boscoe pierzynski has somehow figured out how to shimmy off his elbow pads while we're not home. he met me at the back door this evening with the two elbow pads hanging down off his back like stirrups on a horse. they were still securely velcro-ed closed. i would like to see how he did that.
* * * UPDATE * * *
ahem. my confession: i realized as i was strapping him in this morning that yesterday i, um, had the contraption on, um backwards.
no wonder he couldn't bend his elbows. no wonder he acted all pathetic about not being able to jump up on the couch. no wonder he slid out of it.
[sigh] it's tough having a dog who is smarter than me.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Read Part One here.
doug had seen this happen before. when he was a kid, his sister's dog, Bright, had collapsed and had been unable to get up again. her back had given out, and she had to be euthanized.
so we stood in the living room, in front of the cheery, crackling fire and stared at toby, who lay very still on the floor. doug's first thought was that this was it--toby would never walk again. i was not so sure, but i had not been around in the Bright days.
toby just lay there. his eyes looked dull.
"we'll have to bring him in," doug said, his voice filled with despair.
"toby," i said, trying to steady my quavering words. "can you come here?"
and toby rose and came over to my side. we were flooded with relief. outside, the snow continued to fall, but it felt as though the sun had just come out.
after that evening, toby seemed to grow old quickly. his face grew white. his gums grew paler. his hair was more sparse and, especially, on his legs, it grew kind of fuzzy and rough. it stuck out, like he was wearing jodphurs. doug nicknamed him, "Old Mr. Puffy Pants."
he had had a heart murmur for several years by now, and for quite some time he had been on the doggie equivalent of digitalis. the murmur had crept up from a one (out of five) to a three, and there it had remained. after the falling-down incident we brought him back for another checkup, but dr. j couldn't find any change.
"sometimes dogs have seizures," he said. "that might have been what that was."
will it happen again? we asked. "maybe," dr. j said, and once again i fumed at how little doctors really know, especially when their patients can't talk.
toby had started breathing heavier, so in the evenings i kept the walk short. instead of turning left and heading toward the park, we turned right and headed down toward the railroad tracks. the boys liked to meander in the tall grass by the tracks. sometimes they scared up a rabbit.
one evening in early spring we headed out, but when we passed Neal Young's house (or the long-haired guy who looked like neal young), neal's dogs roared toward the fence, barking at us. and toby collapsed again. his back legs just sort of folded up, and down he went.
it was one of those horrible, surreal moments--boscoe was barking at the dogs in the yard, who were barking at us, and toby lay on the ground, his back legs splayed out, unable to rise. i couldn't pick him up because i couldn't let go of boscoe's leash or he would run right toward the barking dogs, and i didn't know what to do. i simply didn't know what to do.
it was one of those overwhelming moments when you want to control something, anything at all, just to get yourself back on a track toward normalcy. so i screamed at boscoe, who, miraculously, stopped barking and looked at me. i let go of his leash and put a foot on it. and i reached down to pick up toby.
with my help, he was able to get up again. we turned and started back toward home. he was wobbly, but he seemed otherwise ok.
i had no idea what was going on with him. why was he collapsing? was he frightened by the barking dogs? was he too weak to walk? he still wanted to play tennis ball, though we had started limiting him to just a few tosses. but if his murmur was no worse, what could be the problem?
TO BE CONTINUED