Posted on Mar 12, 2015
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
When I first met Dylan, he was so handsome that I caught my breath and stared. He was a gentleman so he came right over and introduced himself. We have been in love ever since.
Dylan didn’t have it so easy before coming to me. When his dad died unexpectedly, Dylan was trapped in the house with no food, water, or way out. He was finally discovered and brought to the animal shelter, where after months of being up for adoption, was finally scheduled to be euthanized. A nice family realized it was his last day and brought him home. But Dylan had so much post traumatic stress at being left that even when the family went five minutes to the mailbox, he panicked and destroyed the house trying to get out. Understandably the family could not live that way and called out to different rescues for help. The family was told the same thing over and over again; that they would either let Dylan live in a kennel for the rest of his life, or they would put him to sleep. Neither option was acceptable to the family but they didn’t know what else to do. As a last resort they called The Gentle Barn. We told them that we would be happy to have him and that we would not destroy him or let him be outside. We would heal his PTSD and make him a part of our family.
It took Dylan a while to recover. For the first 6 months we never left Dylan alone, not even for a few minutes. We were with him all day long and if we had to go out we hired a baby sitter. This allowed Dylan to grieve over the death of his dad, and gave him a chance to relax and know he was safe. After 6 months, we installed a dog door so he would never feel trapped inside and with the company of our other dogs he was able to be at home alone for longer and longer periods. By the time we celebrated our 1 year anniversary together, Dylan was a “normal”, well adjusted dog.
When we recued Dylan, he had a torn ACL tendon and his knee was swollen and very painful. Because he was such a big dog we knew that we would not be able to carry him should he not be able to walk, we had to keep him mobile. Several veterinarians told us that it would be better not to operate due to his age and the longevity of the injury. So for the last 5 years we took Dylan to acupuncture, water therapy, laser, and massage therapy each and every week. We also walked every day to keep his muscles strong. These were the times that meant the most to both of us, and the times that I miss the most now. When we would go for a walk, every 10 minutes or so Dylan would stop, lean against me, and look up into my eyes as if he were reciting a romantic poem. I would return the stare and tell him how much I loved him.
Dylan wanted to be with me all of the time. In the last few years, as he got older and his body got weaker, he could not walk up the stairs. When I would go upstairs for something he would stand at the bottom and call for me until I came down again, or went to get him and help him come up with me. One night he went down stairs to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, and then realized he could not get back up the stairs. He barked for me but I was sound asleep and it took me a while to wake up. When I went to get him he was so excited to see me that he jumped up and down and wagged his whole body with a smile that lit up the entire house. Wow, Dylan sure knew how to show gratitude!
Dylan was a lover of peace and would get very upset if the other dogs fought or even played too ruff. He would jump in the middle of them and bark at them to stop. Even though he was our biggest dog, Dylan was the best behaved and the one my kids walked as I handled the smaller and more aggressive ones. Dylan would never pull them, and was kind and loving to all animals and people. Dylan never met anyone he didn’t love or that didn’t love him.
A few days ago Dylan’s other knee snapped and with two compromised knees and nothing to support him, he could no longer walk. He was in pain and because he was so big I could not lift him or care for him properly. I tried for a few days but was finally left with no other options than to help him out of his body. He was always so good to me, even though it was excruciating I had to love him enough to let him go with dignity. Dylan was much braver than me. He left peacefully, easily, quickly and seemed completely ready.
It is hard for me to comprehend that such a huge force, such a huge life could not be here anymore. But when I close my eyes I feel his love and I can see his smile and sense him still with me. Dylan is here in my heart for the rest of my life and I am grateful that he and I shared the most wonderful love affair, together!