Save Me Remembers Lionel
In January 2017, Lionel was found in a Kentucky field, frozen. He was taken to a shelter that managed to save his life. It was an uphill battle as he was ill, malnourished, suffering from a severe skin ailment and God knows what else. It took a month to get him healthy enough for the transport to Canada, where he had dental and gum surgery, and was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis. He was also deaf, almost blind and toothless, with a spinal injury that caused him to walk with a sort of dance-like movement. After two months at his foster mom’s, he came to live with me. He was an adorable, fragile and vulnerable little guy, a tough minded and snarly Mr. Cranks. But over time he grew much calmer and peaceable, a bit growly but no longer snarly, and a mostly really happy little dog who loved our life and our routine. We melded together like an old married couple, sitting on the same desk chair or armchair, sleeping side by side in bed, and visiting everywhere together. I carried him in a dog sling so he could enjoy the scenery and passersby after he got too tired to walk – he got so tired so quickly, his little legs quavering under him – and I slung him to parties, dinners and even a university lecture. For book club, film night and other events, he sat in a carrier that allowed him to poke his head out and enjoy our company, but not to wander around on his own. He was such an excellent – make that perfect! – guest that even non-dog lovers greeted him enthusiastically. When he saw me getting ready to go out, as soon as the sling appeared, he relaxed and was on his best behavior.
Lionel did not dislike other dogs, he just preferred people. When dogs visited, he was mostly indifferent because he knew they would go home. In the park, he gravitated to people but would also give a quick sniff-over to even the biggest, scariest canines you can imagine. He had no attitude. He was not a little dog who picked fights with bigger dogs to prove himself. He simply had no concept of himself as a little dog. He was a dog and so was that Great Dane or American Bulldog whose hindquarters he attempted to investigate. And now he has gone, dying in his sleep as he lay beside me in bed.
– written by Lionel’s mom, Elizabeth