Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Dimes, Dogs, and Dear Ones
“Well, I think we’ve figured out what’s wrong with him” said the emergency veterinarian as she snapped Wilderness Dog Sammy’s x-rays onto the lightboard. And while I’m no animal doctor myself, it seemed pretty clear to me as well. His discomfort, no doubt, had something to do with that shiny coin-shaped object, lodged mid-dog.
Dammit, Sam. What were you thinking?
I love dogs. And as I get older I appreciate them more and more while thinking less and less of their masters. I like dogs because they live in the moment, make the most of their lot in life, love us unconditionally, and do simple things that make sense…
… most of the time.
Wilderness Dog Sammy, our nine-year-old timber wolf attitude packed into a Yorkshire terrier's body, stepped away from that “most of the time” earlier this month and gave us a pretty good scare.
Mary and I had plans to go out on Cinco de Mayo to sample a margarita, maybe two, with friends, but Sammy, who had been acting sort of wimpy for a couple of days, began to look bad. Stumbling about on unsteady legs with an arched back and swollen stomach, he needed to be looked at - immediately - so we called our apologies and headed for the after-hours vet. While the initial manual examination failed to determine his problem, the radiographs left little doubt. He'd been a bad dog.
Unable to be absolutely certain if it was a penny or a dime that was lodged in Sammy's stomach, and knowing that either was probably too large to pass quickly in the normal fashion, the vet immediately sent us up the road to the School of Veterinary Medicine at NC State. Her fear was that a penny would quickly begin leaching zinc into his system, potentially causing serious harm to such a small dog - especially one with already compromised liver function. (That's a story for another day. Let’s just say that he’s a miracle dog, of sorts, partly because of that timber wolf attitude and partly thanks to one darn fine vet. Thanks, Shelly.) Bottom line, the sooner the coin got out, the better.
Two days and a pair of endoscopies later, Wilderness Dog was back at home, a dime lighter than when he left. (I wish I could say that we were only a dime lighter.) Thankfully, it wasn't the dreaded penny and they were able to fish the coin out via the route that it was introduced, thus avoiding surgery and the long recovery that it would have precipitated. In the end, we are relieved to have him home, happy and healthy again, ready to keep the yard clear of squirrels, deer, and, most importantly, feral ten-cent pieces.
And dogs are on my mind a lot today as, on a sadder note, this morning I had the somber task of helping my sister lay to rest her beloved companion of thirteen years, Abby. A feisty terrier mix herself, Abby has been my sister's constant companion - at home, in the truck, in the boat - as well as Sammy's best friend.
We will all miss her, Sis, but I know that you will hurt the most. I hope that it helps to know that she’s chasing that dog-eared blue Frisbee like a puppy once again, in Dog Providence.
And if he decides to “change” his diet again, Sammy might just be chasing it with her.