Friday, April 27, 2007

The Joys of Dog-Sitting

I was rudely awakened by a pointy-elbowed jab to the ribs at about 4:30 yesterday morning. "Honey? Honey!"

Don't you "Honey" me...I was in the middle of a deep satisfying sleep, and I'm pretty sure I was having a good dream to boot. Was I snoring too loud? Humping her leg in my sleep? Humping HER in my sleep? "What?" I growled.

"Would you go tell Rex to be quiet? He's been barking and crying for the past hour."

I love being a sound sleeper, and, no, it isn't just an act to avoid middle-of-the-night parental duties. I've blissfully slept through dozens of nightmares and peed and barfed beds, although I was usually awakened for peed/barf bed duty. I'll get up in the morning with absolutely no idea that Diane spent the night in one of the girls room because they were freaked out. Oops...hee, hee, hee. I hadn't heard Rex at all that morning. "Why can't YOU go tell him to be quiet?" I groused.

"Because he doesn't listen to me."

I know this defense well. It's the same reason I refuse to learn how to braid the girls' hair: if I learn how to do it, then I'll have to do it EVERY DAY. And I simply don't have that kind of time. This way, whenever the girls ask me to braid their hair like Mommy does, I reply as sweetly as possible, "I'm sorry, Sweetie, I'm just not as good at braiding as Mommy is." I guess what goes around comes around.

I pulled myself out of bed and stumbled to the laundry room where we had Rex penned. We've been dog-sitting for my in-laws the past few days, so far without incident. But this barking-in-the-middle-of-the-night nonsense needed to stop, and I was ready to play the role of alpha male to put the kibosh on it. I rounded the corner where I met Rex's sad, defeated eyes waiting for me at the gate, and discovered what was agitating him: three large piles of puke. Fan-TAS-tic! Being the amazing husband I am, I did not rouse Diane for barf duty, and began the cleanup process. Being the more amazing wife that she is, Diane got up anyway and offered moral support. She doesn't handle barf duty too well. I don't either for that matter, but sometimes you just do whatcha gotta do. I took Rex outside, cleaned up the mess, returned him to his room, and went back to bed.

I woke up again at 6:30 to get Kailey ready for school and found a couple of bile-puddles on the floor in Rex's room. Houston, we have a problem. All morning long, Rex just lazed around, completely lethargic and not at all interested in food, water or play. And when I let him outside to do his business, he'd pick a spot in the yard and strike a pose where his body became tense and rigid, convulsing to produce a half-dollar sized puddle of sludge. As I watched him struggle through his bowel movements, I thought, been there, done that. Buddy, I can FEEL your pain.

I called my in-laws to inform them of the situation as well as to get the number of their vet. Golden Retriever pups are notorious for eating crap they shouldn't, then having near death experiences. And Rex has already gone through this process once. I called the vet and they told me to bring him in, along with a "fresh stool sample". Come again? "A fresh stool sample; the fresher, the better." And how do you suggest...oh, never mind.

So thirty minutes before our appointment, armed with a gallon-sized ziplock freezer bag, I followed Rex into the backyard and waited for him to go through his spastic fece-squeeze routine. I started out with a sandwich baggie, which would easily have handled the volume of Rex's BM. But then I had second thoughts. What if I misjudged the trajectory of the discharge? I envisioned the neighbors calling 911 as they watched me run screaming across my backyard, wildly flailing at my hands while being chased by an 80 pound dog. Gallon-sized...that's the way to go. Rex sniffed around the lawn for a minute, found an acceptable spot, circled and assumed the position. I snuck up behind him and, gulp, slid the bag underneath him. I must have been too aggressive though, and he felt the bag. He twirled around with a "What-the-Hell-are-YOU-doing?" expression on his face. Seriously. "Sorry buddy," was all I could muster.

Rex, looking completely annoyed, moved over to the rocks and, again, squatted. I followed, this time being careful NOT to brush his ass with my oversized bag. That sounded really bad and should probably be rephrased. Anyway, he let loose and I collected every last disgusting, gloopy drop. Then I sealed the bag and ran inside to freak out the girls.

We arrived at the animal clinic where I handed the receptionist what I determined to be the most disgusting fecal sample ever collected. She grabbed the bag without comment or hesitation, albeit by the side rather than the top. She apparently had seen worse. The vet ran a bunch of tests, all of which were negative, and poked and prodded poor Rex. He could find no obstruction in his bowels, but couldn't rule out a bowel obstruction with any certainty without x-rays. He suggested two possible courses of action: an aggressive one which included the x-rays and intravenous fluids, or a conservative approach which included some medication, fluids and a mild diet. Ummm...conservative please. If we need to, we'll cross the aggressive bridge when we get to it.

I'm happy to report that the conservative approach seemed to work. This morning Rex was back to his nosey, playful self. And I'm even happier that he didn't die on my watch. In five days, I'll be even happier still, when Rex goes home. Grammy & Papa, I'm thankful that you let us stay in your home for two weeks while our water situation was being worked out, but now we are even!

On second thought, you never had to chase any of us around with a baggie, waiting for us to take a dump, so I think we may be due some weekend childcare.

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