Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How do you resuscitate a dog?





“I’d rather have a different doctor,” I said 
as I made another appointment for Spencer,
my ailing golden-haired friend. The last visit
was unproductive, and a bit demeaning,
so I thought perhaps a new expert would see
his balance problems differently. He was limping
more, to be sure, and I was sliding down the dark tunnel
from concern to worry. I needed help with the landing
if despair was the outcome. “We’ll X-ray the shoulder,”
the new doc smiled, “and see if we find anything.” I
was the one who said the C-word. “My last golden had bone cancer,”
and I got a sympathetic look. “It’s common in them,” she answered,
“and often shows in the shoulders. We’ll see what’s there.”
I waited a long time outside on a cool and breezy day,
then went in to  wait some more in the lobby.

The pleasant, welcoming atmosphere behind the counter had changed tone.
Only one person was left attending the clients who were sitting and standing,
barking and meowing. The assistants who showed their faces
looked harried and disappeared quickly. I watched one man and his dog
get turned away until tomorrow. We were next. Spencer was led back to me
with apologies,  "We've had an emergency. Can I schedule you for tomorrow?”
Her face was dark as she tried to work the computer, and I leaned in.
“Is someone in trouble?” She nodded. “We’ve had an emergency,” was all
she offered. Her hands shook, and her smock was covered with light yellow hair.

We returned today for the X-ray, and Spencer seemed genuinely
delighted to be back, despite my apprehensions.
Another, different doctor read the negatives.
“Looks like a bone chip in his shoulder. Maybe some arthritis
broken away. The good news is that it's not cancer.
We should be able to manage the pain with meds until it eases.”
My relief was a flood in a small, sterile room. It lasted to the counter,
where I asked as we waited for the prescription to be filled,

and was told someone else’s Spencer had reacted badly to routine anesthesia
yesterday, and didn’t make it. How do you resuscitate a dog? I wondered,
and felt small at my worry and relief over my friend while someone else
walked out of the same clinic with an empty leash hanging limp
where their companion should be. I held my gently wagging buddy close
a long moment before closing the door of the car and driving us home,
where we could imagine we were safe together for a little while longer.




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