Katie has been sick. The kind of life-threatening sick that makes a sheltie parents’ hearts quicken as they contemplate what life will be like someday when a fiesty little girl isn’t around to make things interesting.
She had emergency surgery to remove her gallbladder in early April, at the age of fourteen, and came through just fine. She’s a strong one. Twenty-one staples held her little shaved tummy together, and she never once tried to mess with them.
But they found some bacteria in the samples they took for biopsy, so she was prescribed two anti-biotics, strong ones, to be taken for six weeks. And they wanted her to change her diet over to a kidney supporting food. And thus the struggle began.
Lucky girl, they told us to feed her a bland diet of boiled chicken and white rice for the first two days. She was fine with that. But she wasn’t going to eat that KD dog food. Nope. Not interested. So we suplemented with more chicken, different types of rice, homemade broth made from chicken bones, fresh green beans steamed just so, oven roasted sweet potatoes.
Every day we’d try different flavors of the KD dog food. Sometimes she’d accept the kibble, hand fed as a treat, quite eagerly. The next day she wouldn’t have anything to do with it. The wet food made her turn her face away in disgust.
We’d order more flavors, try to entice her to eat. As the days went on and we kept filling her with antibiotics we learned that a side effect was lack of appetite. She stopped wanting to eat chicken, rice was off the table. Sweet potato sometimes worked. Sometimes not.
We were having more and more trouble getting the pills into her, as she became suspicious of all hand held food, worried about what was in it. Pill pockets didn’t work anymore. Peanut butter was hit and miss. Cheese was a no go.
Every morning I’d start the day trying to get her pain pill administered. “What do you like today, Miss Katie?” I’d ask her. Her face would light up at the memory of getting a wonderful treat, but she’d drop her smile in disappointment when she was offered a pill covered in some previously delectible spread.
By the sixth week I was disparing of ever getting her to eat again, watching her as she slept, missing my fiesty, noisy, curious, happy little girl.
And then, twenty-four hours after her last pill she begged us for something to eat. And we offered her the KD dog food and she gulped it down. “Got any more, mama?” The kibble, offered as a treat? “No problem daddy, I love my kibble treats!”
These days, when she’s being her noisy, curious, happy self, I sit and watch her, storing the memories. Though she’s acting like her old self, the truth is she’s still almost fourteen and a half. We got more time, but time isn’t infinite.
This early morning she wanted to go out and sit on the deck. She won’t do that without me being there too, and I had a long list of things I wanted to get done. But I smiled and took my laptop and we went out. She’s out here now, on high alert, breaking up twigs while watching the road for anyone who might pass by without her specialized sheltie permit. They must be barked at.
I’m sitting here watching the birds and squirrels as they venture out for their morning meal. The nuthatch is peeking at us from the backside of the birch tree which is glowing in the morning light. He’s not sure it’s safe to flit over to the birdfeeder for a tasty treat. Eventually, after scolding us for some time, he decides we are not a threat and he picks out the best seed and hurries away. The female oriole is on the grape jelly feeder, not caring about us at all. There’s our wren warbling further out in the yard, guarding the nestbox where little ones are growing. A male bluebird sits very high in the tree above us, the sun catching the rusty glow of his chest. A chipmunk scurries along the deck, checking us out, and a black squirrel has just climbed the railing, but finding us there, scurries back down again.
Katie is oblivious to all of it.
The black squirrel approaches from a different direction, and she sees him. Much barking and prancing ensues. My happy, silly, curious, noisy girl is back. And oh good, the garbage truck is coming down the road. Another danger to protect mama from. Good thing for all of us that she’s still in charge.
Katie-girl. Our roller-coaster girl is back.
And we are grateful.