You know, I should never go to the Humane Society. I have to hand it to my friend Kiri for working there as long as she did, knowing how she feels about animals. If I’m lucky, I never go there except for once every couple of years because I’m an idiot and I let my guard down. An extremely high percentage of the time, I end up adopting an animal.
That’s the way it was with my Cindy. I had actually gone to the Humane Society to see if I could adopt a rabbit. One of mine had died a few months before, and the remaining rabbit was very lonely. As fate would have it, there were no rabbits, but instead of just leaving, I hung out in the cat house for a while and then made the big mistake of walking down the row of dog cages.
I of course stopped to look in each cage at the dogs. I was standing looking in the cage right before the one Cindy was in, and I was moving to that cage when this little old Japanese man with a fistful of those red and blue leashes came around the corner. He said hi, so I looked over and said hi back to him.
“Would you like to help me?” he asked.
“Help you how?” I answered.
“Well,” he said, “it’s just me today, and I need to walk every single one of these dogs.”
“Wow!” I said. “Sure, I’ll help you walk them.”
So he came over to me, gave me one of the leashes, and said, “Which one do want to walk?”
I was at Cindy’s cage at that time, looked down, and saw this really pathetic face look up at me. “I’ll walk this one,” I said.
So we went in there, I put the leash on her, and she and I went walking out.
She didn’t have much energy; she was a little wobbly. We walked over near the cat cage, and I sat on the curb. She lay down and put her head on my lap. I could see she was just loaded with ticks. I thought this was strange for a dog there. Wouldn’t the staff have removed the ticks when she came in?
They were hanging like bunches of grapes all over her body. It seemed as if the staff was just biding their time with her, not bothering to clean her up, waiting to put her down because no one would take her, and for sure, I thought, they wouldn’t take her, with all those ticks.
After I’d petted her for a while, I took her back to the cage. “Aren’t they going to take all those ticks off her?” I asked the guy, who was busy recruiting everyone in sight to walk a dog — very clever marketing when you think about it.
“Yeah, I know, it’s hard,” he said. “We’re really shorthanded, so we just do the best we can.”
I looked at Cindy again. “How many more days does she have?” I asked the little old man.
“I don’t know,” he answered, “but they might know at the reception desk.”
I went over to the desk and asked about her.
“Well,” the woman said, “we don’t put an exact time limit on them, but she’s been here for a good while, and if I had to guess, I’d say she has another week maybe.”
I went back to the cage. Cindy lay on the ground; she looked so weak. She stood up, though, and stuck her nose through the wire. I scratched it for a bit.
No one’s ever going to take this dog, I thought.
But we had too many dogs already, and I figured a week was a week, and who knows? Maybe some idiot like me might come along and adopt her.
I called them every morning to ask if someone had taken her. Finally it was a week later. I called — it was Sunday morning. “No,” the person who answered the phone said, “she’s still here.”
“Hold that dog,” I said, “I’m coming over right now.”
And I did. The first thing we did was drive up to Longs Mānoa where I bought tick and flea shampoo and a pair of tweezers. I drove over to the Lab School, where I was teaching at the time, and took her to the stairs by the English Department office.
We sat there for more than an hour. I picked off every tick I could find. Hundreds of them. Finally, when she appeared to be tick free, I drove her home, but, before I took her into the house, I gave her a tick and flea killing shampoo. She already seemed more energetic. It’s tough to function, I figure, when hundreds of ticks are sucking out your blood supply.
So that’s the story of yet one more big mistake trip to the Humane Society. But what a find. I’d say Cindy is the best natured dog I’ve ever known. She had the sweetest temperament.
My folks agreed; she was one in a million. She mothered every stray dog and cat we had, and every one we found or adopted afterward.
Because a lot of the pets would sleep with me, and because Cindy was large, I taught her a trick. When I would say “get small,” she would roll up in a ball, and all of us could then fit on my full-size mattress.
Cindy did have one habit I could never break: She loved to chase birds. But she never seemed to catch any, although I didn’t like her scaring them.
Cindy was aging; she had turned 13. One day my dad, who loved to feed the dogs, gave her a large quantity of roast pork.
The pancreas has two functions, the veterinarian told me. One is to produce insulin to regulate blood sugar, the other is to produce enzymes which process fat.
So Cindy ate an overload of fat for a dog her age, and her pancreas began flooding her system with fat-eating enzymes. There were so many enzymes that they began eating her.
We knew something was wrong; she couldn’t stand up. I rushed her to the vet Friday afternoon. When I arrived at my regular vet’s office, she was out, and I was told I’d have to wait for her partner to have a free moment. He was swamped.
Not wanting to wait for who knew how long, I then drove her to an animal hospital I knew of, but they said they too were so busy they’d not be able to see her for quite a while.
Desperate, I finally remembered a place I’d passed many times up in Mānoa Valley near Longs. There were several vets there, so one gentleman saw her immediately. He said she’d have to stay with them.
Cindy looked okay when I visited her on Saturday, but sometime that Saturday night she took a turn for the worse. The vet called me early, and I went in on Sunday morning.
Cindy was bleeding all over the place due to the attacking enzymes. The vet told me it was time to put her to sleep, that she was in great pain, and that there was no more hope.
So we did. I didn’t want her to suffer anymore. The vet said it would be painless. It took so much longer than he’d predicted, though. The vet told me she was fighting, that she didn’t want to leave me.
I cried uncontrollably once he said that.
Cindy was short for Cinderella. We mostly called her Cindy; I’m the only one who would call her Cinderella. She really did lead a kind of fairy-tale life. I don’t know if I’ll ever find another dog like her.