I was off to the grocery store when the phone rang.
“Greta can’t walk,” Patricia’s voice is a sweet embarrassment to honey, but I caught her urgency and was making a U-turn before hanging up.
Bananas can wait.
Greta had thrown up bile a few times on our hike in the Marin Headlands. Afterward she wouldn’t drink, although Marlowe was slurping it up after an hour on the trail. She was listless in the car on the way home, but she can’t walk?
At the house the plumber is finishing up—a clogged toilet is my designated emergency for the day—so I take all 5 ¾ pounds of Greta to the patio and gently place her on the stone. She flops to the ground, her little legs moving in black and white caricature, her fur going every which way as she struggles to walk.
The vet’s voicemail says they are closed from 12-2—it’s 12:30—but I don’t believe it. Sure enough, Arguello Pet Hospital is dark and locked, so it’s off to Animal Emergency Specialty Services on 9th Avenue. Why are the stop lights so slow today?
Hike. Bile. Tremors. Toxin? Marlowe fine. Neurology symptoms. We speak in shorthand, like you do when time matters
They swoop her back.
“It looks sort of like marijuana toxicity,” says Dr. Mackenzie Adams, a few minutes later. “But not quite. Has she been incontinent with urine?”
“No,” I say, happy there is one problem she doesn’t have. But maybe that would be better, at least then they would know what it is.
Doesn’t matter, though, what I want it to be because whatever it is. Is.
They are definitely keeping her. Tests. IV. This procedure. That one.
“Can I see her before I leave?”
A couple minutes later the technician brings her to me. “She was really brave when we did that,” nodding toward the IV catheter taped to her foreleg.
“She’s not brave,” I think about crying, which I haven’t let myself do up to now. “She’s sick.”
Greta is like a limp washrag, with no affect at all. Does she even know I’m holding her?
I notice, as I often do, how the light brown markings on her cheeks look like blush. Her fur is so soft and luxurious. I should brush her more. I should brush her teeth more. I should train her not to eat stuff!!! How do you do that? Her features are finer than Marlowe’s. She is a girl after all. A teen-age girl
And I wonder if I’ll ever see her again.