"I loved him before I met him. I first saw him on Facebook, and with those searching eyes, I knew I had to have him."
Editor's Note: Nicole Couture's story "Apollo" was written for the HCC Theater Department's spring 2021 production of "In These Times."
By NICOLE COUTURE
I loved him before I met him. I first saw him on Facebook, and with those searching eyes, I knew I had to have him.
There was something about him that just gave me this feeling that I couldn't ignore – an 8-month-old white pitbull.
I love dogs and I see a lot on Facebook who need rescuing. I initially commented on the post how beautiful he was and that I would love the chance to give him a good life and a forever home. But, he was in Illinois, and I live in Chicopee. So, I did one of the hardest things I had ever done. A good friend and I drove to Pittsburgh, P.A., to meet the owner's friend halfway, a 24-hour roundtrip with all the stops. The date was 9/11 and I remember that for obvious reasons.
The first time I met him he was so scared of everything and everyone. Initially he was afraid of my boyfriend, TJ. We figured he was afraid of men. However, with patience and love, Apollo grew to love and trust us.
Skyy, my 4year-old pitbull was a little unsure of him but Apollo won her over. They learned from each other. Apollo learned to play with toys (he had no idea what a toy was for, but he taught Skyy to wrestle, which had not been her favorite activity). Their favorite game was to chase each other in circles under the bed and chew each other's toes and ears. Apollo helped Skyy get over her car anxiety because Apollo enjoyed the car. Following Skyy's lead, Apollo learned "paw" and "sit" in no time. Within a week, Apollo was a completely different dog. He was not so afraid. Very quickly, Apollo had all of our hearts in his paws. I was gloriously happy knowing that I had done the right thing bringing Apollo back to Massachusetts to live a happy, healthy, and loving life with Skyy, TJ, and me.
We quickly took the dogs for check-ups – Skyy was her usual not so agreeable self with the vet, but Apollo let the vet check him over completely. The staff commented on what a sweet dog he was. We were so happy.
After a complete work over, the vet said he had renal dysplasia, which meant he was born with severely underdeveloped kidneys, What? He had had two or three previous homes before he came to me, none of which had gotten him the care he needed, resulting in severe damage to his kidneys. This left him with six months to live ... if he was lucky. Are you kidding me? We were stunned. This smaller than average white dog who had the name of the Greek god of archery, music and dance, truth and prophecy and healing was sick? We vowed to commit ourselves to do everything in our power to help him.
For Halloween, they wore their costumes proudly. Apollo was dressed as a hot dog because in our eyes he was HOT, and Skyy was an avocado. When they played it looked like a food fight.
Election day, we voted and went to the park, but Apollo was not his usual self. We took him to the vet. The vet said that he would not recover and that we needed to put him down. Just like that? I felt in my heart that it was not his time. No! We chose to do everything we could to buy him some more time. We put up our Christmas tree early, and bought the dogs matching Christmas sweaters. Apollo was mesmerized by all the colors and lights on the tree, and it was immediately his favorite nap spot. Like a gift under the tree, he was our gift. That evening Apollo was out of sorts. We were afraid to take him to the vet because we knew what that could mean. After several hours of tears, hugs, and trying to get him to eat something, we nervously and reluctantly took him to the vet. We knew.
Apollo gave me laughs, joy, and love. For a few months, I had my own little white Greek god. Thank you, Apollo.