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My Lana Girl

The Beginning (2011):
August 29, 2020, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Lana's Story

My mother had just passed away from Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) two months previously (September 2011). My father had passed away when I was 13. In December of that year I was 22 years old and I was graduating from college with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting and I hadn’t a clue how I was going to continue onward without a family after my mother’s passing.

But I knew I needed a dog.

I needed a companion, a dog that would get me up in the mornings and sleep near me at nights. A dog that would lick my tears away and make me laugh at the darnedest things.

Having grown up on a small horse farm I wanted a bigger dog with a big personality, but one that wanted to be with its person. I wanted a dog that was upbeat but could still snuggle and watch movies. I didn’t have the energy in me for a super high energy breed (herding / german short hair / etc) as I was still struggling with grief and depression. Growing up we always had labradors on our farm, but my boyfriend at the time (now husband) suggested a Boxer or Boxer mix type dog. He had spent time volunteering at an animal shelter in the Kansas City Metro area and had encountered far more dog breeds than my limited exposure and the myriad of dog personality types out there.

My first response when he said a Boxer-type breed would be the perfect breed for me was, “What? But they are kind of ugly!” (Yes, I’ll admit – I hadn’t a clue back then just how wrong I was.) Still, he persisted, “No, that type of dog is perfect for you. Look, here’s one – let’s take a look at her.” He was looking on a rescue website and showed me Lana’s portrait.

“6 month old Boxer Mix Female dog with Anxiety. Demodectic Mange. Will need Ivermectin and continued veterinarian care.”

My response to him: “No way, that’s not what I’m looking for.”

His response to me:  “Let’s just go see her and then we can see other dogs at other places after. Come on.” 

He dropped me off to visit Lana (then Alana…I was obviously SO very creative with her name) and said he’d run a few errands and pick me back up in about an hour.

I remember the first time I saw Lana in that busy area of kennels in the middle of a store. The struggling rescue organization (it closed soon after I got Lana) was having an adoption event and Lana was in a wire crate, curled up, just a tiny broken looking thing. I announced I was the one who inquired about her and they quickly got her out, gave me her leash, and told me to just spend some time with her around the store.

So, Lana and I walked. She was full of nervous energy as she glanced at other people in the busy store. But she kept close to me on her leash. I found a quieter area and sat down so I could see her better and she sat up close to me. Lana was trembling, but even still, she politely leaned forward and licked my face.

If you’ve never smelled a dog with Demodectic Mange it’s hard to describe the smell – but the best thing I can think of is ” musty diseased flesh”. It’s this kind of putrid oder, slightly foul. The organization was struggling to take care of Lana; they had gotten her quite a ways from where she was, but Ivermectin is expensive. And Lana had a lot of issues going on. I sat on the floor with her and just kind of knew if I didn’t take this dog home with me she might not make it.

And I had her leash now wrapped tightly in my hand. I wasn’t about to leave her and I think she felt that, because she was glued to me just as much if not more so. When my boyfriend showed back up to pick us up I was already filling out adoption paperwork and getting a list of care she would need and off we went together to start our journey.


That night we learned just how bad Lana was with her immune system fight for survival. 


While snuggling with Lana on the floor of my boyfriend’s apartment I thought I saw something crawling on her skin. A tiny bug. And then I thought I saw another. For a bit, we snuggled more until I began to realize what they were – fleas. We quickly scooped her up and put her in his bathtub, lathered her up with Dawn dish soap as it was late and we didn’t have access to flea shampoo. As the suds built we began to see hundreds – honestly, maybe even thousands of fleas escaping her fur. Lana just kept her eyes locked on me. My boyfriend and I lathered her over and over again until we felt we’d gotten the majority of the fleas suffocated with suds and washed away from her.

Wrapped in a towel, Lana fell asleep beside my boyfriend’s dog Hektor. And that night, before we even really knew it, we all became a forever family.


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