owl in winter

owl in winter

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Big Girl

The thing I love about dogs is their unreserved, unrestrained, unconditional love for their humans.

Having said that, what a week it has been.

My beloved lab-charpai mix, Sunny, has been sick. Last Sunday I took her to the Springfield Emergency Veterinary Hospital thinking she may be dying. Doctor there thought she had a urinary tract infection and an eye infection and prescribed antibiotics and eye drops.

She improved some for a few days and then she fell downhill really, really fast.

Both of us, the ER vet and me, had overlooked one simple, obvious fact. She's never been spayed. She's ten years old. I can't blame him any more than I blame myself for overlooking that fact.

So, when I called my regular vet, Dr. Molly, yesterday and told her that Sunny's not eating, she's drinking copious amounts of water, she's peeing like a racehorse, I was told to get her in and get her in now, which of course, I did. Dr. Molly did some testing and came back and said, it could be polymetra or, it could be kidney failure. Polymetra presents certain problems in a dog this age; surgery could be dangerous. Should the uterus be punctured during surgery, all that bacteria could spill into the abdominal cavity and she could die on the table. Kidney failure, not a whole lot going on there that's positive. Let me test some more. Of course, yes, yes. As I sat in the exam room, I felt as if the world was falling apart around me. My dearest and best friend of ten years is stuck in a cage somewhere behind closed doors and this day, the 6th day of March may be the last day I ever know her. Would I even see her again?

I wanted to be brave. I wanted to think that should she leave me, I could say she lived a good and full life and be happy for that. I wanted to be noble. I wanted to be unselfish.

But I really wasn't brave or noble or unselfish in the end. I sat in the exam room, arms tightly wrapped around me, and cried. I grieved for the noble dog, the dog in the next room, who so patiently and lovingly has stood by me these past ten years, never asking for one thing but that I love her. Never judging me for all my indescretions and stupidity, just happy to be with me. Regardless.

Dr. Molly came back and told me the good news is, her kidneys are fine. Bad news is, she must have surgery to get that uterus out and she must have it now. She said, "I could prop her up for a couple more days on antibiotics but quite frankly, after that, there is not much more I can do." So, the decision was made. Wonderful Dr. Molly, who was supposed to have yesterday afternoon off, stayed and operated on my dog.

It is a funny thing, sort of, to think of how I was raised and the whole thought process about animals. Realizing my father equated everything, great and small, with its relation to eternity; in his mind animals were not something to be valued or respected much. He has never believed animals have souls and if they don't have souls, their only value is whatever role they play on earth and that would be the extent of it. I tend to believe that dogs and man were meant to walk together in this life and in the next one and if that is true for dogs, well...has the idea of a soul been wrongly defined? How can a dog give unconditional love and not be next to God? Is there a parallel there?

I wonder...

In the meantime, the Big Girl, as I call her often, is snoozing beside my chair as I type this, having had a dose of pain meds. I am so thankful she is still here.

Do you love a dog? What is your story?

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