After gracing us with her presence for the past seven years our three-legged princess is gone.
We adopted Nala from the San Jose Humane Society shortly after buying our house in 1998. After a few visits and not finding the right dog to take home we were walking along the row of dog runs and saw a super-cute black lab-type dog standing up, front paws on the gate, wagging her tail at us. Cute face, happy, anxious to meet us and… what the? She’s only standing on one leg!
We were immediately taken with her personality, affection and heart. She wouldn’t play fetch for more than a couple tosses, she wouldn’t go out in the rain and if it got cold, she just wanted to be inside. She was definitely a princess… but a princess with a huge spirit. Initially we marveled at her ability to get around on just three legs, but the novelty soon wore off and we stopped noticing that she only had three legs. It never bothered her, after all… she had one more leg than we did.
Nala’s lack of a leg did eventually slow her down in 2004 when she developed Idiopathic Peripheral Vestibular Disease, commonly called old dog vestibulitis. The affliction, not uncommon in older dogs, is essentially loosing the function of your inner ear. Without the body’s built-in gyroscope to help balance, the world starts spinning and it takes a while to adjust. After a few weeks Nala learned to rely on her sight, muscles and other inner ear for balance. Nala was at 100% in about a month. Almost a year to the day later, she lost the use of her other inner ear and had a much more difficult recovery. True to form, she fought through again the second time (though she never was quite as stable as before).
As we prepared for our move to Ireland we included the necessary steps which would allow us to bring Nala with us. The regulations of importation of dogs into Ireland now allow you to prep your pet ahead of time to avoid the six-month quarantine. By getting a rabies test performed by the correct organization six months before importation your pet can enter the country without having to be put in a kennel for six months. Nala would have been able to join us in Ireland on August 7th, but it wasn’t meant to be.
We were moving to Ireland before Nala would be able to enter the country and thankfully we have some great friends who also love dogs, our good friends Leslie and Jason. We were initially a little concerned that things would be rough on Leslie and Jason because we weren’t quite sure how Nala would get along with their newly adopted dog, Kaos. Nala, who has always been a little aggressive towards other dogs, wasn’t too bad of a house guest (other than an early issue with relieving herself inside). Nala joined their pack quickly, immediately latching onto Kaos. Nala apparently spent most of her time following her new pal around.
Leslie, having just lost her dog Micah in February, had the unenviable task of contacting us on Monday to let us know Nala wasn’t doing well. This past weekend Nala stopped eating and the vet said it was likely kidney failure or lung cancer (or perhaps both for all we knew). In her later years Nala had a history of urinary tract infections and was on a special diet which was easier on her kidneys, so we knew there was an issue there. Combined with her kidney issues the vet was having trouble hearing a heart beat on one side of her chest which could indicate a rapidly growing tumor in her lung. My first desire was to throw as much money at it as was needed, I didn’t want to lose Nala, but I knew that was really just a selfish reaction. It was time.
Nala passed away last night at around 6:30 PM pacific time.