Earlier this week, I happened to be alone in the house for the night. My husband was in Mobile, spending the evening with our daughter and my son had recently moved in with his girlfriend. Normally I love one of these rare times when I don't need to cook or clean or tend to anyone else but myself and our 14 year old lab/boxer dog, Abby. I can eat chex mix out of the bag for dinner, and lounge around in my terry cloth robe, totally relaxed.
All went well until the following morning, when I heard Abby struggling to breathe.
"That can't be the dog making that horrid noise!
But it surely was the dog.
"Abby, what's wrong? Come get a cookie, baby."
Nothing. Abby, who typically starts her day with a boisterous delight in her morning treats, rolled her eyes up at me as if to say, "Help me, mom."
Oh no, thought I. Abby is terribly ill!
I frantically phoned our beloved vet (when you have a dog, a cat and two Australian lizards, you can bond with your vet as if he was your trusted personal Francis of Assisi.) and made an appointment for Dr. Martin to see her, ASAP.
I phoned my husband, phoned the bookstore to tell them I would be a little late for work, and pulled and tugged Abby into the car. This is no easy feat; Abby, at just under 100 lbs, has never captured to art of being on a leash and usually drags me, helter skelter, wherever her nose wants to take her (us..)
When we got to Dr. Martin's office, they immediately led us into her 'big dog' examining room. Abby slinked in, breathing labored, head lowered, looking near death just barely warmed over. I thought, this is it; I'm going to lose my beloved Abby, my favorite child, my baby.
Dr. Martin came in and examined her head to tail.
'She's certainly not herself," he said, after taking her temperature.
"I want to take some x-rays and run some blood work."
Now I'm shaking. Abby rolls her eyes up at me in a pitiful silent plea for help.
The vet assistant leads Abby out the door and down the hallway. I am near tears. After a long wait, they return and Dr. Martin comes in with x rays.
"Well, we found the problem." says he.
"Whats the diagnosis, Doctor?" I am almost afraid to hear the news.
"She has a full stomach."
"Her stomach is so full that its pushing against her lungs."
He inserts he xrays into a lit up screen on the wall and flips off the room's lights. I see my dogs innards and sure enough, where her stomach lies is q huge bulbous balloon, taking up more than half of the xray.
I look at Abby.
"Hog."Tho I am glad the problem is not a big one, I cannot believe I have gone through all of this because my dog is a hog.
Dr. Martin writes out a bill and hands it too me. I can't take my eyes off the sum written across the bottom.
I pay up, drag Abby back into the car and drive off. Abby has her expensive little nose stuck out the window, ears slicked back in the wind.
My cell phone rings.
"How is she?" my worried husband asks.
"Fine. She's fine."
"well, are you going to tell me what's wrong with her?"
"Sure. She has a full stomach."
Silence. Dead silence on the other end of the line.
"It cost $227.86."
"Oh shit." John replies.
Abby feels better now. Apparently her stomach has emptied because she again is exuberant over her morning treats. and all is well.