It began slowly and was perplexing to my people. I started to resist my daily walks, gently at first and then with more insistence. The man didn’t know what to do with me. He thought I only wanted to walk with my lady, but that was not the case. I only wanted to go outside when I absolutely had to attend to my toilet.
I could still force myself to move around the house in search of my lady, but that required great effort. I panted hard and often. My lady was becoming worried. I wasn’t worried. I knew I was loved.
On the first day of the new year I was bathed. My lady took me in the shower with her while Ash and Tess watched. I was embarrassed but secretly pleased with the attention. Then the man came with a towel and dried me. Feeling a little miffed, I shook water all over him. He laughed and mopped up around me.
My lady followed me to my favorite bed and took my picture. My hair still wet and spiky, I raised my head in protest. She burst out laughing when she saw the image. Even I laughed at the sight.
On January 2nd special friends came to visit. I had met them once before. They liked me on their first visit and asked if I could come for a sleepover in the city. I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave my lady, but did agree to consider the invitation. They called me Mr. Darcy and said I was enchanting.
My lady scheduled an appointment for me at the vet the following Wednesday. She hoped to discover why I had so little energy. On Tuesday I was feeling indisposed. My itchy skin condition was beginning to flare up. Soon I was like a dog possessed, chewing and scratching myself. It so distressed my lady. She tried everything to make me more comfortable. She put an ice pack on the worst spot, dressed me in a T-shirt and physically restrained me when I attacked my armpit.
My people stayed up with me most of the night. I was panting so heavily my lady feared I would have a heart attack. At one point the man lay with me on the rug and massaged my neck. For a few hours I was able to rest and stop scratching myself. At 4am I asked to go outside. I performed my toilet with some urgency and then returned to the house.
Once in the house I became nauseous and vomited on the dining room rug. I was humiliated and ran to my bed in shame. My lady wiped the spittle from my face and kissed me. She told me not to worry and quickly cleaned up what I had done. I was panting harder and could not stop scratching myself. My lady awakened the man and told him I should be lifted into the car to carry me to the vet.
I found myself unable to stand. They placed a towel under my belly and helped me stagger to the car. The man heaved me into the back of the station wagon. My lady hurriedly called the vet to say we were coming early. Once at the vet I was able to walk with assistance into the office. I clambered onto the scale and heard my lady gasp as the scale read 61 pounds. That cannot be, I heard her say. “He weighed 83 pounds less than two months ago”. The tech said the scale had been recalibrated and there was no way to know whether my first weight was accurate.
By now I was feeling weak and sat down heavily. I was beginning to share the alarm my lady felt for my condition. They left me at the vet for x-rays and other exams. I so hated to be without my people. It brought up all my insecurities from years past. Would they come back for me? I was too sick to ponder this for long and in a few hours they did indeed come back for me.
I was made up to look like a fool. With a short lampshade on my broad head I felt like little red riding hood. I also had a bootie on my foot so I couldn’t scratch myself. The vet seemed intent on robbing me of what little dignity I had left. Once again my lady left the vet with a bag of medications in hand as I wobbled out of the office and down the ramp to the car.
I could tell my lady was very concerned about my condition. I was beginning to fear the worst myself. But I was on my way home, which was all I really cared about. Once home I collapsed on my bed. My lady put a towel under my snout to catch my drool. She said she did not want me lying on anything wet.
The next few hours were a blur. I had no interest in food or broth. I drank a little when the water was brought to me. I didn’t have the energy to get up from my bed. I developed the dry heaves. For several hours my lady lay next to me trying to comfort me and moving me from the bed I most recently fouled to a clean, dry bed.
How I loved the touch of her hands. She wondered if I could hear her words of comfort since I am largely deaf. I told her I did not require hearing to know the meaning of her words. We were able to speak from heart to heart. The gift of hearing was not necessary. In the wee hours of the morning she called the emergency hospital and made arrangements to bring me in. As I was beginning to lose consciousness, I felt her warm tears on my face.
I arrived at the emergency hospital after a lengthy drive. I was lifted onto a stretcher and carried into the hospital. My lady stayed with me. The tech took my temperature and soon the doctor came in. She said my condition was very grave. My lady stroked my nose and made soothing sounds. She gave the doctor strict instructions that if I had to be put to sleep she was to be present regardless of the hour, unless my condition was so painful that I could not bear to live another moment.
Later that day my people came to visit. I lifted my head and looked at them. I was embarrassed for them to see me in my wretched condition. I was in a large cage in the hospital. I had fouled myself with urine and did not have the energy to clean myself. My lady crawled in the cage with me and took my head in her hands. The man stroked me on the neck and soon I was making little chortling sounds. They did not want to tire me, so after a short time they left hoping the IV fluids would stabilize my condition and allow me to recover.