Just last Saturday I was winging my way over snow packed fields toward sunshine and family. Katie was safe at the kennel, work was a memory. I enjoyed my time with family relaxing for a long weekend and we did a lot of fun stuff, some of which you’ve seen on Facebook; climbed the fire tower, went for a boat ride, ate, slept, read. It was lovely.
I knew this week would be a challenge; the combination of a dog home alone all day, a busy full time job and two community band concerts made for interesting logistics. I flew home Tuesday afternoon, landing at 5 which gave me just enough time to stop at the house, grab the clarinet and head off to our last rehearsal before the concert Friday night, followed by our big community band festival in a town an hour away Saturday morning.
I thought I had things all figured out. I had permission to leave work early on Wednesday to get Katie out of the kennel before they closed at 5 p.m. I had a dog walker scheduled to come to the house and play with her every workday. I had permission to leave work early on Friday so that I could go home, feed her, let her out and still make it back to town for our concert that evening. Yep. I’m a master at making lists and planning. And you know what they say about the best laid plans.
They say that I didn’t adequately factor in Katie. That’s what they say.
So let me tell you about the last four days. Settle in. This might take awhile.
Wednesday afternoon I picked Katie up from the kennel about 4:30. They said she was perfect, liked her food, didn’t mind her meds (she was finishing up antibiotics for an urinary tract infection), liked to go outside, liked attention. That’s my girl. I took her to the doggie bathroom before we drove home hoping to avoid a 30 minute howling session. She peed. We got in the car and she howled the whole way home in her voice hoarse from barking at the kennel for 6 straight days. At home she was a little terror, barking at me, running around checking stuff out, barking at me, wanting to go out, wanting to come in, barking at me, wanting to go out again but not doing anything while we were out. Did I mention barking at me? Wednesday night I was up and taking her out several times during the night. I was exhausted at work on Thursday.
Thursday night after work I was settling in for the evening, glad I was home after a drive through sleet on icy roads. Thankful I didn’t have any reason to go out in that weather again. Then I noticed Katie standing still, head up against a wall panting. Not normal. I took her out, but nothing. I figured maybe she was tired from her stressful week. Well, so was I. Maybe we’d take a nap. I carried her into the bedroom and she lay on my pillow slowly, as though it pained her to lay down. Then she got up and walked carefully to the end of the bed and gingerly lowered herself again. Then she got up and tried a new spot, walking stiffly, inching her way down. This was not normal. I picked her up and noticed the whole back end of her was trembling. Out on the sofa and she sat on a pillow leaning against the back of the sofa staring at me. Now her whole body was trembling. Not good. So we went to the emergency vet, a long way away, through the sleet on ice covered roads.
The vet was busy, with two critical dogs coming in after us. We waited a few hours, with Katie panting next to me on the bench, moving as little as possible. Finally they took her back and had someone look at her, drew blood, did xrays and gave her pain meds. After the pain meds kicked in she was a sleepy but happy camper. None of the tests were entirely conclusive so I left her there overnight for an ultrasound in the morning and drove home on the ice covered roads, making it to bed close to 1 a.m.
Friday I went to work thinking they’d be releasing her to me sometime in the afternoon. I had a concert to do that evening and I didn’t know how I was going to go get her, get her home and settled and then leave her to go perform. But I figured it would all work out. Turns out they wanted to keep her all afternoon, so I arranged to stop by after the concert (love these 24 hour emergency clinics!) to see if she was being released or not and to discuss the ultrasound findings. The concert went well, the ultrasound findings were not particularly conclusive. But there was evidence of a slightly inflamed pancreas and in combination with high white blood cells they figured it was pancreatitis. They had sent out another blood sample to an outside lab to confirm, but I could take her home.
Katie was very happy to be home and it took awhile to settle her down. Actually she never really settled down and we were up and down all night. At one point I put her in her crate at the other end of the house, went back to bed and closed the bedroom door. I lay down and I could feel my heart beating, not just in my chest but I was aware of the pulse at the ends of my fingers and toes and the intense overall exhaustion in my legs, neck arms and shoulders. I lay there and wondered if a person could just get so tired that their heart burst. I was OK if it did. Katie howled from her crate for an hour.
Eventually I just got up and got ready for the Saturday morning concert. She seemed normal but I didn’t trust her enough to leave her loose in the house. I hadn’t been able to get her to pee for several hours. Her path through the snow was covered in ice and she didn’t like it. Being a princess she just decided to hold it until there were better conditions in which to pee. Unfortunately the snow in the yard is higher than my knees, so the path is all there is for her. So we were at loggerheads.
Finally I started packing the car with concert stuff, instrument, music, clothes, purse…she watched me with narrowed eyes. She’d already been packed away in the car and delivered to a kennel, then a hospital. You could see the wheels in her head turning. I turned to her, planning to put her into her crate since she hadn’t gone to the bathroom yet. She backed up. No way was she getting in that car with her Mama. She didn’t know what hellish place I might be taking her this time! So I just said “Katie! Crate!” and she joyfully trotted in, sat on her pillow and all but told me “Have a nice day Mama, I’ll wait for you right here!” And so she did.
Our concert this morning went great, it was wonderful, such a relief to immerse myself in something that didn’t have dog hair, blood tests, or poop involved. We played a slow piece, “Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitacre that just about had me in tears. The lyrics:
Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow;
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas
I just thought about Katie waiting in her crate and all the stress and emotion we’d been through in the last two days, and that hopefully we were almost through with the bad stuff. Our band played this beautifully, as beautifully as the link above. Give it a listen. I think our conductor had tears in her eyes too as the last notes slipped away. Those are amazing moments, when they happen, musical moments to treasure. I would have stayed and listened to other bands as I know people in several of them from across the state, but Katie needed me so I hurried home. As I merged onto the freeway a bright orange truck was going the other way. “Hey Dad” I thought and smiled. Then I turned up the radio and sang all the way home.
She was all happy face and crazy tail when I got home, none the worse for wear for spending a few hours in her crate napping. I called the vet and her test results for pancreatitis came back so low that we can’t really say she has that problem. Though seriously she had some sort of problem Thursday night. So there is more detective work to be done, but for now she’s happy. But boy do I need a nap. A good long nap. I guess I’ll play Seal Lullaby again and see if she and I can get some shuteye.
She doesn’t seem to be in the mood. Princesses are like that you know.