Betty Boop is my ten-year-old designer breed/mutt, who came to me with severe neurological disorders. When I drove to Anaheim to pick up Betty Boop, I knew she was a special-needs dog. I also knew that I could help. I was determined to improve the quality of her health and her life with good nutrition and positive thinking. But I was unaware of her blindness, unaware of the seizures to come, unaware of the water on her brain, the necessary medicines, and ultimately the amount of care this tiny puppy would require. I was also unaware of the qualities I would soon discover in myself, qualities that Betty Boop would help reveal.
In no time I discovered Betty Boop enjoyed being held and would spend a few minutes squirming in my arms before settling on a comfortable position and drifting off to sleep. When she was truly happy, she'd cock her head and stick her tongue out slightly—staring through blind eyes. I've questioned my decisions a million times and have often been overwhelmed by the demands of caring for her, but when Betty Boop, all of just over three pounds, tilts her head and gives me that expression of contentment, my doubts vanish.
In 2007 we had a brain scan done to get a better picture of Betty Boop's true condition. The staff besieged me afterwards in the waiting room with questions: What are you feeding her? How are you able to take care of her? How is it this dog is even alive? Seeing my bewildered expression, somebody finally let me know what the scan revealed: Betty Boop has less than one-percent functional brain matter. It seemed impossible. By everything known to science Betty Boop should not have survived past a year. Whatever it is you're doing, the staff said, keep doing it.
In my opinion, it's no great secret. Betty Boop simply has the will to live. She responds well to me and she eats and drinks on her own. She perks up when I
come home from travel and always seems comforted by my presence and my touch.
Since business travel is sometimes unavoidable, I have come to rely on an amazing dog sitter. Caring for dogs is her passion, and she has many clients to show for it. When I'm on the road, she'll visit three times a day to make sure Betty Boop takes her medications, in addition to being there to care for all the other members of the family.
Making sure Betty Boop gets her necessary medications continues to be paramount. Her very life depends on it. Everyone gets fed around Betty Boop's schedule with Betty Boop getting fed last. While her Kibble floats and becomes soft enough for her, I change her bedding and begin laundry. While she eats, I sit on the steps to keep an eye on her while I give the other dogs some attention.
Betty Boop, as you might imagine, can be quite the messy eater and when she's done, Mr. MaGoo and Carla Mae race for the leftovers. Nine times out of ten, Mr. MaGoo gets there first.
Betty Boop has moments of stunning progress. This past Christmas she broke out walking in a straight line—like a normal dog. It was our Christmas miracle. She wasn't able to maintain it for long, but it showed me what could happen with a little nurturing, a little encouragement, and a lot of love. Her fate has been uncertain, at best, but she remains a living, breathing miracle in our lives today.