The K9 Cabin
By: Dave Rider
Throughout my life I have never been very good at finishing things. I am not really sure why that is. I have thought about it often, but can’t really come up with a good reason. It could be that I get frustrated by the fact that reality never quite lives up to my expectations, or that I just run out of energy, and become distracted by life. I am determined to finish the K9 Cabin.
When I first found out I had cancer, like most people would, I became very distraught. Almost every single conscious moment I felt the burden of knowing my demise was impending. That is a difficult thing for anyone to face, and very depressing. I needed to find something to help me redirect my focus.
I remember standing along the sloping hill that runs down to the large marsh behind my house. For several years, during the long winters of northern Michigan, I had stared out the window looking at the same spot, and thinking someday I will build myself a small cabin right there. It will be a great spot for me to use as an office, and put my thoughts on paper. Okay – okay, yes we are talking about a man cave. As I stood there my thoughts were redirected from the misfortune of having cancer to a vision of building a cabin. I knew then that I had to find a way.
I knew that it would be a lot of work, but I told myself to keep moving forward, and see what happens. I put some poles in the side of the hill, and was soon hard at work. There were long periods of inactivity as I received treatment, but my determination to finish something I started gave me the kick-start that I always needed to regain focus.
When I was told that I should no longer expect a cure since all of the treatment had failed to eliminate my cancer, I found it very difficult to continue. That is until my wife, Colleen, made a comment about my cabin. She said, “I know how much you really wanted this cabin, but I think we should think about turning it into a business. I knew she was right. I had sunk most of my savings into the project, and had been agonizing over the fact that my passing would leave my wife with no means of supporting herself.
The man cave began its transformation. The plans changed many times as the funds dwindled. The hard work has paid off, and the K9 cabin, although not yet finished, has become a very nice building. I intend to see it to its completion.
The intent of this story was not to talk about me, or my health, but I needed to let you know how the K9 cabin came to be. I wanted to let you know how special it is. Although I think the building is very beautiful, the most beautiful thing about it is the person who will be the proprietor.
Colleen has always loved animals. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this fact shine through by way of her actions. She has, many times, spent her day trying to find good homes for unwanted pets, and yes we have become that home on several occasions. Her love of animals is only surpassed by her love of her grandchildren. She is very passionate about the well-being of animals. Passionate to the point that she once stormed into a store on a hot summer day, and yelled to find the owner who locked a small dog in the vehicle as she was enraged by the thought of the suffering it must have been going through.
Colleen worked as a veterinarian assistant for seven years. She soaked in every bit of information she could as she assisted on surgeries, and the healing of sick, and sometime neglected animals. She loved her job, but nothing lasts forever. The vet she worked for retired.
Although the K9 Cabin is not completed, it is to the point that she has been able to board, train, and groom a few pets. I have helped her some, but mainly I have been watching and observing. As she arrived home from her first mobile grooming appointment she was very distraught. I asked her what was wrong. She told me that her heart was broken by the small dog. She went on to tell me that it was stressed to the point that she, herself, became emotional, and began to cry while she was trying to groom it. She said she had to stop several times to calm it, and that it obviously had a very bad experience with a groomer at some point. She told me that as she was crying she questioned whether, or not, she could do this. She managed to calm the dog, and finish the job.
We also had a dog stay with us recently that Colleen was able to determine, after a short observation, was very depressed. She decided that she needed to help it, and introduced it to our dogs. She encouraged it to interact while allowing them to play together in a small kiddie pool. I watched as she was able to get the dog to go from a listless sad animal to a tail-wagging happy one.
Then there is Willow… A puppy-mill dog that was emotionally damaged by the way she was treated as a puppy. Her owner called Colleen, and asked if she could help. Colleen asked her to bring Willow to the cabin, so that she could observe her. The owner was ready to re-home her. She had some very peculiar habits, and was struggling to fit in.
As Colleen and I observed Willow we were both heartbroken by what we saw. This beautiful little animal was disengaged with everything around her. You couldn’t talk to her, praise her, or get her to take a treat from your hand. She would stare ahead not respond to anything.
Colleen was very upset by the research she did, and the things that she learned about puppy mills. She even wondered if Willow was too damaged. She decided to try a few ideas she had to help Willow overcome her issues. After a few hours she seemed to begin to respond. Colleen pointed out a few small hurdles that Willow had started to show signs of overcoming.
Colleen and I were sitting in the office of the cabin while we were observing Willow. I tried, again, to use praise to get a response from Willow. Suddenly – this dog who, only hours earlier would not respond, raised her eyes while turning and looking at me as I said, “Willow are you a good girl?” Immediately, I turned to look at Colleen to see if she saw what just happened. We both smiled and talked for several minutes about how happy we were that there was hope for Willow. Colleen explained how that sign of Willow’s willingness to engage with us was very good.
Colleen returned Willow to her owner. She gave the owner some tips for handling Willow, and encouraged the owner to not give up on her because she showed signs of progress. Since then we have been informed that Willow is doing well.
The reason I decided to write about The K9 Cabin is that I really wanted to write about my wife’s passion. I so admire her. She is a remarkable woman with a heart of gold. Despite all she has been forced to deal with she continues to be strong. She takes care of me, and I know how hard that must be, but she refuses to let anything stop her in her pursuit of seeing her dream to completion. That is why that even though I may have lost my man cave I will continue to work to see The K9 Cabin completed. My wife deserves it much more than I do, and I love her dearly for all she does for me.
Please help her live her dream by supporting The K9 Cabin.