My dear little dog Rose, a British Staffordshire Bull Terrier who has been my constant companion for twelve years since the times I carried her on walks as a tiny puppy in a baby sling has just endured her first physical pain.
She’s been acting slightly off for about two weeks, still eagerly hiking but without her usual long-distance stamina, and when she stopped eating, I decided to take her to the vet—she always has a voracious appetite.
We went in forty-eight hours ago, and the extremely competent and empathetic vet, Dr. Smith, put her though a series of blood tests and x-rays that showed she had seven small black pebbles lodged in her stomach.
I’ve never known a dog to eat pebbles and wonder if other people have had this experience.
Rose couldn’t eliminate the pebbles due to a blockage, perhaps scar tissue, in her intestine, which accounted for her distress; Dr. Smith operated around midnight and took out the pebbles (I have them in a plastic bag), then sewed Rose up and put her on painkillers and antibiotics. She submitted to all this with the casual grace and ease that are her most significant characteristics.
I brought her home last night, with detailed instructions about food and care. Almost at once, she began a heart-whimpering, heaving and gasping; I burst into tears. I have never seen her in pain before.
I rushed her back to Dr. Smith who, again in the late dark cold hours of the night, took more x-rays, drew blood, and decided that nothing too serious was wrong. She gave her additional pain medication, and loaded her into my car—she’s not allowed to jump in on her own, as she always does.
About two A.M., Rose began to whimper and whimpered for about two hours as I tried to soothe her, from bed, with words. Finally I drew on many years of dog and baby training (the owner and the mother must have their sleep) and told her to stop whimpering.
She stopped, immediately, as she stopped at three months when, a lonely puppy, she slept under my bed.
And this morning, by a miracle, she is eighty percent herself, ravenously hungry (I can only give her meatball sized portions), eager to go out and lie in the sun as she always does at this time of day and this time of years.
We are blessed.