Twelve years ago, I married my soulmate. There are many reasons why I love Ryan, but this year he did something very special for me that showed me how much he loved me.
Back in May we got the diagnosis that the Chili Dawg had osteosarcoma (bone cancer). If we didn't amputate his leg, he had maybe 30 days to live. He was in a lot of pain and could barely walk. The veterinary oncologist gave us our options. All of them were extremely costly. My heart was broken. Literally broken.
You're probably thinking, "He's just an animal. Why are you that attached?!?" What most of you don't understand is that Chili Dawg basically brought me back to life, and I don't mean in a resurrection sort of way. After my brain injury I fell into a horrible depression. H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E. There are 3 weeks of my life that I have no memory of whatsoever due to the brain injury. Then there are about 5 months where my memories are extremely fuzzy, also due to the brain injury. I would get confused going home, I couldn't remember my phone number. All the easy things that I used to take for granted were now difficult for me, and I became angry and depressed. Nothing worked to snap me out of the depression. No medicine, no doctors, nothing.
Then, I got an email from Ryan. Someone at his work had a friend who didn't want their golden retriever anymore, and they wanted to know if we were interested. As soon as I saw the picture, I was interested. We drove the hour and a half to look at this dog, and as soon as he greeted me, I knew that this was my dog and we weren't leaving without him. His old owners wanted nothing for him (they had paid a lot of money for him from a breeder- they gave us his papers), they just wanted him gone, so we took him home with us for free. There was something about the Chili Dawg (we changed his name) that broke through my wall of depression and freed me from it. After he came home with us, it's like my fog was lifted. My depression went away, and my anger started to as well. I still struggled with my memory, and probably will for the rest of my life, but this dog got through to me.
Fast-forward to the cancer diagnosis and my broken heart. After everything this dog had done for me, it seemed there was nothing I could do to help him. We couldn't afford the amputation, chemotherapy, radiation, or bisphophatase. Ryan was out of town, so he couldn't see my face as I read through our options and how much they cost- he was doing the same thing on his laptop in Texas. He called me to talk about what we should do. I wanted to tell him that I wanted to do the amputation, but I knew I would sound selfish, because we didn't have the money to do it, so I told him that we could just make Chili Dawg comfortable for his last month with us until the cancer moved to his lungs and we had to put him to sleep. Ryan got very quiet on the phone and then he told me he would call me back. While I waited for him to call me back, I wrapped my arms around Chili Dawg and cried into his back, apologizing for not being able to take away his pain.
The phone rang, and it was Ryan. "I scheduled Chili's amputation for next week. We need to do the amputation to take away his pain. I looked at the budget and if we cut out some spending, we should be able to afford it." Words cannot explain how much this decision meant to me. Ryan knew how much Chili Dawg meant to me, and he was willing to make sacrifices so that he could be with us for just a little longer. While I know that the amputation may have only given us a couple extra months with Chili Dawg, because the cancer will come back (even if we did chemo it would come back), I appreciate that my husband put my needs ahead of his own in making this decision.
And that is just one reason why I love this man. Happy 12 year Anniversary, Ryan!