I don’t quite remember how Froggy originally came to us. I’m not sure it really matters. Like people, history doesn’t define them. Everyone reacts differently to similar situations. When he came in, he was a no name white fluff ball. One of our vets named him Froggy because he had a kneecap issue so his back legs would kind of cross and flop, much like a frog. He was happy
This story has been a labor of love and taken far too long to write because every time I do, I start crying. I write this not to toot my own horn or bring attention to myself but to solidify the legacy of my orphan baby who should not be forgotten and will forever have a piece of my heart for he was wise beyond his five years and stronger than most people I know let alone fur babies.
If there is one thing I know for sure it is that we as humans in no way deserve the animals and pets in our lives. I’ve always known this within the context of the animals I’ve lived with and those I’ve generally been around but it has become abundantly clearer working around the shelter in New York City. In about 15 years of volunteering and working with animals up and down the east coast, these guys are something special; the way they adapt to the concrete jungle and the way they survive as well as the unique and sometimes appalling ways they end up with us.
These last few weeks I have been utterly impressed, encouraged, inspired and simply in awe of that survivor spirit found in so few people but all too many dogs and pets. Froggy, or as I call him My Sweet Froggy Prince, is a shining example.
and friendly and didn’t meet a person he didn’t want to play with and love on. If I remember correctly, he was adopted pretty quickly the first time but returned to the shelter. Something just wasn’t right with him. We found out then that he also had Lyme disease. He was adopted out again. And returned again. He was in decline. I wasn’t involved in his medical diagnoses or treatments because that wasn’t my job. My job was to make his stay with us as amazing as possibly despite whatever he had going on. I think he ended up having the kneecap issues, Lyme, a slipped disc and undetermined other neurological problems that left him in immense pain and a struggle for any true mobility. Yet we persisted and somewhere along the way we fell in love with each other.
Like any relationship it started with me seeing him whenever I came in for a little bit of loving and a treat. I tried to visit everyone for at least a few minutes when I’m done with my regular work. He’d jump and wiggle and squiggle and lavish his visitors in kisses while we doled out even more head scratches and belly rubs. Then he’d be gone for a few days or weeks but end up back with us for whatever reason. Each time he came back I spent more and more time with him. I can’t imagine how scary and confusing it was for our little ball of fluff to go to these homes and then come back and leave again but the more time he spent with us, the more he got to know each of us and the more demanding he became of some of us.
He was a house favorite but we just kind of got each other. I would come in early before hours to do work with puppies and every time I walked by his corner room (the NYC ASPCA is basically the Ritz of shelters) to strip and redress my PPE he would wiggle and cry knowing that as soon as I was finished he was first up for a visit.
As he lost use of his legs and was in more pain, I spent even more time with him. I remember when I was in his place, not being able to use my right side and control my extremities. Dogs are resilient but they don’t always come back like people. Still, we just got each other. I knew he was struggling with his gamut of health issues but I was so completely unaware of just how bad it was. He still jumped and squealed and barked for me to come see him every morning. He still dove into my lap and jumped up to aggressively lick me until I pulled him off. And then he didn’t. He wiggled and cried and jumped but then when I came in his room he’d give me a few kisses and then crawl into my lap and fall asleep. I’m sure there were signs and if I had inquired, someone would have told me more detail of his quickening decline but I simply wasn’t there enough to really see what was happening.
I started spending even more time with him. He would fall asleep in my lap for hours. I started bringing my book down with me knowing we’d be spending the rest of the morning or afternoon together. I’d lay down with him and take a nap myself. And then came the talk of fosters and fospice and euthanization (the ASPCA is a no kill shelter except in extreme behavior or medical cases) after his surgery didn’t work like they had hoped. If there’s one thing I regret with my Sweet Froggy Prince it is that I didn’t know just how bad it was until it was too late and that I didn’t make the decision to bring him home quick enough to make it worth the quality of life difference. We did everything we could but nothing was enough. I never did get to bring him home but I do know his last days were well worth it. I was basically sleeping at the shelter with him all day until they kicked me out at night. I only left when others came to visit. He was never really alone. I made sure of it.
As most people can attest, every so often there is a student or patient or client that hits you harder than the others; you fall harder, are more desperate to fix them or yearn for them to succeed. Froggy was mine for this time around. I’ve seen animals come and go. I’ve seen them in rough shape and some have to be euthanized, my own included. It’s an incredibly emotional field. Your cry, get yourself together and channel that energy and determination to the others who still need you, who still have a chance and just keep swimming. Luckily when you work with animals, they tend to notice that you’re sad or under the weather and instead of you lavishing on them, they take care of us. Even in his last days, Froggy was taking care of me. I had just had my infusion and came in right after to see him. He crawled into my lap, wrapped himself around my arm wrapped in bandages and fell asleep after giving it a thorough once over. We really don’t deserve them.
GOOD NIGHT MY SWEET FROGGY PRINCE