Suburban Snapshots

My Favorite Bitch

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Update: after a day in the specialists' office, Stella is doing much better though the source of her bleeding is still unknown. Thanks for all of your support!

The only reason I agreed to buying our own place after renting around Boston for more than ten years was that I wanted dogs. Two months after we became the proud owners of our condo we adopted Henry; a scrawny, terrified Dachshund who'd been removed from a puppy mill in North Carolina.

We had more disposable income then than we do now (and maybe than we ever will again), so when Henry's back gave out leaving him nearly paralyzed, we took out the credit that allowed us to spend $4,000 on surgery to save his legs. I'm not entirely sure he appreciated our dedication, as now he spends most of his time under my feet in the kitchen daring me to step on his delicate spine, and despite a series of ramps to accommodate our tiny, thumb-legged beast, he barks relentlessly at us until he is lifted to his destination. I love him, but he's kind of an asshole.

Soon after we brought Henry home, I decided that with us both working full-time he needed a companion. A friend connected me with Stella through a rescue organization out of Puerto Rico. I agreed to adopt her sight unseen, knowing only that she was a smallish terrier mix.

Stella has turned out to be far and away the best of our three dogs; she's good with kids and the elderly women who would nearly crush her with desperate hugs on our visits to the local nursing home. Stella is the most independent, not interested in staking claim to our bed or occupying our laps. She doesn't snatch food out of Anna's hands or chew up the mail. When I was pregnant she'd lay on my foot or shadow me around the house, always by my side. I don't love all my dogs "equally but in different ways" — I love Stella the best.

A month ago she started leaving blood stains on the couch and rugs. Some were small spots, one was alarmingly big. I found dried blood caked in her chin and neck fur. Her vet suspected periodontal disease and told us to keep an eye on her. She also informed us that Stella has a significant heart murmur. A second vet found troubling signs of heart disease. Stella's gums and tongue have gone pale, she's become lethargic, and she's starting to scare me.

Tests were recommended, and as much as I hate to do it — hate what I feel is judgement from clinic staff, hate the assumption that maybe I'm not willing to spend money on my animals rather than the truth that I just do not have the money to spend — I asked how much her tests could cost. I sighed heavily at the answer. I fought tears both at the potential diagnosis and the existence of a comma in our estimate. I looked at Steve, he looked resigned.

Some really wonderful, generous people have given significant help to get Stella well. Steve is selling a surfboard to cover some of the expense. But what I wanted to say to the well-meaning vet who said, "I know it sounds like a lot, but this test in a human would run two-thousand, not three hundred dollars." was that right now, three-hundred dollars might as well be two-thousand — might as well be ten-thousand.

Shit, am I seriously bitching about money again? What I meant to do was tell you that I have this awesome little dog who better goddam outlive these other two bed-hogging, baby-biting punks. She's my sweet little bitch and she's sick and she's got to be alright. If you find any spare karma in that jacket you haven't worn since last spring, maybe you could send it our way.

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