Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Day at the Vet's

I hate to take my dog to the veterinarian for anything that involves leaving the dog. Any dog. Any veterinarian.

I didn't used to have that problem, but a dozen years ago I took my much beloved Jack Russell terrier, Lucy (1) for a checkup because she was dragging a bit. The vet kept her because there was more going on than I thought. She never came home.

Now I face every visit to the animal doctor with trepidation. I have, in fact, made two trips in one day to an emergency vet nearly an hour away to keep from leaving my dog overnight. I don't even like to leave one for the day for something as simple as a tooth cleaning, but I buck up and do it when absolutely necessary.

There's a terrible fear that something will happen and I won't even get to say goodbye. Because, tough as it is, I can handle goodbye. I expect to outlive my dogs (hope to, to be quite honest), but I do want that goodbye as painful as it may be for me. I want them to know I'm there, that they are loved, and then slip away. Not some surgical mishap or crash during treatment.

Abi, who followed Lucy as the Jack Russell terrier in my life, makes that difficult. Although you wouldn't think it by looking at her, even at 12 years old, Abi is quite the scrapper. In fact, since she's come into my life I've become quite adept at managing dog fights and treating wounds. I've learned where not to put my hands when separating dogs, whether it's tangling terriers or bristling bull dogs.

The first time Abi was in a serious to the death battle, or so it appeared, she and a sheltie were under my feet and I naively reached down to pull them apart. I think I was the only one who had to see a doctor that time, but for a while after that there were a lot of vet visits. The emergency trip was for Abi, who needed stitches behind her ear after another round with the sheltie. Then I got better at anticipating and handling the occasional bouts. And the sheltie, who was apparently Abi's nemesis, passed away a few summers ago, so Abi has generally been more mellow.

Her bestest buddy now is Lucy (2.0), who came to us as a gift when her owner lost his job. Lucy, while not quite the love puppy the original was, is generally not a fighter and they have gotten along well since day one. That is despite what I'm sure is an anti-Lucy complex that Abi has developed through years of hearing "Lucy never did that." They snooze in the sun, harass the rabbit and chickens, wait out naps and kennel visits and sleep at the foot of the bed. The black terrier mix, Mushu, is purely an accessory in their relationship.

But several weeks ago one of the Es dropped a bit of lunch into the floor and it was on. That's another thing about the terriers, although they had never been around babies, they are absolutely devoted to the girls and will apparently tolerate anything from them. When stressed, they tend to chew vigorously on a cow hoof or, without intervention, each other.

This time there was no warning. One dog grabbed the scrap, a gift from the girls she thought, and the other dog grabbed her. Separating two terriers is a bit like separating pit bulls, although on a smaller scale. They are tenacious. I've learned the best approach with the smaller dogs is to grab one by the back legs and pick her up so that I can shake the other one loose. That doesn't work with a pit bull, mainly because I'm not big enough to lift both of them. Any way, when Abi and Lucy released one another, Abi had wounds on her muzzle.

They healed. Then there was one that didn't. Turns out after a visit to the vet nearly two weeks ago that Lucy probably shattered the root of Abi's tooth when she bit her during that altercation. For the wound to heal, the tooth has to be removed.

Which is a round about way of saying Abi is at the vet and I'm hating the day.

I love my vet. She is very caring about the animals who come to her and I can always get an appointment. It's totally not personal. I'm just uneasy when my dog isn't here with me (which gives me a little reminder of how much trust people put in me when they board their dogs, even with no medical procedure involved).

So I'm anticipating 4 p.m. and heading back to pick her up. And down deep, dreading the scenario where that doesn't take place.

No comments:

Post a Comment