Snow Dog



I could rarely tell when my younger daughter, Kate, was not feeling well. She didn’t slow down for anything. Not for quiet time or bed time or a fever. I’m ashamed to admit there were at least a couple times when I sent her out the door in the morning, only to have the school nurse phone to tell me she was sick.

My oldest daughter, Jen, was a different story. With the slightest bit of a virus, she’d get a round, red spot on each cheek, would otherwise be frighteningly pale, and was down. No interest in play time or meal time or anything. Her ailments were probably no worse than Kate’s, but her behavior always elicited more of a reaction. It was scary.

My little dog, Rosa Parks, is a lot like Jen, in that when she doesn’t feel good, it is instantly noticeable. Her tail goes down. Her ears droop. She gets very snippy. It’s so different from her usual behavior, that it gets my attention right away.

It happened a few weeks ago. Rosa Parks did not feel well.

I called the vet for advice. He was unreachable… on the mainland, having a medical procedure of his own. I left him a voice mail anyway.

I observed her through the day. I telephoned the veterinary hospital on the mainland. Of course they couldn’t diagnose, but they listened sympathetically. Rosa Parks was not improving.

I had to make a decision, before it got so late in the day that I had no options.

I called my boss and arranged for my shift to be covered by someone else.

Called the airport and scheduled a flight.

Phoned Aunt Katie to give her an update, and arrange to use her mainland vehicle.

Contacted the vet hospital to let them know to expect us.

I threw a few necessities together, gathered up my little dog and headed out.

We flew off the island at three PM.

Blood work, x-rays and a thorough examination, two prescriptions and a lecture, and we barely made it back to the airport in time for our 4:30 PM flight home. Had we missed the plane, I’d have had to add the cost of dinner and a motel room to the already quickly mounting expenses.

I could make a credit card commercial!

Missing one shift at work: $50.00…

Round trip flight to the mainland: $100.00…

Veterinary bill: $350.00…

Knowing my little dog will survive…PRICELESS!

It turned out that she had a pancreatic infection, and would most likely have been fine until our own veterinarian got back to the island…but she looked so sick! For the peace of mind, it was worth it.

However, the veterinarian we saw did bring up another problem.

My own veterinarian has mentioned Rosa’s weight  and said that I’m a bit too free with the treats where the little dog is concerned. We have explored medical reasons for her plumpness. He has, though, always been understanding and kind.

The young mainland doctor was a tad more direct.

It brought out a side of my own personality I was unaware of until then.

“I can’t believe she’s not even two years old,” he said, “she is carrying way too much weight!”

“She has thyroid problems,” I explained.

He looked at me as if that were no explanation at all.

“For a chihuahua, she’s really quite big-boned,” I said, “I think she may have a bit of mixed blood.”

One skeptical eyebrow raised.

“She’s really all muscle,” I said, “or at least more muscle than fat!”

His expression told me he was unimpressed.

“Look, I give her precisely the amount of dog food recommended for a dog her size!”

“If that amount of food is keeping her at this size, she’s getting too much food, no matter WHAT is recommended!”

Well, okay.

So, we talked about cutting her food in half, banishing treats, weighing her weekly…and I really did listen, and have taken it to heart.

Still, on my way out, I told the nurse, “I understand that she’s carrying a bit of extra weight, and she does, I know, look a little waddle-ish in here…but if you could just see her in the wild!

Yes, I really said that.

I thought about it today, though, and it wasn’t as outlandish a statement as it seemed at the time.

Today, with ten inches of new snow, my old dog, Clover, faced with a wall of the “white stuff” when I opened the door, was not going out until I got out there to shovel a path. Not so, Rosa Parks. She plowed right out in snow deeper than she was! When Doug came around with his plow truck to clear my driveway, I had to run out in my bathrobe to grab Rosa Parks. She gave me a look that seemed to say “What, you’re just going to let him move our snow??”, and she kept right on barking. By the time I got back in the house with her, I was covered in snow balls to my waist! She was undaunted. We took two long walks today. My camera – needing new batteries – wasn’t fast enough to snap her in action. She really is a sight to behold.

In her element, that is. My chihuahua…in the wild!

22 responses »

  1. Loved this one Cindy! I can just hear you making excuses for Rosa Parks.. I make excuses for Max CONSTANTLY.. people just don’t understand our dogs like we do..

    • Thanks, Michelle! When I started worrying that Rosa Parks was hearing the vet talk about her weight – and that her feelings might be getting hurt – I knew I was totally out of control!

  2. Yep. Typical dog owner that has an overweight dog and can not see the trees for the forest. Been there and done that but no more. I don’t know if the vet mentioned all the diseases caused by obesity. Diabetes, heart disease, early hip dysplasia, pancreatitis, etc. I use a measuring cup to fix each dogs’ food. And I do not ever give treats unless I am attempting to teach a trick or to rarely reward good behavior. The dog has a much longer and pain free life if he or she is not overweight.

    I loved your post. So cute and funny.

  3. Can’t believe how much people spend on pets today. When I was growing up they lived outside and the only time they went to the vet was for their necessary shots, and they seemed live long lives if thet stayed out of the road.
    I must admit though when I was caring to my sone’s dog when he was in college a credit card was a handy item to have.

    • I know, it seems insane. Of course when we were kids, we were still warned to always watch out for dogs that were rabid, too, because a lot of people didn’t even bother with the shots (my parents included). Spay or neuter – practically unheard of. Now, dog insurance is a big thing, and if I’d known Rosa Parks was going to have so many issues, I’d have taken out a policy! Thanks for reading, Bob!

  4. So hard on so many levels when our furred and feathered friends are ill and the bucks are certainly part of it.

    I love that you named your dog “Rosa Parks.” Wonderful … and a wonderful blog. 🙂

  5. It’s so tough when they are not feeling well. I tend to go from concern to just outright panic, imagining the absolute worst. Our Mirza needed an emergency visit to the vet a few month’s ago. $350 later, we were so glad we took her. She had infection in both her ears. I was in quite a state, that morning, when she could not manage to come down the stairs without help. She usually bounds down taking three steps at a time! And yes, that’s a lot of money and yes it was tough to come up with it and yes, I’d do it again! She blesses our life every single day!

    • It’s like having an infant…they can’t tell you where it hurts or how serious it is, but they depend on us to take care of them. I agree, when it gets to that point, it’s worth every penny! Thanks for reading, Joss, and for your comments!

  6. I’m glad to hear your furry friend will survive. And yes, just like kids, those pets will take you on a wild adventure when you least expect it. Unfortunately those adventures might cause you to worry more than you have to. I’m glad to hear you are such a caring and responsible pet owner.

  7. I lost a dog to pancreatitis. Take the vet’s warning to heart: especially about the treats. After each pancreatic attack the dog is a bit more sensitive, more liable to have another. The expression “killed with kindness” is a good one to remember. Treats should = carrot or apple from now on. No people food ever. And in the winter the extra layer should be a coat, not a layer of fat. OMG I sound like someone’s mother. It’s just that I lost a dog, Fletcher, due to my own “kindness” … and I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I did …

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Assume you found me via Kathy ?

    • Yes, I did (do) take his advice to heart, Sybil, as I do take my dogs (I have two) health seriously. I wrote a story about it, because I knew my reaction was over the top, defensive, and – the bottom line – funny. I didn’t mean to imply that I was taking his advice lightly. I can see that you know how very hard it is to lose a beloved pet. Thanks you for reading, and for your comments. (Yes, I saw one of your thoughtful comments to one of Kathy’s posts)

  8. I treat my cats like people as well. Many have come and gone and touched my life over the years. The old cat I talk about on my trips, Kitty by name, lived with me for 21 years and when she died I cried for a month. We have one cat now, Mouse, that has to have diet food and a special laxative every day due to digestive issues. Rick asked why we have to have a cat adopt us that has special requirements. Ummmm, because someone knew we’d take care of it would be my answer 🙂 Great post. Living on an island must be equally interesting and frustrating. Sounds wonderful to me at times.

    • Oh, it sounds like you SO know what it’s like to have a needy pet! If someone had predicted that Rosa Parks would cost over two thousand dollars in the first year I had her, I might have said I couldn’t take her in. BUT, once she’s here, she’s family!

  9. It sounds like you love that doggie to pieces! It takes a heart full of love to spend so much money traveling to the mainland to make sure she’s alright. It’s interesting how different children and dogs react to illness. I am glad that all’s well that end’s well, Cindy. Hope the no-treat plan can be carried out. 🙂

    • Oh, I do love her so much! Ridiculously! So much that I try to tone it down so as not to look like one of “those” people. I think we are doing well – me and Rosa Parks – on our new resolutions. How are you doing?

      • I am doing great, Cindy, thank you for asking. Just dug a smaller jean size out of the closet, believe it or not. Not feeling as much like story-telling lately, though… I have a blog already written but it seems like too much work to take or dig out some photos to accompany it.

      • Oh, good! Congratulations on the jeans! I had a really bad day last week…I thought. Came home at the end of the day and made two calls, just to have someone to sob to about all that went wrong. Then I put on pajamas. THEN i realized that the jeans, which had felt snug when I put them on, had been so uncomfortably tight that it had colored every single thing that happened that day. It wasn’t such a lousy day, just a bit to much fat for the clothes I had on!

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