Sometimes the perfect dog comes into our life exactly when we need them. Dogs seem to have a way of finding the home that is exactly right for them, as if they are angels sent to do a specific job. I have never thought that more than after reading this wonderful story from a woman whose dog made such a dramatic difference in her life.
Monika Lange in Redwood writes about a German Shepherd mix that brought everything she ask for into her home. Monika has Multiple Sclerosis and as her ability to walk deteriorated, she simply stopped leaving home. She had always had an active life and thought of driving around in a wheelchair was torturous. She knew though that she should go outside and wondered getting an assistance dog. Perhaps then she could go for a walk, with her dog.
She began researching her possibilities, but was disappointed by the 5-8 year wait for a specially trained canine companion. She wanted a dog right now! So she began to search for a rescue dog and found Ondine, a three-year-old German Shepherd-Rottweiler mix from a shelter, living in a foster home in Berkeley.
Ondine made a big impression in on the Lange household. Monika ordered a motorized scooter, so excited about the prospect of going out with Ondine that she set aside her previous fears. In the five years that passed Monika taught Ondine to pick up her cane when it fell and for Ondine to bring her collar, leash. On summer mornings Ondine would choose the sandals Monika would wear–red or blue. Sometimes she got fancy wanting to dress me in one of each and I needed to help her decide which single color to pick. Finally, they would go for a walk. People often stopped them to chat. Many admired Ondine and Monika was no longer ashamed of her scooter. At times she even forgot she wasn't walking but sitting on a once-so-dreaded mobility device.
Ondine kept Monika company during the day, sitting with her on the sundeck. During the afternoons, Monika worked on the computer and Ondine took a nap close by. Ondine protected Monika, and the house, barking furiously at strangers, growling, and looking very mean. She made Monika feel safe.
When Monika's husband arrived home from work, it was the highlight of Ondine's day. She knew not to jump on Monika, but Monika writes, "now she could finally leap, prance and hop, twirl, spin and turn in a jitterbug of canine joy. Her true master was home!". Eventually, no matter how tired he was, Ondine would convince her master to go outside for a walk and to get some exercise. She would bring him his walking shoes and then she would bring the leash and wait patiently for him to take the hint. Ondine got Monika out of the house and her husband walking after dinner. She was their wonderful dog, their miracle worker.
Ondine lost her short but painful battle with cancer on January 19, 2006. She had been faithful and protective of those she loved until the last day. She had never let Monika down. Monika says that, "Like no other dog before, she had changed my life!" Monika is raising a new puppy, but Ondine will never be forgotten.