2 in the morning and I wake up with a fit of cough. I stagger to the kitchen for a glass of water where I find Ottie pacing up and down. Upon closer inspection, his stomach is emitting gurgling noises loud enough to wake the dead. I let him out which leads to some grass chewing and not much other action.
I already lost a dog to a sudden turning of the stomach in the middle of the night and, since then, I am extremely mindful and worried about the symptoms. It starts with a seemingly innocuous stomach ache, gurgling sounds, the dog pacing because sitting down or lying cause too much discomfort and then a sudden bloating. At that point, it’s too late. An immediate trip to the vet and a simple surgery can do the trick but, if it goes unnoticed, the dog dies rather quickly.
I crouch on the floor, massaging Ottie’s tummy for a good 20 minutes. He is just as hypochondriac as I am and when he is sick he looks at me with those big questioning eyes. “Why do I feel like this?” I am aware of humanizing my dog too much but any dog lover will tell you that it’s impossible to do otherwise (unless you are Cesar Millan).
By the time Ottie finally settles down half an hour later, I feel comfortable enough to go back to bed. Ten minutes into my attempt to fall asleep again I am jolted by a strong smell of crap. Yap, sure enough, there it is. Whatever was bothering him is now on my dining room floor. 3 in the morning and I am mopping shit, wondering why I am doing this, having chosen not to have children because the reward didn’t seem to match the sacrifice – yet here I am, doing it for a dog who has, in the meantime, gone back to his comfy bed. I will be so unhappy in the morning…
When I wake up, dying for a cup of strong African coffee, Ottie is there, elated to see me, expecting to be taken through his morning paper and breakfast routine, ready to start another day filled with canine and equine friends, coyotes to get mad at, birds and lizards to chase. Until I get home from work and the evening routine can take place. And that is why I do it. Because his happiness is contagious and our routines that book-end our days are priceless. I recently shelled out over $1,000 I don’t really have for his dental surgery – still way cheaper than the million bucks a kid would have set me back.