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August 06, 2008

Daisy's Birthday Gift

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Daisy_a I had a birthday recently and Daisy's present to me was an early morning visit to the vet's office and a $500 vet bill.

Don't get me wrong, I love my little senior citizen, but that was not how I'd planned to spend my birthday.

Daisy's been having issues with her spine and back legs.  When she's on a non-carpeted floor, she has trouble getting traction and supporting her weight.  Sometimes I've got to help her up but once she gets started, she's usually fine.  A little creaky, but fine.

In spite of that and her kidney, heart, blood pressure and pancreas issues, she's doing pretty well for a fourteen and a half year old cocker spaniel.

But when I woke up on my birthday Daisy couldn't get up.  When I helped her up, she couldn't stay up.  She didn't seem like she was in pain, but she was stressed from the frustration of not being able to get up.  It was about seven o'clock and the vet didn't open until nine, so I  bundled her in the car, brought along some coffee and we sat in the parking lot of the vet's office until they opened.

Daisy's usual vet wasn't in, but that was okay because the owner of the practice was there and he's like the oracle of pet care in my town.  He determined that Daisy had either a slipped disc or some sort of blockage to a blood vessel that was keeping her from supporting her back legs.  What was required were heavy duty steroid meds to get her back on her feet...maybe. 

I could feel Daisy's heart racing as I stroked her, listening to the vet.  He reminded me in his very deliberate and weighty voice that because she was an older dog anything could happen and the meds he was about to give her would exacerbate her kidney issues.  He gave me the choice but for me there was no choice:  we had to give her the steroids.

Of course way in the back of my mind was the ultimate choice...putting her to sleep.  But my feeling has always been, as long as she's perky, eating, and not in pain, she'll get every possible second I can wring out of her.

That didn't stop me from tearing up at the thought of Daisy not recovering.  I'd wrapped Daisy in a towel to bring her in, and I used that as an impromptu Kleenex as the doctor talked.  I thought about standing in the waiting room sometimes and catching glimpses of the labeled brown paper bags on an out of the way shelf.  They were from a crematorium and I'd been noticing them more lately. 

Then came the moment when I had to leave her overnight.  That was tough.  In all the years I've had Daisy, if I've been at home, so has she.   I gave her two kisses on the nose and patted her head before leaving the vet's office, going to the car, and letting the tears flow.  Walking in the house was a foreign experience surrounded by Daisy's geriatric doggie paraphernalia and not by Daisy.

My friend Lucy used the lure of Milos and Cara to coax me out of my funk and took me out for a birthday lunch.  The kids gave me handmade cards with stick figure people and a photo of Cara from her ballet recital.  That nearly started the tears all over again.

Later Kay took me out to dinner.  And even though she had my present with her, I asked her to hold off giving it to me until I was in a better mood to appreciate it.

The next day, Daisy was better.  In fact when I talked to the vet's technician she told me Daisy was feeling so much better, she'd tried to run out of her cage that morning.  "That's my girl," I thought.

That afternoon, I picked up Daisy along with a bag full of meds and food, and brought her home.  Since then, I've come to appreciate the modern marvel known as the doggie diaper.  I even checked into one of those doogie wheelchairs you can buy in case she eventually loses the use of her back legs. 

And though my little senior citizen has gotten into the habit of waking me up at all hours to go out, only to pee in her diaper before I can get the back door open, I'm resigned to accept whatever this part of my life with her is going to be.  Whatever it takes to give her as much time as it's in my power to give her is what I plan to do. 

Even if I have to start buying doggie diapers in bulk.  But for now, Daisy's home:  Happy Birthday to me.

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