Tears for Giovanni: The too short life of a special dog

Giovanni

I spent the day yesterday crying over the death of a dog I’d never met.  

I’d only seen bad cell phone pictures of him and occasionally heard him barking when I spoke to my son on the phone.  Nevertheless, I have spent the day heart-broken over the needless death of my son’s roommate’s dog, Giovanni. 

Giovanni and Jack

Giovanni and Jack

We don’t know all the facts pertaining to his death.  We may never know.  There definitely seems to be negligence on the part of the Albuquerque, New Mexico animal hospital that treated him.  There are indications the dog may have been poisoned.  Either way, at less than a year old,  he is still just as dead. 

Giovanni had not had a an easy life.  A pit bull mix, he was abused by his former owners.  Rather than becoming mean and aggressive, he was a gentle soul, playful and full of love.  My son’s roommate, M, adopted him from a shelter.  He made fast friends with my son’s dogs, Jack and Daisy.  He loved his new home and his new family.  I fell in love with his pictures and was looking forward to meeting him on my next trip to New Mexico. 

My son and his roommate are, of course, devastated at Giovanni’s loss.  

As a parent, it is hard to see these kids, on their own, halfway across the country, struggling to deal with the loss and the unfairness of it all after spending over a thousand dollars and doing everything they could to save the dog’s life.

As a person, animal lover that I am, to think that someone could have poisoned the dog deliberately is sickening.  To think that veterinary providers could be so uncaring and incompetent (and greedy for dollars) when life of a pet is at stake is absolutely outrageous to me.   I have been giving my Labradorable Retriever lots of pats and hugs.  He’s been glued to my side, because he always knows when I am upset.

I realize that many people do not share my view that pets are members of your family.  I really do get that.  But regardless of where you weigh in on that, animals deserve the right to live out their lives without being the target of a person’s hate or anger or as a target for revenge against someone.  And they do deserve competent medical care, especially when you are paying premium rates for those services. 

Many years ago, I found this tribute to a dog by George Graham Vest.  The first time I read it, it made me cry and has shaped the way I think about dogs as a member of the family.  For me, it always comes to mind when a dog is lost too soon:   

ONE MAN’S SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO A DOG

The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful
or treacherous, is his dog.

 A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground where the wintery winds blow,
and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s  side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the sores and wounds that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his Pauper master as if he were a prince.

When all other friends desert, he remains.  When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in it’s journey through the heavens. If misfortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies.

And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in it’s  embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true, even in death.

 -From a speech given by Former Senator George Graham Vest of Missouri. Delivered in 1870 when he was acting as a lawyer in a suit against a man who had killed the dog of his client. — He won the case.

If you have a story about a beloved pet who was lost too soon, I’d love to hear it.  And, if anyone has recommendations for a good vet in the Albuquerque area, please leave a comment and let me know.