Today our hearts ache for our dear friend Fernando Rodas. He lost his best friend and companion Suzanna completely unexpectedly last night at about 11 pm.
When we first saw her in late December of 2011 Suzanna was a skeletally thin blonde German Shepherd mix who was desperately scrounging for anything edible. She had recently given birth, though there was no sign of her babies. She was literally skin, bones, and swollen teats. Here ears appeared completely outsized for the size of her bony head and starved body. We estimated that she was a couple of years old when we found her, possibly three.
She filled out and thrived physically with us, but she was a very anxious and worried dog, and the changeable life at the rescue was stressful and unsettling for her.
In September of 2014, Fernando took her home and she has been his inseparable companion, his best friend, and the joy of his life ever since. Suzanna loved being his “only one” and with him she settled and was happy and secure emotionally, too. She loved her twice daily walks to the nearby park where she could sniff to her heart’s content and sneak an occasional, forbidden chicken bone, and she got to know many of the neighbor dogs whose owners walk them on the same schedule. Fernando met many of his neighbors on his walks with Suzanna (dogs have such an uncanny way of connecting us to other humans in the very best way, don’t they?) Over the years, friendships have been formed with this group of devoted dog lovers who call themselves “The Manada” (The Pack), and they celebrate their beloved dogs’ birthdays, “Gotcha days”, and holidays with pup-cakes and parties. Suzanna and Fernando are charter members of this lovely group.
We visit Suzanna and Fernando in their home in Guatemala City every couple of months, spending some time cuddling with this lovely and well loved girl, enjoying hearing about the duo’s adventures, and of course bringing some fresh baked liver treats for Suzanna. We visited just last week to drop off Xmas goodies for both of them, and Suzanna and Fernando came to Antigua on Friday for a short visit, too. One of her ears was bothering her a bit, so we took her to Dr. JP for a check and some ear drops. He checked her and saw nothing at all out of the ordinary health-wise. She looked fabulous and was as happy and sweet and waggy as always.
Yesterday Suzanna enjoyed a car ride with her dad, and went for two normal, lovely walks. She had her dinner (and her special “pate”), and last night she curled up on the bed beside her dad, snoozing while he checked his messages. She coughed a couple of times, and simply stopped breathing.
Our hearts are completely broken for Fernando. None of us can believe that Suzanna is gone. She gave absolutely no warning and no signs of anything amiss. Although most of us would hope for such an easy passing when it is our time to go, the hole that she has left in her wonderful dad’s world is immeasurable and bottomless. Their time together was far, far too short. Through tears this morning, Fernando told us that they had three years and four months with each other. Words are completely inadequate to express our shock, sorrow and sadness at this lovely dog’s passing.
RIP sweet Suzanna. We are so grateful to you, Fernando for wrapping this beautiful dog in love and making up for her terrible early suffering with these years of happiness with you. We know that she brought you much joy and companionship, too. We are so very, very sorry for your loss.
Suzanna’s adoption post:
We found Suzanna in January, 2012 wandering the streets looking desperately for food. She was skeletally thin, and we brought her into the “Puppy Palace” immediately. She was adopted a few months later after recovering and being spayed. All was good in Suzanna’s world for about a year. She lived on a large, lovely property seemingly getting along famously with an older female Golden Retriever. About a year after being adopted, the Golden turned on Suzanna and attacked her, opening deep wounds that required stitches.
Her people called us to ask for help. We evaluated, and decided to take Suzanna back, as she was clearly extremely anxious and relentlessly trying every appeasement behaviour in her repertoire on the Golden, who was becoming more and more defensive. Suzanna’s anxiety with other dogs was such that some of our dogs on the hill also turned on her and attacked her, viewing her as clearly unstable. She couldn’t safely live with our main pack of dogs, either.
We placed Suzanna with our Porch Dogs, a group of older, calm and balanced dogs and considered her a Sanctuary dog as she has such special needs for a home. We began training Suzanna, teaching her calm behaviours and using clicker and positive reinforcement. She improved, but still displayed a very high level of generalised anxiety. After much behavioural and environmental modification and training, and in consultation with various veterinarians and trainers, we decided to add Fluoconizole to her treatment. After several months of carefully monitored treatment, Suzanna’s anxiety has decreased and she is a much calmer and happier dog (and we have been able to reduce her dosage, as well).
Suzanna requires a calm, quiet home with a steady and predictable routine. We recently found a home that fits this criteria in Guatemala city with a wonderful man named Fernando. Fernando recently lost his beloved senior dog, and was looking for a new companion to share his life. Suzanna is on trial adoption with him and thus far she is doing extremely well as an only dog. She loves being the centre of attention and is thriving in his quiet home. She is wonderful company for this gentleman, and they are forging a great friendship. We continue to be involved with both of them and will be “on call” for Suzanna for the remainder of her life, which we hope will be long and happy one with her lovely friend and caretaker, Fernando.