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Three score and ten or more

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

DOGGONE--NOT YET--whew, I guess.

I have written before about some of my adventures with dogs.  Dogs have a strange relationship with humans, at least with this human. 

Some dogs are just pets; like a fish, or a feral cat, or a hamster.  You feed them, care for them and they reward you with fellowship, entertainment, service, (my feral cats kept my pecan trees relatively free of squirrels) occasional irritation (we lost a hamster once, and thought he was gone for about six months, then in March I found him in a desk drawer with most of my tax receipts--shredded into nesting material.  If he had been able to find a female hamster in any practical way we would probably have been overwhelmed with hamsters) and a twitch of sadness when he or she dies, runs away, is stolen, or what have you.  Other dogs seem to dig a space deep in one's heart, and the link is almost, or perhaps absolutely as strong as brother and sister, mother and child or any similar familial relationship.

My daughter has a basset hound named Roscoe who, I think, has bonded in this way with her.  I enjoy the dog, love to have it around, and my wife refers to him as one of her grand-dogs.  Lately with all the medical problems we have keeping us from some of our previous activities, Janet has begun talking about getting a dog.  She enjoys Roscoe so much that I think she is a little jealous of  the daughter/dog relationship.  I, on the other hand, though I enjoy Roscoe as much as she, am pretty satisfied with the "occasional" dog experience.  The fact is that two of our last four or five dogs were dogs with whom that "special" relationship was formed, and their deaths were so traumatic to me that I don't want to face that possibility again.  I found it embarrassing to try to teach classes and direct plays with tears running down my face, or to go out in the yard and run across a favorite dog toy and be struck with emotion so strong that there was a need to sit and close my eyes.   I will write about these two dogs in the next few days:  One was a cross between a registered Pit-Bull and-- a brindle bull or . . .  The other was one of these "'manufactured dog name types".  She was a Cockapekapoo, or a Pookacockafiddle or something like that.  Neither of these is the dog I write about today. 

Some time about ten or twelve years ago, one of my sons acquired a delightful pup.  She is a cross between a black lab and a Pit Bull. (I think she, and my own dog mentioned above, are the source of my permanent irritation at people who categorize all pit bulls as vicious.  I think that bigotry is as misplaced as racial bigotry in humans.  To automatically categorize a dog as evil because of its ancestry is a bigotry as vile as categorizing all African Americans as gang members or Mexicans as born fruit pickers.)  She, named DD, I think as short for Damn Dog, is very gentle (though defensive and efficiently dominating when attacked) but for all of her life she has been the Alpha Female of all the dogs within a fair distance.  She is one of the most intelligent dogs I've known.  She probably would have had the same relationship with me that Roscoe has, but my son had occasion to be in the National Guard.  For over a year he was employed by the guard in Atlanta, in a situations to which he couldn't take D D.  Twice he was sent to defense language training school , once to learn Russian and once to learn Spanish (in which he was already fluent) and then, he was deployed to Afghanistan for more than a year.  On those occasions, D D became my dog.  She has tended my health (my neuropathy made it difficult to run or even walk for exercise, but her needs made it necessary, and the exercise not only strengthened me but saved my life).   She is one of those dogs with which I have seriously bonded.  I don't see her every day since her "daddy' came home from the wars, but I always feel an intense pang when she is brought by the house, or when I go out to feed and care for the dogs (she has company) when my son is out of town.  She recognizes me from a long distance, knows the sound of my car, and defers to me a a very intense way. 

When I last really saw her, before the past few days, she was obviously getting old, was getting a little fat, but still enjoying her ownership of the five acres she shares with my son.  A week or so ago, my son said that she is eating, but getting very thin.  He was a little worried.  I went to his house last midweek to do some errand, and I was a little shocked by how thin and weak she seemed.  The son said that she was having difficulty leaving the house in the morning when it is cold outside.

Yesterday he brought her to my house for a little pampering and I was shocked that she seemed almost skeletal.  She got some serious pampering but before even a couple of hours my son and I decided that she needed to go to the vet.  I took her there, and after some three hours of bloodwork, xrays, and examinations they told me that her weight loss (close to thirty pounds in three weeks) was caused by an apparent abscess on or in her spleen.  Her blood was so thin and limited that one of the doctors basically said that he had never seen such blood work in a live dog.  It seems that all her blood was in her very swollen spleen and her only chance was to have the spleen removed.  I perked up at that until they began to list caveats.  She had some kind of infection that was again almost the first of such seen in a dog that could walk.  There was also the possibility that the growth in the spleen was cancerous.  My son is not in any financial shape to spend 12 to 17 hundred dollars (the probable cost given) but Bank of America E-mailed me that the credit limit on my Platinum Plus card had automatically increased to 18,000 dollars, so his dad could handle it.

They said that the likely limit on her life without surgery was  ten to fourteen days, but that she had less than fifty percent chance of surviving the surgery.   It took some discussion, prayer, and thinking but this morning we took her in for surgery.  When she was examined at the vet hospital, we were told that she had deteriorated over night to the stage that her chances of survival were now from fifteen to twenty five percent.  WE took a big gulp and decided to go for it.

That was more or less when I started this.  The original title was DOGGONE- MAYBE-HOPENOT.   The old coot was leaking out the eyes while typing, and making a lot of typos.  While I was  still typing, the   phone rang.  It was one of the doctors from the vet hospital.  DD had completed the surgery successfully.  None of the cancer that they had feared was in the body, though they are sending a section of the spleen for analysis.  She is still in danger, very dehydrated, but she is strong and waking, and now I am leaking in the eyes from joy.  We still have hope, and that hole in my heart that belongs to special animal friends is still full.  In fact, at this moment it is overflowing.  More news as we get it.


At 8:55 AM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Here's hoping that DD makes it. I hope never to have to put down another dog and pray that mine die peacefully in their sleep.

Happy Thanksgiving.

At 10:16 PM, Blogger opit said...

What are the chances ? You and exMI at Blogspot were the first two well-wishers when I started blogging at oldephartteintraining. His last post was about a $1200 surgery necessary to save his dog...with a bad spleen.
Can't say I don't understand as I've been known as somebody dogs follow around for years.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger exMI said...

Our secret is out.....


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