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!”
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!