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|Melissa Carter: A dog with special needs and a special spirit|
|by Melissa Carter|
|December 09, 2011 00:00|
When enough pressure is applied, a piece of coal turns into a diamond. In nature, this process takes a great deal of time. But I saw this same process happen in a matter of days with GiGi.
A couple of years ago, Katie and I adopted a special-needs dog from Adopt-A-Golden Atlanta. GiGi is epileptic and suffers seizures periodically. Based on first impressions, she didn’t seem to be a dog that people were rushing to adopt.
When we first met her she wouldn’t even look at us and withdrew to the protective legs of her foster family. After we adopted her, she spent the first few days hiding in the corner of our kitchen. Her silence and reclusive nature is how she earned the name GiGi after the famed recluse and silent film actress Greta Garbo.
I had never witnessed a seizure and wasn’t sure what to expect from an epileptic animal. That inaugural event happened one day while I was asleep.
I woke up to an odd scratching noise in the closet. Initially, I assumed the noise was one of our cats but then the noise had a cadence to the scratching that seemed abnormal. Then I realized GiGi was having a seizure.
The seizure lasted about a minute and then she trotted out of the closet, mouth dripping with foam, as if nothing had happened. I cleaned her off and apologized to her before giving her that day’s medicine early.
She drank some water, ate her food, and seemed unbothered by the experience. I, on the other hand, was nauseous with concern and watched her closely the rest of the day.
Later that evening, as GiGi was asleep, another seizure happened. Sixty seconds. All muscles out of control. Full excretion from most orifices. Then, she was up and trotting as if nothing had happened. Two more seizures followed that night.
Through the next few days, I witnessed a new bond emerge through our house.
We have three other animals, a dog and two cats, who all witnessed Gigi’s seizures. Whenever each seizure occurred, the other animals seemed to gather around GiGi in support.
They stood far enough away to avoid actually touching her but close enough to immediately comfort her as soon as it was over. Katie and I also found ourselves more protective of GiGi than ever and proud of her too.
Today her seizures are rare, even though her last bought occurred just a few weeks ago. But her resilience is inspiring. Every time I see her jump up after her seizure, I see a strength in her that I didn’t notice when I first met that awkward and shy puppy.
GiGi has taught me that we often mistake traits like shyness, hesitation or detachment as indicators of weakness. But in reality, those traits are usually there for a reason.
GiGi started out of the gate with obstacles. Her epilepsy is most likely genetic and being raised in a puppy mill didn’t help her confidence. She was twice adopted by families who returned her because of her medical issues. Ultimately, she was rescued by an organization that saw something in her and allowed us to bring her into our home. Her struggles have made her an inspiration but they also explain the traits that made her seem awkward and shy.
They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and this little diamond has become mine.
Melissa Carter is former co-host of “The Bert Show” on Q100, where she broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in the city and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Keep up with her at www.melissatimes.com.
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