Sunday, February 20, 2011

Puppy Love and Weekend Smiles

Far too often, I find myself questioning if taking on the role of dog owner was really a wise decision.  I do love dogs, and I certainly love our sweet Pringle.  It's rather hard not to love him -- the softest fur, the sweetest face, the very definition of unconditional love.  But there's so much fur, and the almost constant need for attention.  I'm gone much of the time, and feel this perpetual, nagging guilt for being a cruddy dog owner.  And then there are the inevitable trips to the vet which never cost less than $300.

We had an unscheduled one of those this weekend.  He'd had this spot on his arm (would it be the elbow? or the shoulder?) that I thought, initially, was just a scrape that would heal on its own.  But it didn't.  He kept licking at it, and it would bleed, and I finally resolved to take him in to have it looked at.  So, to the doggy doc we went.  We soon learned it wasn't a scrape after all -- it was a tumor.  Small, and not terribly concerning.  But, given its location, best to remove, rather than leaving it there to continue as a source of irritation -- for both him and me. 

Okay - fine, remove that sucker!  I was all for it.  And though far from ecstatic about the $330 estimate for this latest veterinary adventure, not shocked either.  So off the tumor came, and two hours later, Riley and I returned to retrieve our retriever, now sporting a shaved elbow/shoulder, stitches, and an "Elizabethan Collar."

He seemed to handle the whole process well.  But he nearly gave me a heart attack at 5:00 this morning.  I was already feeling guilty about that horrid collar.  I don't care if it is clear -- no dog is happy to have his head stuck through a lampshade.  It makes even the simplest of doggy delights, like sniffing the ground or lapping up water, or gnawing on a stuffed fox, next to impossible.  And it seemed like it fit him so tight, I worried it might suffocate him.  So, when he re-settled himself with his poor, coned head resting on my leg in the wee hours of the morning, I didn't really protest.

Truthfully, it was probably more a function of laziness than guilt on my part.  But either way, I let him stay that way, until, finally, unable to find a comfortable position myself, I decided it was time for him to move back over to his own corner of the bed.  I sat up and called his name and patted the other side of the bed.  And nothing happened.  There was no response from him whatsoever.  I took a closer look, and saw that his eye was half open, but there was no movement, no reaction.  I couldn't see him breathing.  I called his name again, and still nothing. 

And for about 5 seconds, my heart sunk through my stomach and my brain began the process of thinking the unthinkable.  No.  No, no, no.  I don't care how much I gripe about his flippin' fur, the chewed up paper towels, the bagel he stole from me, the stuffed animals he regularly steals from Riley.  NO! 

I thought I'd lost him.  I thought I'd let my poor sweet baby suffocate with a plastic cone on his head while laying there next to me.  I jumped up off the bed and squeaked, "Pringle!"  And suddenly, he lifted his head up.  And looked at me as if to say, "You aren't seriously waking me up this early, are you?"  Thank God!  I hugged him and kissed his nose, and patted his head.  And then got him to move back to his corner of the bed.  But my heart didn't stop racing for a long time after that.

Yes -- being his human is sometimes a royal pain.  But, no -- I wouldn't trade it.  I'm proud and honored to play that role.

On a lighter note...the weekend's smiles:
  • Having girl talk with Riley.
  • Keeping my good friend company by text while she embarked on a much needed adventure, and hearing about said adventure the following morning.
  • Seeing the e-collar on Pringle -- it's horrid and tragic in so many ways.  But it is awfully funny looking, too.
  • Spying Kurt and Brenda Warner and kids at the movie theater.
  • Getting out for a girls' night of movie/dinner/drinks with Cari and Tina.
  • Being left speechless at times by the movie we saw.  ("No Strings Attached" -- cute, funny, endearing, and, in a couple places, unapologetically crude.)
  • Recognizing and recalling that chemistry.
  • Watching my girl ride her bike with confidence today.
  • Enjoying the beautiful day by spending much of it outside.
  • Burgers and milkshakes for lunch.
  • Finally getting that gnarly pile of branches wrangled, cut up, bundled and out to the curb.
  • Relaxing in the hot tub with Riley.
  • Walking together to pick up our pizza-pizza for dinner.
  • Realizing the abundance of smiles with which I'm blessed when I spend time with my daughter.

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