Dog Days

It’s a bit past two in the morning, and my eyelids are heavy, but I’m not quite ready to turn out the light. I am writing in bed, where the words flow more freely than anywhere else, except in the bath, though I never write there, I just have small thinking sessions.

As I write this, Fuzzy is upstairs playing computer games and Miss Cleo is flopped out between the edges of the covers, and the edge of Fuzzy’s pillow, with her nose under the comforter and one paw on top of it. She isn’t snoring yet, though she does. Low, doggy snores that sound as furry as her wriggly black and white and pink body is. Soft. She’s so soft, like a plush toy. She looks like one, when she’s all flat and asleep.

Zorro is not sleeping, and though I have the covers drawn up to my chest, almost, and he is on top of them, he is pressed tightly against my right thigh, and I can feel his head bobbing as he licks his crossed paws. Like cats, chihuahuas are obsessive about grooming themselves. Unlike most other dogs, chihuahuas have no body odor. In fact, this morning Zorro smelled like marshmallows and cinnamon, which is odd, since I haven’t used the latter in a while, and we don’t have the former in the house. When I turn out the light, he will walk to the end of the bed, around my feet, and back up, where he will curl up against my left side, nestling into the curve of my arm. He does not like to sleep between us – we humans move around too much.

Zorro had a tough morning. We took him to the vet who confirmed that yes, he has a tooth root abscess. He tried to pull the tooth (with a local), but our boy dog wouldn’t cooperate. He’s usually good at the vet, but I can’t blame him – I find it difficult to sit still when a dentist is going after my teeth, too. The vet assured us that while a ruptured abscess would be gross, and would require cleaning/disinfecting, it won’t kill the dog. This is good, as we were worried about his, having heard horror stories. He also said that the the tooth has to come out or this will happen again, and that it will require general anesthesia. We expected this. We were not expecting to be told that this could not happen without a full cardio workup ($500) because Zorro’s stage three heart murmur is now a four-and-a-half to five (on a scale of six). Frankly, I think it’s stupid, as having a picture of his heart will not reduce the risk one iota, but I really wasn’t in the mood to argue. I AM asking a vet-friend who no longer practices, but teaches, for a second opinion.

His last dental cost $500. I don’t have a spare thousand lying around to spend on Zorro right now.

So the plan, for the moment, is to give him his course of antibiotics and pain meds, watch the abscess, and clean/disinfect if it ruptures. A rupture MAY push the tooth out, or it may fall out (he lost the same tooth on the other side earlier this year, with no warning – we simply found a dog tooth on the floor one morning). In a couple weeks, when cash flow is better, and if my vet-friend supports the decision, we’ll do the cardio stuff. Zorro’s showing no symptoms right now – no coughing, no energy loss (he’s more energetic than ever), no struggling to breathe. These are all good things.

I’d feel more comfortable about all of this if I liked my vet more. I don’t dislike him. I just don’t have a connection with him. I don’t believe he has a vested interest in my dog’s well-being, and this worries me.

On the other hand, I love Zorro. I love Miss Cleo as well, but Zorro…Zorro’s special. He always knows when I don’t feel well, and stays near by. He growls at possums that are twice his size, and tries to bait the Rottie across the fence. When I have cramps, he curls up against my lower back, and if I make popcorn he goes through his entire repertoire of tricks just to get a piece while it’s still hot. He’s a very sweet dog, and we rescued him from the streets.

He’s also at least ten, and possibly older. Somewhere between eleven and thirteen, and while chihuahuas can live to fifteen or eighteen years old, Zorro’s already been through severe epilepsy (cluster grand mal seizures, weekly for over a year) and bounced back from it. So chances are even if he’s as young as we think he his, he’s not as resilient as we want him to be.

It’s taken me almost 20 minutes to write this. I’m tired, and itchy, and post-show wired-ness has dissipated, so I think I shall switch off the computer, and the light, and get some sleep.

Especially since Zorro is looking at me with big brown eyes, and Miss Cleo has started snoring, and somehow it feels as if this year, August really does have “dog days,” even if it IS my birthday month.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Dog Days by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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