Malo, it means bad in Spanish. But my very first dog was anything bad.
I had taken a dog sitting gig over in Oceanview, while starting up on the every three week immunotherapy treatments. Though it was about 90 miles from where I was to get treatments, it gave me a safe comfortable place to live for a while.
It was my first responsibility with a dog, having always been a cat person, but I knew I could do it. He was a sweet dog, I didn’t feel any aggression from him, nothing to fear.
The first couple of days I watched Malo scratching and figured he probably had fleas. I recommended to Randy, the owner, that we get him some flea medication. Randy asked me to find out what was the best to use on this island. The response came back – the kind from the vet.
Milo had never been to a vet and he was about a year and a half old. Randy agreed to pay the bill and asked me to get the flea medication, shots and start the process for allowing the dog to travel.
On the day I was taking the dog to the vet, I crossed paths with our dog sitter who reminded me to make sure they tested for heartworm. She described the horror of what had happened to one of her dogs who died of heartworm disease. I thanked her for the advice! I had already fallen in love with Malo and wanted to ensure he was ok.
I felt the protectiveness of a mother as I took the frightened puppy into the vet. All those new smells had him quivering. The vet tech took us into the exam room, focusing on Malo and making him feel as comfortable as possible, chatting with me about what the visit was for. She then sent me back out to the waiting room.
A bit later I heard the vet tech talking with the vet in an angry voice. “Here is this beautiful dog that the owners aren’t being responsible for. If they would have brought him in when he was a baby for his shots, he wouldn’t have this disease now!” I sat there and started crying inside at what I heard. Malo had heartworms! The vet came out to talk to me and I asked him to call Randy. Randy agreed to pay for the heartworm treatment, to the tune of approximately $600.
Malo could no longer leave the house unless he was on a leash. No more visiting his friends in the neighborhood. The vet said he could not get excited. As the worms begin to die they break up into pieces, which can cause a blockage of the pulmonary vessels and cause death. So from there on, early morning walks with Malo on a leash. We would return home where he lay on the floor beside the couch, as I lay there and started my own healing journey through immunotherapy. We healed together. Six months later he was winning against the heartworms and the tumors in my neck had shrunk to where they could no longer be felt.
I learned the value of dogs through this experience. Man’s best friend. Unconditional love machines. Thank you for the gift Malo. Aloha