Mojo’s Magical Ride is about a rescued dog named Mojo, who came from a life of chaos and filth, and who lost his ability to walk, but never his ability to love. He had an enormous heart and smile that he shared with everyone he met. His story of courage and love was written in the hopes of continuing to educate people about rescue animals and ones with special needs, to show that any challenge can be overcome with tremendous spirit and strength, and to help people better understand how they give back something we should never take for granted, unconditional love.
For many months, I was vacillating about whether to stay in Alaska or move back to New York. I was looking for a sign or something that would pull me to stay. That sign came on October 18, 2009. That was the day Mojo arrived.
Along with six other Malamutes, Mojo was transported from Homer from dire conditions. We were told that he would be very difficult because of his incessant barking. Well he was a challenge at first. He would charge at us, barking fiercely. Within the first few hours of coming to the SPCA, he was trying to dig himself out. We had to lay concrete blocks on either side of the fences and used leashes to tighten them up as well. We also noticed that he had a severe impairment with his back legs. He seemed to drag them at times and lose his balance with his hips.
After a few days of habituating to the SPCA, there was dogfight between Mojo and Sammy. Both dogs were hurt and needed some medical attention. In order to avoid further fights, we quickly worked together as a team and separated the big yard into two yards. Mojo was with Bob and each of them stayed in their respective doghouses. To help the animals acclimate to humans, I spend time just sitting with them, singing to them or speaking softly to them. It is imperative to me that I listen to their needs and do all actions at their pace. Mojo was the first to come around. I will never forget the day that Mojo showed who he really was. I was in the yard one Saturday, when all of sudden he came charging out of his doghouse at me. My heart was racing a million miles per hour (even though I believe I have a positive strong connection with animals, I respect them to the highest power).
I was standing near the gate, when he came at me and then, he just leaned on me. That was it. The next weekend we were able to bring him inside, we just had to get a lead on him. Patiently, we were in the yard and with two attempts, he allowed me to place the lead around him. It was a magical moment. Then the beautiful walk inside. This was Mojo’s first moments of true warmth, a soft bed and lots and lots of love. This is why I feel so lucky to be a part of the SPCA. We are given the opportunity to give animals a second chance at a beautiful life. Showing them that people can be good and that they can be safe and well loved.
As time went on, Mojo became more and more loving. He would greet me by slapping me with his front paws, (he has knocked me down on several occasions). He would follow me everywhere and would only eat when I would stay with him. We thought that he would be at the shelter indefinitely, but then Katie D. so generously decided that she would try to foster him. The day that he went home with Katie was bittersweet. I ran over from work on my lunch to see him off. He was nervous about getting into the car, so I jumped in first. Off he went and boy was I sad. Then I said to myself to stop being selfish and realize that this is about Mojo being happy. He did very well at home when Katie was there, when she left that was another story. She tried to take him to the Thrift Store/Clinic, but he made his mark everywhere. As I continue to get to know Mojo, he tends to get nervous when he is somewhere new and unfamiliar. This usually results in going to the bathroom. Other animal’s smells probably did not help out either. He needs time to adjust and lots of reassurance that he is safe. I know that Katie is sad that it did not work out with Mojo because she truly loves him.
So, Mojo was back at the shelter and this I could not endure. I had to take action and shift my life. Now that I was staying in Alaska, it was time to find a home that would allow dogs. My current apartment would not allow them so I quickly searched and found a condo to buy that allows dogs and cats. Within one month’s time, I had a new home, one that was getting ready for Mojo.
Mojo has a disease called Degenerative Myelopathy – an inflammatory autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the dog’s Central Nervous System, resulting in loss of the myelin sheath and axons. After that happens, the nerves in the Spinal Cord are destroyed, the control pathways no longer exist, and the dog can no longer walk. He is in the earlier stages now and still able to walk, but I am trying to be proactive and prepare before it happens.
Now because of the myelopathy he needs assistance going up and down stairs and getting into the car. In order to help him get into the car, I needed to get a ramp to load him up. We practiced everyday, just getting in and sitting for while. I wanted him to feel comfortable and safe so he would be ready when he had to do the ride home. I also got a pet-barrier, because he would try to come up front and that would result in disaster, which helped out a lot.
Then I had to get the home and the cats ready for Mojo’s arrival. I had my Holiday break coming up (one of the perks of being a teacher) and knew that this would be the best time to bring him home and get him used to his new life. So on December 20, 2009, Mojo came home. Everyone was worried that he would have accidents and be destructive, but he proved everyone wrong. He is just the most amazing and wonderful animal. His transition to our home, has been nothing short of spectacular. He has made himself very comfortable with the many choices of places to lie down. My kitties, Zypho and Anpetu are adjusting to him, not snuggling yet (that will come later), but they are coming downstairs and showing themselves to him. He just looks at them and whimpers. He is just curious as to what they are. Zypho sometimes sits at the bottom of the stairs and just watches him. His head is lying on the bottom stair, just looking at her. It is very cute. Anpetu made his way into the kitchen the other day and did not panic when Mojo lifted his head. Progress is being made and I look forward to their further bonding. I am one of the luckiest people. They are all so beautiful and kind. Such fun. He has been excellent about letting me know when he needs to go to the bathroom and he sleeps through the night, oh so closely.
The Jeep I had was a good car, but it did not suit Mojo’s needs. I decided that it was time to upgrade and trade the Jeep in for something more suitable. After a few minutes of thinking, the mini-van seemed to be the perfect fit. I was able to trade my Jeep for a Caravan that is now known as the Mojo-B van J. He has a ton of room and comfortable, yet chic bedding. He rides very nicely in the van knows that it is his. Now in order to help him out, Lizz was allowing me to drop him off in the morning for the day at the shelter so that he would not be left alone. The week after I went back to work, he was acting kind of down. When I brought him in on Wednesday, January 13, 2010, he just went to day down and looked so sad. It made me cry, so I said, “All right you are coming with me!” So instead of leaving him, I brought him with me to work with me. I am able to park right outside my classroom so I can keep an eye on him. I get to go out about every 2 hours to snuggle and walk him. I am always worried about him being cold, but not with his coat. Lizz reassures me that he is fine. I also get to go and eat lunch with him. There is a park right next to the school, so we get to take walks there daily. We have had one run in with a moose, the moose was curious, Mojo was not.
We put together a box in the shelter to donate money towards a wheelchair for Mojo. But last weekend, we had very kind couple donate one. Patrick and Andrea Kuckertz lost their beloved Dusty the day before. Without even a moment of hesitation they brought the wheelchair over on Saturday. Though they were so sad, they wanted to meet Mojo and show me how to use the wheelchair. They told me that someone had given the wheelchair to them and that all they asked was that they pay it forward. People’s acts of kindness and generosity, never cease to amaze me. The wheelchair comes from the site I intended to purchase it from, Handicappedpets.com. The cart is adjustable so that part works, I ordered the rest of the parts to custom fit it for Mojo and soon he will be able to use his walking wheels. There was a dog in New York named Junior that I worked with at the ASPCA. He also had the same disease and his face would light up every time he saw the wheelchair. Junior had no use of his back legs at all, but boy he had a strong spirit. He was adopted out to very special people who came from Connecticut just for him. More magic. I know that Mojo will enjoy his wheelchair and together I plan to show him the world he never would have experienced. He is truly a blessing and I feel so lucky to have him in my life. His heart is a big as his spirit and I will treasure him forever.
Mojo passed away on August 11, 2010. He crossed over the Rainbow Bridge but is my daily inspiration to continue rescuing, rehabilitating and loving the animals who enter our world.