Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Friday, December 29, 2006

A visit to the vet

He left the room slowly, stoicly, this older tall man with a distinguished, neatly trimmed white beard and moustache, whose bright muffler scarf hung evenly on either side of his neck over his sharp holiday shirt.

Without a sound or stopping to pay the bill, he left the waiting room and office nearly in a trance.

I'd seen that look before. The soldier who suddenly realizes his buddy did not make it.

Sick OscarMy wee pup Oscar was next to be seen by the vet. Oscar's Teddy Bear face hung out of my jacket as we moved toward the door the departing man left open.

Only to be stopped at the sight of a slight, aged woman wearing a fashionable red pants suit - whose alabastar hair appeared uncharacteristically tossled. She wept silently into a paper tissue over a small pink animal carrier sitting on the examination table.

Unable to move, her free hand rested on its handle.

It didn't matter the cage door remained open.

It was empty.

She was frozen with despair, this despondent woman whose back bowed with osteoperosis; her fingers gnarled with arthritis.

I could not stop watching her.

As much as I wanted to give her the privacy I'm certain she was unaware had been innocently violated, I also wanted to be there with her.

I wondered why someone wasn't there with her, for her.

I imagined the man who left was her husband. He had to leave when he did, knowing that he would have to pass through all of us sitting in the waiting room and the office staff. She had already surrendered to her grief.

Was it a little dog - those damned things can worm their way into your heart faster than software becomes obsolete. Unlike their larger relatives, little dogs tend to be carried. That means they are held in your arms - against your body. When your skin doesn't feel that little ball of puff pressure, the sense that something is missing lingers.

Or perhaps it was a cat who stayed with them for years and years. A kitty who was petted by both of them as they sat on the couch conversing. The couch that was replaced four times while they continued the same discussion, still petting Fluffy, who lay between them, oscillating as if she were on some sort of kitty rotisserie - turning just so, making certain every inch of her fur was carressed, snuggled or fondled.

Either way, my heart was with her. I wanted to hug her, or at least let her know she wasn't alone.

But I knew it wouldn't matter in the end. The loss of a beloved pet - all those years of unconditional love and perhaps especially unconditional, unearned and at times undeserved affection - is overwhelming.

Picture them cantering over the Rainbow Bridge; envision them playing on a cloud with the angels, or see them simply jumping into the welcoming arms of Saint Francis.

None of it can fill the void or fit the pieces of a heart's jigsaw puzzle sprawled on the floor back together.

I turned away, but Oscar kept staring. He wanted to give her little Pomeranian kisses, I know. He's like that.

Clutching my wee pup very closely, I went back into the waiting area, grateful he was so well behaved. He wasn't barking or being crazy like the other dogs. He was quiet and still, though his ears were quite alert.

Finally, the courageous mourner made her way through the waiting room. Deliberately, she carried her deceased pet's cage, tissues still in hand. I'm sure the office door felt as heavy as a vault portal to her. She would join her suffering husband in their car.

The vet assistant rushed into the room to clean it.

"Sorry for the wait, Colleen," said the receptionist. "Our previous appointment ended up being a euthenasia."

"No problem," I replied. "No problem at all."

The results of Oscar's blood work came back today. He has congenital heart failure, but his medications are working just fine, his heart sounds fantastic, his appetite is terrific and his energy is high! Arthritis makes him walk funny, but he doesn't move as if he is in any pain.

Such a good, sweet boy. But he does worry a lot. Every sound, every movement, every unusual vibe from me, my coachees, visitors or the other pets here is a cause for concern. At heart, he's either a Jewish mother or a watchdog.

Oscar's 11.

Poms usually live to an average age of 16. But he's had a lot of challenges from the getgo so he may not make it that long. When I got him after a rough start at 8 months old, he was pretty much a psychological and physical wreck.

The psychological part got worked out with two years of daily attention, socializing and training. The physical part continues to haunt him. Our wonderful veterinarians say he's still got some great years ahead - for which I am very grateful because he's a terrific little companion - and he even has his own fan club!

I decided that when his time does come, however, we're inviting a vet over to the house so he can be home where he belongs. It's very peaceful here; he'll be surrounded by everything and everyone he loves and who love him.

I'll snuggle him tight and kiss him good-night.

He won't have to fret about a thing.


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