Norm’s Story — From Rescue to Service Dog
Editor’s Note: This is an absolute must-read for every animal lover out there. For those of you who — like me — consider your four-legged friends very important members of your family, you will relate to this guest post from one of our very special Care2 members, Bill. Bill shared his home and his life with his beloved Norm, a Shepherd/Lab mix, for 14 years, each helping the other through countless struggles and adversities. Bill bid farewell to his dear friend last month, and wrote this touching post in dedication to Norm and their “14 year companionship of love.”
By Bill C.
I recently had to put my best friend and companion Norm down; he was 14 yrs old and I guess a misfit from the start. A person bred a Black Lab to sell the puppies. When they were born, the litter had 11 pups, but 2 were not Lab. They looked like German Shepherds. The neighbor beside these people had a pedigree German Shepherd.
The humans decided the 2 Shepherds were “not sellable” and did nothing to care for them: no shots, no worming, and even moved the 2 “misfits” from the mama’s nipples till all the sellable pups were full. I rescued Norm and 4 days after I got him he developed maternal Parvo because the humans removing him from the breast milk stopped him for getting protection from his mother.
I was faced with a decision. Because of life’s circumstances, I was very poor at that point and could not immediately pay a large bill. The vet said he would accept $10 a month because I was such a good customer for 30 years and he knew I would pay the bill. After a week in the hospital my little buddy came home very sick, but alive and on the road to recovery. That started a 14-year-companionship of love.
Over the next few years I was given a diagnosis for a condition that has no cure. I was going to loose the use of my hands, arms and legs. I would end up as I am today, in braces with artificial joints and bones. Before this happened, Norm was trained as an assistance/service dog by trainers from K-9 Cops, Military and myself. He was a quick learner.
Norm was so good at what he did that when I started having deep muscle breakdown from my illness, Norm was trained to sniff out the area before it became a serious problem. I have had 9 surgeries on my legs or feet totally because a dog sniffed, sat and alerted something was wrong. The first time the orthopedic surgeon said he was very uncomfortable doing deep muscle surgery based on a dog’s opinion, but with my instance, he did the first exploratory surgery and Norm was right.
Fact is, Norm was always right.
For the next 14 years, as I got worse and was often recovering from surgery, Norm was my hands and helper. He could get the phone, open the door, pick-up bandages and put them in the trash, pick up my medicine bottles, but the most important thing he did was give me life.
I write this for all to read because we often forget what an animal can do for a human and what a human can do for an animal. I saved Norm from Parvo and he saved me back.
There are no words to express my grief and loss.
I think what Norm deserved was life, but what he would want all to know is he had a very good life. He had a job and as much love as any person and dog can share. He had a friend who, when it came down to it, put Norm above all else.
Remember Norm when you think about getting an animal. You never know what the little sickly rescued pup will turn out to be.
Give them love and share your life. In the end there will be much pain and sadness, but there is also the story, like Norm’s story, full of richness and life because of a simple act of rescue.
If you choose, please note this story, just for Norm and all those alone humans and animals whose life can be so changed when they are just put together.
I Love you Norm, I always will.
photo credit: Bill C