“I won’t let my heart turn into something ugly. I will show you that surviving can be beautiful.” - Christy Ann Martine
There are experiences in our lives, the kind that provide meaning and context, that help shape who we are. Some of those moments and experiences are incredibly beautiful.... your first kiss, your wedding day. Others, can be quite tragic. It is not any one particular moment however, that defines who we are or who we become. Rather, collectively - the good and the bad - help shape and mold us into who we want to be.
Life is full of highs and lows and they often come in waves. Life can be perfect and then suddenly, your heart breaks from a failed relationship or the loss of a loved one. Our lives are upended over an unexpected illness, or for some it becomes abuse. We do not all experience the same kind of lows, but no one - not a single, living soul on this earth - is immune to tragedy.
We are all survivors in our own right. Even animals. But what does it take to survive?
In early October of 2017, a sweet girl named Ava made her way into a dog shelter in Houston, Texas and she found herself fighting for her life. Ava was just a puppy of roughly six months old, a stunning white beauty believed to be an American Staffordshire Terrier-mix who had somehow survived horrific abuse.
Ava would eventually be renamed Bubbles, but truthfully not much is known about what led to her early fate. She was an "owner surrender," though it was never made clear exactly who that person was or what their relationship to Bubbles was at the time she was given up. The only information provided was, "someone attempted to kill her by shooting her in the head. When the gunshot failed to do its intended job, she was beaten - nearly to death - with a hammer."
Given the gravity of her wounds, Bubbles was immediately placed on a euthanasia list. She had been dropped off at the shelter in the wake of Hurricane Harvey when shelters were already overwhelmed. And who would want a dog with a hole in her head anyway? But a local rescue heard about Bubbles and stepped in at the last moment. They took a chance on a baby girl who had been failed by people her entire life.
Bubbles was only with the rescue for about a week before melting the heart of the person who would become her new mom. She was volunteering at an emergency, makeshift shelter following Hurricane Harvey and here was baby Bubbles, with unspeakable injuries to her little face, who melted into the chest of the stranger before her. Her new mom never stood a chance, and a few days later Bubbles was settling into her forever home.
But her recovery was far from over. Once in her new home, a CT scan revealed that Bubbles still had the bullet in her head and had been shot point blank in her right eye. The bullet had traveled into her ear canal, completely shattering it. Her temporomandibular joint (TMJ) had also been fragmented, likely when she was beaten with a hammer. The TMJ acts as a sliding hinge connecting the jawbone to the skull and the bone fragments in Bubbles' jaw had already begun to calcify together leaving her with the inability to open her mouth beyond half an inch. Bubbles was just a puppy and had already been stripped of the joys of being young. She had difficulty eating and drinking, which certainly left no room for treats or playing with toys. She could not even bark.
Bubbles lost her right eye and would require two surgeries to repair the damage to her jaw. Yet through it all, she showed a strength and will to overcome her tragedies that is rarely seen among any living creature. Despite everything she went through, she never let it break her spirit or harden her soul. Today she is a bright, sunny ray of sunshine that forces her way through on a cloudy day. She brings happiness to everyone she meets and in spite of her trauma, has never greeted a single person without a gentle touch and kiss.
For most people, the thought of inflicting intentional pain on another living being is unfathomable. It simply does not exist in our worlds. And when we hear stories like Bubbles,' we desperately seek answers. Who was that person who dropped her off at the shelter? Are they the cause of her pain and suffering? If not them, then who? Was it driven by mental illness? Was it pure evil? The truth is, we will probably never know why events like this occur. But it is a sad reality that this type of cruelty and abuse happens daily. People hurt people. People hurt animals, and no species on earth is immune to tragedy and pain.
So what does it take to survive? Even after Bubbles was adopted and on the road to recovery, her future was unclear. Would she have any kind of quality of life? Now, nearly three years after Bubbles was surrendered in an abhorrent condition, she is the kind of loving and sweet-natured dog every family dreams of. At just 6 months old, she held on and fought with everything she had to survive. Maybe it was sheer luck. Or maybe... she wasn't going to let her abuser define her life.
The highs... the lows... the good... the bad... all of it is what led Bubbles to the life she was always meant for.
To keep up with Bubbles and her daily adventures, please follow her on Instagram.