Letter to Lisa

So here it is 2 weeks later and I'm still thinking about you.
It all started in recovery, that's where we first met.
It was hectically busy for me that day, as always. I hustled into the recovery room to retrieve a recently sterilized dog for an adopter or a foster, the particular dog or person it was for I cannot recall, only that I was in recovery to get someone's dog.
Partially laying on your side, partially sitting upright, in a bottom corner cage with big doe eyes, and an even bigger belly, you caught my eye. Then I took a quick moment to consciously focus my attention on you.
You looked like a deer caught in the headlights, almost frozen, nearly expressionless. The fact that you looked and acted a lot like a dog I had fostered months ago and seeing your big, protruding belly brought on an instant surge of nearly-overwhelming empathy.
"I'll be back to see you. Tomorrow I'll get you out, I promise. Hang in there," I said to you, almost sternly. I needed you to be strong... for your own good.
At home that night you crossed my mind a couple of times. -Interacting with you as I had promised gave me something great to look forward to for the following day.
It's always that way for me; the animals make me want to, need to, get to work day after day.
The promise of the possibility to save a life, the sense of obligation I feel towards all of you pets is immensely powerful.
And committing to working on a particular dog is something I take very seriously... it's something I 'take on.'
There are interludes in which I try not to become personally involved with particular dogs in this manner. The deep level of involvement, the intensely emotional liability of it all can be nearly too much to handle. Knowing how devastating it is to lose one of you that I've been working with personally can make me shy away from this level of personal involvement but... it never lasts.
These anti-personal-involvement-interludes typically have a 3-5 day duration before I'm 'on to the the next one;' my love for you is simply so much greater than my fear of being burned by your loss.
With you Lisa, I had made a verbal commitment to get you out of your cage, but an even greater, unspoken commitment to get you out of the shelter.
"DOES NOT WALK ON LEASH" was written in red sharpie on your kennel card.
OK, I thought, let's see how well pregnant me can coerce pregnant you to walk- not very well.
But with some pulling, gentle insisting and positive vibration (forget your positive reinforcement with a dog that's this fearful) we did manage our way out of recover, down the short hallway and out the door to... freedom. -Sort of like freedom, the little fenced in play area, it was the most free you'd been since arriving at Animal Services anyhow.
For you Lis, the positive effect of being outside was immediate and tangible. You softened.
Your body relaxed a bit.Your mouth opened, as you breathed rapidly but easily. This is how you needed to be breathing, you would be birthing pups soon.
You took cover in a corner facing real freedom behind a plastic garbage can. You felt safe there and I let you be.
15 minutes or so passed. A lovely retired married couple of shelter volunteers were there with us in the yard, socializing other dogs. The other dogs' presence only put you more at ease. After all, you had been 'found' running free with a pack of feral dogs. You and those dogs were caught and brought to Animal Services.
You, Lisa, were a dogs' dog, oppose to a mans' dog. You preferred the company of your own kind and I can't say I blame you.
Not wanting to rush you but not wanting to neglect my other work duties, I asked the couple if you could stay out with them for a while. They kindly obliged and you were out 45 minutes or so before we had to put you up.
Another day, similar scenario. A different shelter volunteer (one that loves mommy dogs so much) and I took you out. You were once again content just to be outside. That day you even had a bath by two mommy-loving volunteers/fosters.
I had sent an email plea to shelter fosters on your behalf; you along with a couple of other nursing mommies were featured in the email. You were the only one still pregnant of the group. You seemed to be in the earliest stages of labor and just a day or so from birthing your puppies.
I felt hope for you Lisa. There was talk that you could go to one foster's home as soon as she could place her other foster.
Then, on Friday morning (my mom and grandma would be coming in town that Friday night) I received a text stating, "they killed the white, pregnant mommy."
The volunteer/foster that had met, loved and wanted to help you too sent me the text. She was at the shelter before me.
"No," I said aloud as my stomach sank, my shoulders following.
My boyfriend said, "What?"
I told him about you, while crying.
"That job is too much on you, you get so upset. it's not good for you," he said.
He didn't understand how I felt. How could he? How could I?
This all happened in the span of a week and I did not see it coming, at all.
My grandmother and mom were here for 3 days. I didn't mention you to them. What would I say? But I assure you Lis, you were on my mind that whole time.
It was strange. I felt like you weren't really gone, probably because I didn't take or have time to mourn you.
I looked up the person that put you to sleep. I looked at the dosage you were given.
I asked the clinic supervisor, "Shouldn't she have been given extra dosage since she was extremely pregnant and had fetuses inside of her?"
She said no, that your babies died quickly once you stopped breathing.
That's hard for me to comprehend.
 I imagined your babies inside of you, breathing amniotic fluid, alive and well, moving around.. .alive, only to suffocate inside of your deceased body.
 I couldn't help but seeing you in my mind's horrified eye, being eased into a bio-hazard garbage bag, tossed onto a truck with other bodies.
I'm sorry Lisa. It does you no justice to speak of such horror.
You were an inspiration to me.
You touched my heart.
Seeing how naturally and beautifully you breathed, labor-type of breathing, seeing how at ease you were in nature, how at ease you were with your big belly, how in tune you were with nature, how gentle you were, how much you wanted to trust, how you just needed time... you inspired me.
You are one of my pregnancy role models girl. I still think of you.
Though it may sound corny, though no one may believe me- I will think of you, and will do my best to birth my baby naturally and with dignity as you would have birthed yours. I'm sorry you didn't have the chance to birth yours Lis but I promise I will do my very best birthing mine in your honor and memory. -Promise.

Lisa, enjoying time outside.

Originally written a couple of weeks ago, on paper.