Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Near Death Experience That Really Wasn't

About 6 months ago I took our dog to the vet for her annual checkup and shots. The vet informed me at that visit that Zoe was probably not long for this world. Because she's a rescue we're a little iffy on her exact age, but I'm pretty sure she's somewhere between 12 and 13 years old.

One Saturday morning in December I thought for sure she was checking out for good.

It was traumatic to say the least.

PB and I woke up around 5:30 to the sound of Zoe scrambling to get up, taking a few steps and falling down again. She did this a number of times so PB helped her to the backyard thinking she just needed to go to the bathroom and was having a hard time walking on our wood floors. When they both returned to our bedroom several minutes later PB told me that Zoe had fallen a couple of times while she was outside.

I was concerned but not terribly alarmed until Zoe started burrowing between PB's side of the bed and his end table. It was odd at first but then she started trembling and eventually couldn't stand up at all.

Pathetic right? Neither PB nor I wanted to verbalize what we thought was happening so I mentioned that I would call the vet when they opened in a couple of hours. At which point PB said, "You know if we take her in she's probably not coming hooooooome."

And that's when the floodgates opened.

Under the glow of candlelight.

The light had burned out on our ceiling fan the night before but PB didn't bother changing it because he would have plenty of time to deal with that in the morning, you know, not knowing we would be holding a deathbed vigil for the dog and all.

So we lit a candle.

I sobbed as I rubbed Zoe's ears. I told her she had been a wonderful dog. I prayed over her that God would make her passing peaceful for her.

Y'all I gave that dog permission to die.

It was just like the Melanie's deathbed scene in "Gone With the Wind".

And that's when the kids wandered in.

Now keep in mind this is the only dog PB has ever owned so he ran into some difficulty explaining to the children what was happening to Zoe. So I took over and explained that Zoe was really sick and it was the kind of sick the vet probably wouldn't be able to fix so it was likely the vet would be "putting her to sleep" and Zoe wouldn't be coming home from the vet.

There. That's a clear and gentle explanation of the matter, right?

"And then she'll wake up in a few days?" asked Doc.


"Um, no honey. Then she'll be dead," I said. I hastened to add that this was the kindest thing we could do for Zoe and that we NEVER DO THAT TO PEOPLE, just in case any of us would be making a trip to the hospital any time soon.

Doc looked pretty sad until Obi Wanda asked if we could get a puppy.

We called my dad who came over to stay with the kids while PB and I took Zoe on her final ride in the van. The children kissed Zoe and told her goodbye, we loaded her onto her dog bed and carried her to the van....

...where she promptly stood up and smiled at us.

Are you kidding me?

We continued the drive of doom thinking this was just a final burst of life and were still convinced this was it. In fact, we still had to carry her from the van into the office where everyone gave us that sympathetic "we know your dog's about to die" look.

The vet took her to the back to examine her and returned with a big smile on her face, "It's only a slipped disc. We'll just give her a cortisone shot and some drugs and she'll be fine."

I'd like to say I jumped with joy but that would be a big, fat lie. PB and I just sat there in silence because we had both been hit with the same truth: eventually, we would have to go through this all over AGAIN. Only next time the kids probably won't believe us because we had told them Zoe wasn't coming home so we'll have to work even harder and say that, no really, she's gonna die this time.

I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

And one day I get to do it all over again!


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