This past week just wiped me out, it was exhausting, emotionally. It made me realize that there’s like this emotional reservoir we have in our bodies and how exhausted you are depends on how big your reservoir is and what you fill it with. If you fill a medium-sized emotional reservoir with the unsweetened lemonade of unrequited love, for example, you’re kind of 10-20% exhausted. If you fill a deep reservoir with the lumpy pancake batter of putting your pet cat of sixteen years to sleep, you’re maybe 50-65% exhausted. And if you’re diagnosed with terminal cancer on the day your spouse and child get killed in a plane crash, it doesn’t matter what size your emotional reservoir is, you’re pretty much up to the top with quick-drying cement and you are allowed to cry all you want until you die and no one is allowed say to you, Well, it could be worse, you’re a spoiled American, at least you don’t live in Rwanda, now those people have something to cry about. No, you get to cry based on the total volume of your reservoir multiplied by the density of what it’s holding, and if people in Rwanda have emotional reservoirs full of hydrochloric acid that still doesn’t mean you don’t get to cry a little bit with your pancake batter.
For example. I had taken Katie the Bulldog down to our breeder, Marcel, because she was ready to go, ready to get knocked up, doggy style. Marcel is in Anaheim, so I actually took Katie to a halfway point between us, which turned out to be a gas station on the corner of Winnetka and Ventura Boulevard in L.A. Marcel showed up in a van and as a surprise he had brought along Georgie Girl, who is Katie’s mother. They hadn’t seen each other for almost a year, and they took one look at each other and put their noses together and licked each other’s faces really softly. My heart, it did melt somewhat more when Katie jumped and put her paws on Marcel’s thighs and got real quiet. She does the same thing with Jack, she puts her paws up and looks deep into his eyes. She doesn’t do that to me, I tell you what, she saves her big love for the leader of the pack.
But here’s a picture of her mom, Georgie:
Marcel looked at Katie’s eye, the bad one on the side where she’d been HIT BY A CAR, and he said, Hmm, you know, sometimes they do a procedure where they tack up the dog’s third eyelid — just sew it right up so it covers the eyeball — and that lets the eye heal, you just squeeze in some ointment underneath the sutures a few times a day and then a month later they snip the stitches and voilà! Good as new.
That sounded horrible but okay, so I told Marcel if that’s what his bulldog specialist thought would work then I would allow it, and I handed him a paper bag with the ointment and drops I’d been putting in Katie’s eye and he said he’d keep them up over the weekend while they were doing the breeding thing.
Well, Katie had a great time at Marcel’s over the weekend with her mom and two of her littermates: a sister, Blondie,
and a brother, Eno.
Blondie had already had her litter, and when I picked Katie up Marcel told me how Katie had loved playing with Blondie’s puppies. But then Blondie would start getting protective and motherly and try to bring the pups back to their bed, so Marcel would separate Katie from them just to give Blondie a break. And then the pups would get bored and go looking for Katie and it would start all over again.
So Aunt Katie was a hit, but her eye, the one on the side where she got HIT BY THE CAR, was getting worse. It was dry and had this really ugly ulcer on the cornea. Marcel’s vet had taken one look at her eye and the meds I’d left with Marcel and said, She needs a specialist for this, her tear ducts aren’t working and to me it looks so bad that she might even need to have the eye removed.
So Marcel didn’t have her knocked up, and when he gave me the news about her eye, in the gas station parking lot on the corner of Winnetka and Ventura Boulevard on a Tuesday morning, all of a sudden I was choking back the sobs. I guess he figured on giving me the worst-case scenario, because he just piled it on. Apparently sometimes, with the shock of the eye-removal operation, a dog will “throw a coat.”
“Throw a what?” I asked, horrified.
Throw a coat. That’s when all their fur falls out.
Have her eye removed? And then watch all her fur fall out.
And then Marcel went on to say that if we couldn’t pay for the operation we could give her up to rescue, but if they found someone to pay for the eye removal we would lose Katie because they’d place her in a new home, but if they couldn’t find a new home they’d probably just PUT HER DOWN. Of course Marcel said that if it came to that he’d take her back, he’d find a way, he wouldn’t let her DIE.
Oh, you should have seen me crying then. My wee, shallow emotional reservoir was full of curdled milk.
But it can be a really useful thing to be crying so that all you can do is croak when you’re on your cell in the parking lot of a gas station in the San Fernando Valley calling the office of a veterinary ophthalmologist who at first says she can’t schedule your dog in until Friday, because with all your choking back the sobs and thinking that you’ve inadvertently blinded your lovely dog she may take pity and call you back and say, If you can get your dog up here by 3:30 we’ll squeeze her in today.
So we did, and now Katie has four kinds of drops eight times a day. And two ointments six times a day, two oral antibiotics once a day, and some good old-fashioned eyewash first thing in the morning. I am basically her human tear duct for the next six to twelve weeks. Her eye looks a lot better, the cornea’s not bulging out like it was, but it’s still red and I’m not so sure she can see much out of it right now. Which gives me the advantage when we’re playing, I can do that thing where I wiggle my fingers at her good eye to distract her and then with the other hand I can come at her blind side and steal the tennis ball right out of her mouth. Well, actually, that only worked once, she caught on pretty quick.
And Jackson has been a prince, so just don’t even think about it, okay? Just drop it.