Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Not Just Puppy Love

It's not just puppy love because they're not just puppies. To me, my dogs are so much more than pets. They're little children who walk on all fours, eat whatever I give them and gaze at me with complete and utter adoration. Adoration that I think I mostly don't deserve. I've been a bad mommy lately.

My little chubby, round Ruby with the googly eyes. I've noticed her collar getting a little tighter lately so I took it off the other night to see if it would expand any further. It didn't, it was as large as it will go, which means I know what Santa needs to bring now. The guilt set in when I saw that all of the hair had been rubbed off of the part of her neck covered by the latch on the collar and there was a small red, raw spot growing in the middle of it. That had to be very uncomfortable and yet she never complained. Not a whimper, not a sigh.

Remy took a trip to the vet yesterday. His ear has been smelling a bit off lately and over the weekend he started scratching it and shaking his head frequently. Monday night he would yelp when scratching. Yelp and then come bouncing over to me with his regular enthusiasm and zest.

I wasn't looking forward to going to the vet, hadn't anticipated that expense this month, and am currently broke like the rest of America. But he's my little boy, he was in pain so I bundled him up in his nicest coat and off we went. My boy was so proud to be looking so handsome and to be taking a ride that didn't have to be shared with his little sister. Little sisters can be so annoying.

The vet took one look into his ear and declared that yes, it did look very bad. She took a couple of swabs and discussed our options. Her preferred choice was to let it culture at the lab, which would tell her exactly what bacteria was present, but this alone would cost $100. The second option was to start him on a treatment that sometimes has a side effect of liver damage and requires a blood test to determine if it can even be given. Neither choice sounded great, so I was relieved when she told me they could start with a stain that would show if any bacteria was actually present and then do further testing if needed. I went with that one and we were sent back out to the waiting room.

While sitting there, an elderly couple came in. Her shoulders were shaking from crying, his hand was on her back. Neither spoke and the vet tech came quickly to get them and take them back. It was clear that they were losing someone they loved very much. I looked at my Remy, he looked at me and I was grateful to be there for only an ear infection. I know the day will come when I have a much more difficult decision to make, but not today. Thank God it's not today.

Our vet came out to tell us that there was definitely bacteria present and we were given an antibiotic along with an ointment to help with the pain. If he's not greatly improved by Monday, he will have to be sedated so that his ear can be flushed out. Keeping fingers crossed that the medicine works quickly and is all he needs.

I brought Remy back to work with me as it was the end of the day and I wanted to avoid making another trip home before I finished what I needed for an hour or so. This delighted him beyond words. A new place, with new smells and people crowding around lavishing attention on him? Any time he gets to be treated like the the rock star that he truly is makes his day. At my desk, he laid down next to me and received compliments on what a Good Boy he is. I was actually astounded that he was so well behaved, but I pretended that he is always like that. Remy? Oh yes, he is a Very Good Boy. He never jumps spastically, never licks uncontrollably or uninvited, never makes a peep. Wink, wink.

I am completely, ridiculously in love with my dogs. They are an endless source of comfort to me now. I ask next to nothing of them. Going potty outside and staying off the couch isn't too much to ask, is it? All they ask from me is to be allowed to snuggle, cover me in kisses and if I wouldn't mind sharing a bite of meat or cheese now and then. It's really the most uncomplicated relationship and the most rewarding. I think it's also the most unequal as they give me far more than I give them. I will never be deserving of the sheer joy with which I am greeted or the deep, deep love I see in their eyes.

So I will make the trips to the vet. Clean the dog hairs off of my clothes, my sheets, the floor. I will pay for medicine. I will pay for vaccines. I will clean up "accidents." Because it is a privilege being in their lives, an honor to be so loved and so trusted. Because it's the least I can do. Because the day will come when I can't and I will have to say goodbye.


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