I promised myself I wouldn’t let this get to me, but I’m overwhelmed by sadness. I’ve been trying so hard to hide it all day. I should be sleeping…and yet I’m still thinking about a sad moment in my day. Today I had to make a very difficult decision that I haven’t had to make for a living creature. I had to decide the fate of a small life. Here’s the story: Last night I went to the children’s home to attend one of their weekly devotionals. The kids know I’m a huge sucker for animals, so they plop an adorable little puppy in my lap. She looked pretty beat up, with fleas, mites, bite marks, malnutrition…you name it. Your typical pound puppy! The kids motioned that she couldn’t walk. I was confused at first, but when we put her on the ground her two back legs couldn’t move while her front legs did all the walking. She would drag her little body around on the ground. The kids really wanted to make her better again and I told them I would take her home and try and see what I could do for her. The kids named her Shoe-Shine…but I secretly changed it to Bug. She had the best little personality. She had no idea anything was wrong with her back legs. Bug could barely get herself around, but she wanted to be wherever you were. She really enjoyed munching down on some chicken I prepared for her. She didn’t enjoy our AC that froze her to bits and pieces, so I made a little bed for her in our warm bathroom. She fell asleep immediately in the warmness…typical Cambodian pup! Every foster puppy I’ve ever had over the past few years, loooved to CRY and by cry I mean SCREAM the night away. But not little miss Bug. She was as quiet as a mouse. When she did cry it was like a baby bird whispering. The kind of cry that makes you swell up inside and go “awwwe!” When we got up this morning she was happy to see us. She enjoyed dragging her little body around the house with us, but was exhausted after 5 minutes of trying to keep up. Sadly, she decided she didn’t want any chicken, fish, water, milk…basically anything in the fridge I had didn’t make her excited. This really worried me. Then I realized she had not been able to use the bathroom the entire night or in the morning. I was able to take little Bug to a sweet Australian vet we have in town by the afternoon and she still hadn’t been able to use the bathroom. When we arrived with Bug she had a fever. She still wouldn’t eat. Her foot turned out to be infected. Her spine was severely damaged by a dog bite. And there was just no resources in Cambodia to help little Bug recover. I knew if I kept her alive it would be for selfish reasons. She may have never recovered from her leg trauma, and if she did it would have meant years of joint pain throughout her life. If she hadn’t been paralyzed from her pelvis down I would have fixed her all up in a heartbeat. I’m glad we were able to have her humanely put to sleep. I just hate that I had to make that decision. We took her small body back to the orphanage to be buried. As soon as I drove up the kids asked me where Shoe-Shine was. My heart was torn to pieces when I had to tell them what happened. Later one of the workers told me the kids were so excited that the “rich white people were taking the sick puppy because they would cure her”. Now I’m beating myself up about it. I hate that I let the kids down. I feel this overwhelming amount of hopelessness that was triggered by the fate of little Bug. My job really puts a toll on my heart. The things I have to face daily working on the field and then coming home (Siem Reap, Cambodia) to my “safe haven”, but constantly still having to see the starvation, begging, and devastation is hard to swallow. There’s so much good I want to do in every situation. I never want to fail with any life, but I’m beginning to realize it’s out of my hands. I need to let go and let God handle it. Sometimes I wonder if building a callus over my heart will numb the pain, but I’m worried it will change who I am for the worse. Pray for me to build the strength to continue and keep a smile on my face and peace in my heart.
Rest in Peace little Bug.
I was going to work on a video for Bug of her recovery over time. Ryan and I took video and pictures of her moments before we took her to the vet. We had high hopes for her, but she’s in a better place now.