Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sweet Sweet Porto

I was fortunate in my life to have found and loved a very special puppy named Porto. I found him in a dumpster with his brother Chardonnay, and I loved him from the first. In total, I found three of the brothers in the same location. Porto never seemed to have a fair life, and his life ended, sadly, violently, and prematurely on Saturday. I know that many people think it is easy to say good bye to a pet, but I am finding it to not be true. I have feelings of guilt, of depression, of mourning, and they are profound. When I found Porto, and Chardonnay, and later their brother Chardonnay, I knew they could not live in our small apartment, with our cats. And Fortunately I was able to take them to live on Ettore's grandfather's vineyard, a place I thought would be at best, temporary, as I planned to get them all adopted to good homes. Porto was the first to get "adopted" by a family with disabled kids, and we thought, at first the match was great. We were wrong. We checked in on him two weeks later and he was in a cage, skin and bone, with no food or water. We took him back, and I promised I would never give him up again. The area I live in is full of street dogs, and sadly, finding abandoned puppies is not uncommon, but I didn't want to risk them living an entire life at the shelter, so we kept them, down at the land, where they ran freely, and had a barrack to live in, and I visited them everyday and ran with them. Porto was always the one that struggled to fit in with his brothers, and he always wore his heart on his sleeve. He was truly a very special boy, and I loved him, and when I would visit them daily, I would make a special point to give him extra caresses and kisses, because I knew he needed them. But he faced this life with courage, and even though he didn't live in our house, he had his place, and he was always happy to see us.
Starting in November, the puppies were growing up, and they needed to be vaccinated but, I thought, more importantly, neutered, because they would often come up missing, and the town had other street dogs. I thought it was responsible for us to get them fixed because when they would go missing it would break my heart, and in any case, I didn't want to be responsible for yet MORE street puppies.When I got back from my last visit to the states, my priority was getting them fixed.In retrospect, all the signs of Porto being ill were already there. He had a strange tick, and was tired. We made arrangements, to get them fixed and then in a week we would vaccinate them.
Going under, for any animal or human always takes a toll on the immune system. We got them back and they were all fine for about a week, and then one by one they all came down with what we thought was a Gastroenteritis Virus or poisoning, as one of the pups had actually been poisoned. NOT uncommon is this region. People hate these dogs. We got them medical care and they all seemed to recover, even Porto. Then I noticed a hole in Porto's leg that looked like a gunshot wound or a an animal bite. Porto and Bellone both got sick a second time, but Bellone recovered. Porto, sadly, took the Distemper virus, and it not only infected his intestinal tract, it got him in the lungs, and in the nervous system and eventually the brain. He had a nervous tick, then he couldn't breathe well. But he faced each problem with courage, he ate, he drank, he wanted to go out, even though he was weak, We tried everything for him to help him. We went broke on everything we would think of, but last Sunday was the last day he ate. It was also the last day he ran on his vineyard. The next day, on Monday he seemed tired, but I took the boys out for a small walk at the Lake of Nemi, which always revives me. And he was struggling, and not eating. He started to have vomiting, and ticking, he refused food and water, so we had him on an IV. Up until Thursday, he was still trying. He would get up to relieve himself, he would jump in bed with me to cuddle, so we were still hopeful. Then the virus just stuck him down. On Thursday he would still walk, but he would fall. On Friday morning he had pure liquid blood stools, and stared having seizures. We took him to the vet, and the doctor told us he was done. We brought him home, to say goodbye, but he was a seizure and went into a coma. On Saturday morning, we found him in a pool of his own waste, and knew it was time. Nobody, animal or man, deserves to live like that, he deserved some dignity, and and end to his misery, so we took him to the vet, and he was slowly put to sleep. Ettore wanted to go alone, and I let him, and I am happy he was not alone. He faced all of the disease with courage and hope, and smiled up until the end. He never became angry when we were hooking him up to IVs and bombing him with Vitamins to boost his immunity. In the end, he was just too weak.Porto was a brave soul, and honestly one of the purest and innocent beings I have known. I think now I am the fortunate one to have found him, because even though his life was brief, he lived in fully, smiled, protected his vineyard and olive grove. All he asked for was to be held when he didn't feel well, for extra caresses, and love. He was never shy when giving us love. He made my life better, and made me want to be truer to my beliefs, because through him, I saw the soul of a beautiful animal,, so precious. He was the most precious puppy, and I don't want his life and death to go unnoticed. Porto matter to us, and we loved him, and we made our mistakes, but he remained loving until the end.Today we took him back to his olive grove, and buried him between the trees in the spot where we would often relax together to take the sun. He loved bones, and he loved to get belly rubs.I will keep Porto in my heart forever, and my heart will always have a piece missing that belongs to him...REST IN PEACE LITTLE PORTO!!