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Saturday, October 10, 2015

On maintenance and performance

Yesterday was Pep's physical. Like Salsa, her muzzle is graying. Nonetheless she still has the hearing of a bat, the gait of a gazelle, and the vertical leap of Wilt Chamberlain.

Her heart, though.

A murmur undetected when we adopted her eleven and a half years ago, occasional seven years ago, and slight two years ago has catapulted into major. "Precordial thrill" sounds like something good, but it's not. In this case, I would delight if the thrill were gone.

Pep, though, knows none of this. Even as I type she is happily resting, having just enjoyed a jaunt through this morning's spitty rain. Her fur is all disco, which is how we describe the crimp that happens when she gets slightly wet.

Try not to let her get excited.

How do you do this to a dog who delights in the first morning light, runs full barrel to the magnolia tree, turns tilting at a forty five degree angle to come back to her bush, crouches underneath waiting to see what moves in the grass?

How do you do this to a dog who greets her boy each day by poking her sharp nose into his legs until he sits, pushes him down so she can clamber onto his chest one paw on either shoulder, licks his cheeks as if to take the skin off, then nestles her head under his chin as if he isn't seventeen but still the little boy of five who picked her out of all the others?

How do you do this to a dog who sees furniture as a means of standing on higher ground, walking as oppressed running, and woodland creatures as meat-flavored toys?

You may need to take her to N.C. State to see cardiology.

How do you do this to a dog who trembles in the car, paces awkwardly on the back seat in terror, pants like she hasn't had water in days?

How do you do this to a dog who hides under your legs in exam rooms, tucks her tail between her legs like a sumo's belt, furiously scrambles her feet on bare tile in an ever increasing frenzy to escape?

How, when you know that at her age, she is unlikely to be a good candidate for surgery and even if she were, you know in your heart you would not put her through that?

How do you do this?

You don't.

You get her the three year rabies booster, you get her the parvo and the distemper, and you take your dog home to live.
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