My baby is sick.

Not my Addie Baby.  My other baby.  The furry, black one who follows me everywhere I go.  Oliver.  Oliver is sick.  Maybe sick isn’t the right word.  When you’re sick you go to the doctor and get medicine and you get better.  Oliver is hurt, although that may not be a good description either.  If he, say, had a broken bone, he would go to the doctor and get a cast and lay around the house for 6 to 8 weeks and recover.  No, there’s something else wrong with Oliver and we’re not quite sure what.

This morning I had to drop Mamo off at the airport for her trip home.  Today concludes her stay with Addie Baby.  Shortly before we left I took Oliver out in the backyard to play fetch.  He ran around, did his business and ran back in the house.  Minutes later I saw him sitting a little funny.  He just looked awkward.  And then he was extending his rear right leg, like he was stretching.  Except, he wasn’t unstretching it.  Soon he was dragging it around.  Since he couldn’t make it to his bed, I brought his bed to him, helped him in it and called Scott to have him contact the vet.  Then I had to leave him and head for the airport.  I had debated taking him with me, but at the time I thought he was hurt.  He’s a nervous car-passenger and didn’t want him to get too excited on the drive and hurt his leg even more.

I swung by Scott’s work on the way home to pick him up because I needed the help  – physically and emotionally.  Getting a 70 pound dog who can’t walk and a toddler who can, out the door to the vet seemed like too much for me.  I was hoping that when we got home, Ollie would have worked out whatever happened to his leg and he would be greeting us at the door with his tail wagging.  Scott would be annoyed that I made him come home from work for absolutely nothing and we’d all laugh.  The end.  That didn’t play out.  Ollie did greet us at the door, but it was not how I hoped.  He had somehow mustered the strength to drag himself from the living room to the front door and was waiting for us, panting and shaking, when we opened the door.

We immediately put him in the car and drove to the vet for X-Rays.  X-Rays  which showed there is absolutely nothing wrong with him.  That’s probably the last thing I wanted to hear.  If something were wrong with him, at least we would know what needed to be fixed.    By the time they carried him back into the exam room where we were waiting for him, his other leg had stopped working.  They referred us to a neurologist in the big city, and that’s where he is right now.  He’s getting all kind of expensive tests from expensive doctors and all we can do is wait.

I know that dogs die.  They get hurt, and sometimes they can’t be fixed and they die.  I saw Marley and Me for pete’s sake!  But not my dog.  My dog is only two years old.  That stuff happens to old dogs who have lived really long, happy  lives.  Seeing my young dog in that position is not something I was prepared for.  I didn’t think I would need to prepare for it for at least another decade.

There are a lot of people out there who will say, “He’s just a dog, you can get another one.”  But Oliver has never just been a dog to me.  The decision to adopt a dog was not one that we made lightly.  We never went out looking to buy a puppy, we never looked at breeders or even went to a shelter to browse.  Oliver came to us through circumstances that we could never recreate.  He found us. And ever since that day has been as much a part of this family as me or Scott or Addison.  He is my constant companion. He often drives me crazy but he’s always there.  He’s always there at the park watching over Addison and giving me a little nudge when he feels like she’s wandering too far away.  He’s always there under Addie’s high chair to pick up her dinner scraps.  He is the first thing Addison looks for when I pick her up from her crib in the morning and if he’s not there, she calls for him.  And when we brought Addison home from the hospital and I was rattled and sore and swollen and sleep deprived, he got up with me at every single middle of the night feeding.  He kept me company in the living room until Addison finished eating and it was time to go back to bed.  He shared my postpartum exhaustion.  He didn’t have to.  That’s just the kind of dog he is.

Oliver is a constant presence in our home and in our life.  Even as I write this entry about him, I find myself looking around to make sure he’s not eating Addison’s snack.  Whatever belief system it is you subscribe to, whether it’s praying or rubbing a statue’s belly or meditating, please send some good thought’s out there into the universe for Oliver today.  My heart is breaking and I don’t think it could take having to explain this one to Addison.