It took me less than ten minutes to get this “money” shot. They’re such good dogs. 🙂
Well, anyway, he’s lost a pants leg.
A few weeks ago Gromit developed a slight limp. It went away for a few days and then returned, and B and I debated about taking him in to see the vet. We figured since it was barely noticeable and it didn’t seem to slow Gromit down, we would just wait and see.
We finally took him in on Saturday morning, and the vet said to give him Rimadyl for pain/inflammation and just wait some more. On Sunday evening Gromit bounded off the porch and immediately stopped using his right rear leg. We took him back to the vet on Monday, where he was sedated for a full examination. The vet determined that he had a full ACL tear, and a referral was called in to a local surgery clinic. We discussed our options, researched all available surgeons, called for references (no joke), and decided on a repair procedure known as TPLO. We took turns working from home so we could sit with him and haul him back and forth from the backyard when he needed to potty. We fretted over our choice of surgeon, our choice of procedure, and what the next ten weeks would be like.
The surgery took place yesterday (Thursday), and we got to pick our little boy up today. Since I had to return to work, B opted to stay home with him this afternoon. For the next few days we’ll administer antibiotics and two types of pain medication twice daily, ice his leg, massage the area around it to encourage blood flow to the wound, and, when he’s up to it, manually flex the knee joint to prevent stiffness. For the first two weeks he’ll wear the cone of shame and we’ll carry him back and forth from the backyard so he can do his business. The rest of that time he will have to remain stationary. And if we leave him for any length of time, he needs to be crated.
After two weeks, we’ll take him back to the surgeon’s office for an evaluation, to remove his stitches, and to plan his therapy. At that point we’ll begin taking him to the clinic twice weekly, where he will work with a therapist and walk on an underwater treadmill. We’ll also start our own therapy routine at home. After six weeks he’ll be due for a re-evaluation and X-rays, to be sure that the bone is healing properly. And from that point until the ten-week mark, we’ll keep him from running, jumping, or playing…a seemingly impossible feat with this dog.
Here’s what all of that has meant to us.
On Monday when B and I found out Gromit needed an operation, we were both very upset. B came home to sit with Gromit while I returned to work. The vet recommended that we separate Gromit and Molly from one another during at least the first part of this process, so I drove to meet my mother and hand Molly off to her. I knew Molly would be spoiled rotten at my parents’ house, hanging out with their two labs and getting treats just for being there, but I couldn’t help crying most of the way home. I felt as though I’d banished a member of the family and dumped her, and I kept picturing her face in my mom’s car window as she watched me drive away.
On Tuesday I stayed home while B went to work and made arrangements to cancel his upcoming travel. (Thankfully, we work for a company that allows us to work from home as needed, and our bosses are compassionate people who didn’t laugh when we told them we wanted to sit at home with our dog.) I spent the day at my computer with Gromit at my side, taking breaks to half-carry, half-guide him out to do his business. B came home early to be with us, and we spent our evening on the living room floor with Gromit, watching TV together.
On Wednesday we met with a surgeon to discuss our options, selected the surgery we wanted Gromit to have, and bawled our eyes out–okay, I bawled my eyes out while B quietly hugged me–as Gromit was led away. We got a call that evening to say that the surgeon was stuck performing an emergency operation and we could take Gromit home for the night to wait for his postponed surgery the next morning.
On Thursday B and I went together (again) to leave Gromit at the clinic. He cheerfully bounded away from us on his three good legs (probably thinking, “Ha! These guys don’t do anything! They just put me in a cage and don’t stick me with needles or make me take pills!”) and realized just before walking through the door to the surgery wing that he was going in alone. Again, I had that feeling I was leaving my child behind as he turned toward us, saw us standing far behind him, and immediately his ears flattened and his smile disappeared. B had to usher me out the door before I could start crying again at the thought of all the pain he was about to endure and how I couldn’t explain it to him.
Last night I realized how truly lonely our house can be without our dogs here. We went out for dinner (plus appetizers! plus dessert! plus more time spent stalling!) after work just so we didn’t have to spend the whole evening at home. I was restless and depressed, so I spent the rest of the evening on the phone with my dad, who has been spoiling Molly this week. He stopped at one point during the call to tell me that Molly had heard him say Gromit’s name and immediately she’d started searching the house as if she thought she’d find him somewhere. Then he cheered me up by telling me that he was baking gingerbread cookies, and that he’d let each of the three dogs make one with their pawprint in it. I made the mistake of thinking he was only joking.
My boss, who is somewhat indifferent to dogs, has taken the time to ask me about Gromit every time we’ve spoken this week. Several coworkers have also been stopping by my office to check on things, and my facebook wall has been filled with well wishes for Gromit. (Not to mention, my friends haven’t harassed me for the fact that all of my recent updates have been about our dog. And that’s not only because he has a nationwide fan club of people who have fallen in love with him.) My mother has been calling to check in during her vacation in Florida, and my dad and sister have been relaying updates about Molly, telling us how much she’s enjoying her little vacation.
I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on why this is so hard for us, and why it was so easy for us to declare that price wasn’t an issue when the surgeon told us we were opting for the most expensive procedure. I’ve known lots of people that I thought were a bit ridiculous about their dogs, either because they dressed the dogs up in clothing and ribbons or because they constantly referred to the dogs as “children.” (So I may be guilty of the latter, but I always begin the conversation by saying “our dogs” first so the person I’m talking to doesn’t jump to the conclusion that I’m talking about real, human children. And that makes it okay, right? Right?) And to be honest, I often laugh at those people.
Yet here we are, spending our weekend on the floor with our dog and fretting over him because we know he’s uncomfortable. And here we are, realizing we just gave up a significant chunk of what we’re saving for a down payment on a house, just so we’d know Gromit has full use of his leg for the rest of his life. And we’re both perfectly content with that.
We love our little boy. And we love and miss our little girl, even though we truly hope she’s forgotten about us for the time being. And I’m ready for this next ten weeks to fly by, so we can all be under the same roof again, healed, jumping, playing, and running like we used to. Or maybe I’ll just leave the jumping and playing to the hounds, who I know will be ecstatic to be reunited with one another.
And ohhh man. If this is how I deal with our dogs being hurt, I know that one day our real children will absolutely break my heart.
Thanks to M for her handiwork. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks those pictures of our dogs deserve to be PhotoShopped.
My money’s on Gromit.
…because we don’t yet have children to make fun of.
Anytime B is gone and I work too late too many nights in a row, I come home expecting at least one household item to be sacrificed to the doggy gods. So earlier this week when I arrived home after dark I took a deep breath and braced myself for the destruction that awaited me…and I found nothing.
As usual the dogs greeted me first thing, wagging gleefully and telling me how appreciative they were that I’d returned to the dungeon to rescue them from eternal boredom. I didn’t see any remains of books, walls, or furniture, so I loudly praised them as we went about our normal evening routine, checking the mail and setting out their dinner.
Then I spied the damage.
In the middle of the living room lay the empty carcass of one of the dogs’ overstuffed beds, covered by a thick layer of its innards. The second my eyes rested on the carnage, both dogs began their disappearing act around the corner, where they could observe the wrath of Mama without being in the path of any flying objects. When I turned to face them, their eyes widened in fear and they both nervously started licking their lips. (Really, you’d think I beat these animals, from the act they put on when they’ve been bad.)
I called both dogs to me and commanded them to sit while I thought about what I was going to do. Gromit obeyed, and Molly slowly crawled over to where I stood. And the second she got within a few inches of the mountain of white foam and cedar shavings, she turned on her doggy third grader kung fu and became dead weight, flattening her entire body to the floor. With her legs splayed at all angles and her big brown eyes gazing fearfully up at me, I was reminded instantly of Allie’s “helper dog” when it encountered snow:
What could I do? I was immediately seized with laughter. In all my experience–yes, there’s a long history–with Molly’s destruction and resultant groveling, I’ve never seen her take the act this far. She was really outdoing herself, transforming her stout 87-pound body into a filthy white “bear” rug with huge brown eyes.
My anger evaporated and I banished both dogs back to the yard, trying to hide my laughter from them. And while they frolicked and celebrated their narrow escape from death, I set to work cleaning up the mess. As I stuffed batting and cedar chips back into the dog bed, I marveled once more at all the things Molly has destroyed in her three years.
This morning I emailed an account of the story to B, whose laughter was followed by, “The girl eats her emotions–that’s just the way she is.” And that’s when it hit me, because I’ve heard him utter a nearly identical statement about me.
The truth is, Molly’s dog bed…and chair legs, and books, and woven rugs…are to her what Ben & Jerry’s is to me. When her world turns upside down and she can’t seek comfort in a carton of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, she goes for the next best thing: a table leg. No wonder she’s got issues!
B is currently out of the country, so what better time to start disclosing his deepest, darkest secrets…right?
This is why I’m going to tell you about his horcrux. Scratch that; I’m going to tell about his horcruxes, because there are two of them.
We’re coming up on our fifth wedding anniversary this Christmas, so my already-confident husband is now allowed to shed a bit more of his tough guy Marine exterior and do crazy things like announcing publicly that he was excited about taking me to see the latest Harry Potter movie. It may have taken me nearly six years to do it, but I have turned B into a Harry Potter fan, and yes, I feel a need to broadcast the news.
Just before B left home a couple of weeks ago I started to get a bit emotional over the fact that we wouldn’t be able to spend the holidays together. For some reason, even though we’ve endured three Marine Corps deployments this short separation was the most difficult to for us to begin. I shed some tears and I may have become a little bit clingy that last week. And when B and I didn’t happen to be simultaneously moping, he did his World’s Best Husband thing and pulled out all the stops to make me feel better. He did all the normal sweet husband stuff and then he turned on the humor.
B has a favorite t-shirt, a gray FFA advertisement that he picked up at Goodwill. He wears his favorite t-shirt all the time, and when I comment about how he shouldn’t wear his favorite shirt all the time, he puffs up his chest and proudly rubs the logo imprinted upon it. The logo in question is the silhouette of a pig. And the pig in question? It has stripes. I’m not sure why the pig has stripes, but I do know that any pig with stripes is worthy of a nickname. And what B knows is that any t-shirt that succeeds as a wife-repelling device definitely deserves a nickname and maybe even its own hanger. So now when we talk about B’s t-shirt we fondly refer to the zebra pig.
B also has a favorite dog, our boy Gromit. From the first day my boys were inseparable. B would rush home immediately after work to spend time with our new puppy, teaching him to sit, stay, fetch, and save the world. And the first morning that I had to go to work and B didn’t I got a surprise in my inbox: an adorable photo of my husband with a little black puppy on his lap, both of them looking eagerly at the camera as they plotted to surprise me. This man and his dog are partners in crime, and in the eyes of each the other can do no wrong.
Two weeks ago in the midst of all my boo hooing over B’s impending trip and of B’s attempts to make me stop moping and laugh instead, he decided to call upon his newly expanded vocabulary and declare that he was leaving me in charge of his two horcruxes. He wore the zebra pig t-shirt and then, instead of packing it in his luggage as he’d planned, he quietly slipped it under my pillow for safekeeping. Then he solemnly declared to me that our boy Gromit would help watch over me while he was away during the holidays. And thus the horcruxes were identified.
But I take back what I said earlier about there being two horcruxes, because when B’s announcement about Gromit and zebra pig succeeded in making me giggle, he decided to share the news that there is a third horcrux: myself.
That’s right, y’all. I’m a horcrux. And that, my friends, is what love looks like.
While vegging out in front of the TV in a fatigue-induced stupor on Friday night I solved not one, but two, mysteries that have perplexed me of late.
1. The Case of the Perpetually Fur-Covered Loveseat
2. The Case of Laser-Burned Holes in the Dog Food Container
Hey Cyclops, watch where you point those things!