Life turns on a dime…

View from the Marin Headlands where Greta got sick.

View from the Marin Headlands where Greta got sick.

I spend Thursday afternoon in a daze. In a couple short hours Greta, my adorable little Papillon has gone from perfectly healthy to deathly ill.

How do people manage when it’s a child?

Thought I was doing something good for her, a hike in nature. Exercise. Lots of good sniffing for her and her brother. And yet here we are. The vet bill well into four figures–she’ll have to stay the night for sure–before we even get serious. The initial blood tests are off, liver and kidney. “But some of that might be because she was vomiting.” And the world keeps spinning. Joan is visiting from Minnesota, helping me navigate, maintain sanity, and doing parking management, always a challenge in San Francisco. We’ve got tickets to Alcatraz this evening. Do I want to go?

Hard to be enthusiastic, but sitting home staring at the walls isn’t going to help Greta. And contrary wise might help me.

It’ll be hours before the vet calls, so we’re off on a quintessential San Francisco experience. Alcatraz is great–buy your tickets early!–though looking at the cells I can’t help think of how much imprisonment we do to ourselves. How much of my state is recrimination and fear? Does that make it less real? Some of the prisoners here dug their way out through concrete with a SPOON. Which says a lot about the human desire for freedom.

“Greta is a lot brighter,” Dr. Adams tells me few hours later, “and she’s walking normally. But definitely not ready to go home tonight.” Probably in the morning. They’ve given her charcoal to absorb poisons and several other poly-syllabic medications. The vet says we probably won’t know what she ate, but they want to do more tests to see if her liver is functioning as it should.

Marlowe is not himself. Quieter. Lethargic. Wish I could tell him what’s up, as I wish she could tell me what she ate.

I call management at the Marin Headlands hoping for insights. No other reports of dog poisoning. And, no surprise, they are more concerned about security at the park than Greta. They worry about about people planting marijuana or leaving any other toxins around. Though the vet said that the “toxin” could be something as simple as moldy fruit.

At 8:30 the next morning I get to pick her up. Except for the shaved patch on her right foreleg you wouldn’t know anything had been amiss.

She jumps in the car. Shiny eyes. Wags. Good eye contact. Marlowe gives her a good sniff.

Several days later I’m still trying to get the results of the last blood tests. Suppose on one level that’s fine. It means Greta is totally good and they are focused on to the next emergency.

As I’m standing in the lobby waiting for Greta a man is stands there clenched, a bloody towel over his right shoulder.

“Is your dog going to be okay?” I ask.

“Don’t know yet.”

“They do a great job here.”

Greta....and Marlowe...leaving the vet's office. Beautiful as ever.

Greta….and Marlowe…leaving the vet’s office. Beautiful as ever.


About Karen Ray

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