom to our sick child. We got broken in as new parents during that first weekend, and it tested our faith to our new puppy. There was nothing too serious or stressful that would make us give in. Yoshi was our baby, and we were hers for life.
It was what Yoshi needed to see from us before she could let her guard down.
The worms died down their attack, and Yoshi became the healthy and playful puppy we wanted her to be. After seeing how much we cared for her, she then reciprocated her love for us. She has been in our family for almost two months now, and we couldn’t imagine life without her. There is so much to love about our Yoshi—her paws, massive but friendly, as she pokes at my cheek to wake me up every day; her pride when she sits tall with her nose pointing straight up; her tail wagging behind her when something makes her happy. The best feeling is coming home after a long day of work to a happy puppy behind the door, knowing she will be there to pounce and jump on me. She is a well-mannered, loving and loyal dog, and Kyle and I couldn’t have gotten any luckier.
Yoshi may have needed to test us in the beginning and make us earn her trust, but her doing so brought out some good things. She tested Kyle and me as parents, and we passed. We did everything we could to make her feel better and safe, and our love for her grew even deeper in the process. Kyle and I adopted Yoshi knowing we would give her a loving home, but we never imagined we could love a dog this much. There are no limits or boundaries—just unconditional loving and tail wagging.