Monday, August 21, 2006

Letting Sleeping Puppies Lie

The Patient

We had a little sick doggie episode last week. Jack (our “special” child) shuffled into the house on Monday night and lay down. He barely picked up his head all night. He didn’t want water, he didn’t want to play, and *GASP* he didn’t want TREATS! Jack is normally what an unkind elementary school kid would call a spaz- bouncing everywhere, giving us the licky-face. (The licky-face is a patented Jack move in which you swing your head from side to side while flapping your big ol’ tongue out at someone and flinging drool far and wide. It never fails to make the vet giggle.) Jack is also notorious for eating just about anything he can get his snoot into, which I fear may have been the root of this little episode. Neither one of our dogs has what you would call a refined palette. Jack has a particular affinity for paper napkins, for pete’s sake. (To his credit, he at least seems to have a preference for the ones made mostly of recycled material.) We have a pear tree in our backyard that is shedding fruit, some of which is rotting beneath low, prickly branches because Jack’s parents are too busy and lazy to pick it up. It remains my theory that our boy partook of some questionable fruit and got his tummy in an uproar. But I digress…

Jack would have none of his usual shenanigans on Monday night. And then I went outside and discovered he had thrown up earlier in the day. Needless to say, I was concerned. And by concerned, I mean obsessing and freaking out. I called my mother-in-law, Saint Lynn of Assisi; my sister, whose house is the unofficial no-kill shelter of Upstate SC; my vet; the emergency vet (mine was closed); and my out-of-town-on-business Husband (four times). After consulting at length with these folks, I decided to keep an eye on Jack over night and reevaluate in the morning.

I then proceeded to set up camp. The puppies got to sleep in the den for the first time ever (accident-free, might I add!), but not without me first cordoning off the kitchen and den areas so they couldn’t get far. I won’t give you the details of my elaborate fortress, but it involved a baby gate, a dining room chair, an ottoman, a large overstuffed den chair, a couple of twin bed sheets, and a small reading table. After securing our quarters, I decided to sleep in my jeans and t-shirt just in case Jack had to be rushed out for medical attention in the middle of the night. I put Jack’s bed right next to the couch (where I’d be sleeping) and put his water bowl nearby to try to encourage him to remain hydrated in spite of his gastrointestinal distress. With the stage set, I let Jack and his sister Daisy into the house. The puppies promptly lay down on their respective beds and sacked out big time.

And Mama lay awake all night.

Daisy, unconcerned by her brother’s plight

Every few minutes I was obsessively checking his respiration and feeling him to see if he was feverish. I felt his tummy to be sure it wasn’t hard, possibly indicating a bowel obstruction. When he moved in his sleep, I leapt up; sure he was about to vomit, potty, or die (or possibly all three.) Sure, I dozed off a couple of times, but never for more than a few minutes. I was on red alert. I am embarrassed to admit that at one point, I even took my comforter and pillow and LAID ON THE FLOOR NEXT TO HIS DOG BED because I thought his breathing sounded funny. This went on aaaallll night long. Jack never actually had anything close to a medically emergent situation, but dammit I was prepared.

I was highly relieved when Jack got up at 5:00 and drank some water. I was even more relieved when at 6:30, he gobbled up the treats I offered him. By the time I left for work at 9:00, he was back to “gardening” (read: excavating 99% of the backyard) and running amok. (I love that word… amok, amok, amok! hee hee!)

So all was well in Doggie Land! Jack seems to be entirely recovered and Mama seems to have caught up on her sleep. But then, this morning, Husband went out to feed the pups and didn’t come back in for quite a while. I walked out in the garage just in time to see him disposing of the possum carcass that was in the backyard.
And guess which Dynamic Duo was due for their shots two weeks ago?

To the vet on Friday, then!

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