How I met your dog.

Oh my, what a week.

Last weekend, I went for a romantic getaway in the Georgian mountains. On the final hike, right before our departure, we were admiring a gorgeous vista of Kazbegi Peak from a high-altitude patch of grass we found. A stray dog appeared out of thin air, limped past us and lay beside me with a quiet composure I rarely felt. Upon a closer look, I saw a massive open wound in her armpit and a broken wrist on the same leg she couldn't use. There were a few more minor wounds, but the large one looked daunting. It felt like she came there to die or ask for help. Perhaps both.

We carried her off the mountain, into the car and took her to the nearest town. We tried to clean the wounds, but she was not into it, and we lacked the skills. That's when we realised she was in heat, as all the stray males came rushing to mount her. She was highly polite yet firm in driving them away. There was no vet nearby, the nearest being 3 hours away in Tbilisi, and I don't have a place in my life for a pet, with the instability and the constant moving around. Despite that, I had to help her, so we loaded her in the car and brought her to the vet.

My lady was very excited, but that emotion quickly changed when the vet told us we must amputate her paw. It is hard to describe that feeling of having to decide something that serious on behalf of a conscious creature you've just met. We ran some tests on her and found out that she was young and in surprisingly good health for a street dog. We left her in the hospital and asked for a second opinion from an orthopedist. We named her Begi in honour of the Kazbegi mountain where she found us.

The next day, the surgeon and the orthopedist proposed a route to save her paw. It was five times as expensive as the amputation and ten times as long, with no guarantee of success. We decided to go for it. We left the dog for the first wound clean-up surgery. The vet opened all her wounds, cut away the necrosis, and cleaned up all the dirt and infection. After three nights in the hospital, we finally took her home for her initial round of recovery.

The first couple of days, it's been gruesome in my house. I am not used to daily contact with blood, shit and tears. My girl missed her flight back to help; we've been doing our best caring for that poor doggo. She kept the resistance up, ripping her bondages, constantly trying to lose the cone and get more freedom, but with time, we won her trust. Begi became increasingly animated as days went by, showing incredible improvement in her energy levels and training. I also became significantly more skilled in changing her bandages, cleaning the wounds and ensuring she didn't freak out while I was at it.

The other day, we took her back for vaccination and a quick examination by the vet. Begi got her first passport and first four vaccines. Despite being quite old, her wounds have shown significant signs of healing. We are scheduled for the subsequent surgery in a week, where the vet will use some artificial pig skin to close her massive wound. If that goes well, we will be on a home stretch for the most significant surgery, where an orthopedist will break her crooked wrist and place two support plates, making her paw almost normal.

In the meantime, I have this smelly ball of fur living on my terrace, demanding love, food and care a few times daily. I should be looking for a new home for her already. However, contemplating life without her is getting more complex every day.

Thirteen years on the run. Musings and observations from a quadruple refugee who fled Russia in 2010 never to return. Since then, I've lived in Chisinau, Munich, London and LA, searching for that feeling of home. I found it in Kyiv but was again forced out of there by the same dark power. This publication is my journal, documenting a life searching for a voice.

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