Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Dog With Nine Lives

My older dog Abby has been sick and gave us a scare. She started having seizures on Friday afternoon. This is not the first time it's happened. A few years ago, in the middle of the night, she had several seizures and a stroke that had us racing to an animal ER and left her back legs without any strength or function.

When we took her home a few days later, the doctor gave me a sling to hold up her middle, looking at me as if she was sure my dog wasn't going to last like that for very long. "She'll either get worse...or get better," the vet said.

Well...thanks for the words of wisdom. Doesn't that apply to all of us, at any given moment? I wanted to say that, but didn't.

I sat with Abby for several days; hanging out, talking over the good times. She seemed to like that.  And she did get better, eventually. So the vet was right about that. But soon after this scare, we decided to get a "spare" dog, just in case; a Golden Retriever named Lily adopted from a rescue group. She is the best thing I ever found on the inter net, that's for sure.  

I found Abby in a dog shelter. She was quite beautiful, the prettiest one there. She looked like a dog in a William Wegman photo ..without the arty attitude.  When she was let out of her cage to say hello, she sat very close and leaned on my leg. Then looked up. Of course I had to take her home. 

She's always been so quiet, no trouble at all. The worst you could say is that she is a bit anxious and barks at other dogs on the street. But she is sweet and quiet in the house, part chocolate Lab and part hound dog. Some sleek breed in her doggy family tree that has kept her slim and nimble. When she was young, she could actually climb a tree to track a squirrel or raccoon. She still follows a scent up a weedy hill or lopes about to chase a lazy bird -- in a comic, senior-dog fashion. She doesn't understand that she's old and looks very silly. She still feels the same inside, sitting in a patch of dandelions, enjoying the warm sun. I hope I'll be like that at her age,  105 in dog years.

We adopted Abby the same week my daughter started Kindergarten. In August, Kate will go off to college. It feels sad but fitting somehow that Abby's strength and spirit is fading with Katie's childhood. But I don't want to dwell on that.

Since she's been sick, Abby hasn't been able to come upstairs during the day and sleep in my office, as she loves to do. I'm so used to having her there, I back up my chair very slowly whenever I get up. For years I've been bumping into her, liable to run over a tail or a paw. But when I glance back now, she's not there. It's an odd feeling, to see the empty rug.

On Tuesday afternoon, Abby flopped down and couldn't get up. "Is this it?" I asked her quietly. "Give me a sign. Lick my hand or something." She stared up  and put her paw on my arm. I called my daughter and we took her back to the vet. 

The doctor hasn't found all that much wrong with her, mysteriously. "Just watch her. She'll either get better or...."

Yes...I know the punch-line by now.

Funny how, when Abby heard that, she perked up again. Not chasing birds, but able to stand and amble about. Barking for me to come down and let her out. Or give her more biscuits. I still have to carry her upstairs at night. But I like to keep my eye on her. As if she's a child with a fever and I need to sleep with one eye and ear open.

She will not live forever, we keep telling each other. But for now, our Abby-dog, with her white muzzle and unfocused eyes, seems to have dodged another bullet. What the vet did not tell us -- what all these tests must have showed -- is that Abby is part cat. Her deep, dark secret. That's my conclusion. How else could she have nine lives?



Katreader said...

I hope she stays happy and comfortable for as long as possible!

Chrystle Fiedler said...

I feel your pain. When my animals are sick I am as upset as I am when a human family member is sick. Taking it one day at time is the only way to go I've found. It's so good of your to adopt a rescue. My pup Wallander is very sensitive and needs lots of love and reassurance but he is the sweetest dog, ever. Hope your pup feels better soon!

Monica Ferris said...

Someone on the Internet has as a sig line, "It's a shame dogs don't live as long as we do. Their only fault, really."

Linda O. Johnston said...

Hugs to you and Abby. I hope she rallies quickly.