If our poodle, Oliver, was a human child, he’d be the one with the big bottle glasses, standing in the lunch line listing off his allergies to the exhausted lunch ladies.
He’s adorable. But, his hair is tangled even though we brush it and take him to the groomer, he kind of smells like pee because can’t aim worth shit, and he’s always sick.
Oliver eats grain free food because he’s allergic to rice. He can’t have most treats unless they’re basically 100% unicorn meat and if he eats something he’s not supposed to, he shits his brains out for days.
This week, I made F, my husband, some homemade chicken noodle soup because he had a fever (he’s also always sick). It was delicious even though I cooked it because I’m getting better at stuff with age. And since it was delicious, I tried to shove all of it in my mouth at once while watching Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce. While eating like a goblin, I dropped a single noodle on the floor. And, in slow motion, I watched Hoover puppy eat it before I could grab it.
The next day, F and I came home from work to find him slouched over, trembling on the couch, his eyes barely open and glossed over. I tried to touch him and he growled and shot me some mean side eye.
F shook his head, “he’s just being dramatic.”
If I heard someone else say that about their violently shaking dog, I would assume that they were negligent assholes. But this isn’t a normal dog, this is Oliver. If he gets a leaf stuck to his foot, he’ll limp for a block even after we removed the leaf. And anytime he gets a belly ache, which is at least three times per year (it was more before we figured out his food sensitivities), he acts like he’s in total organ failure. For years, I panicked every time he limped or whined and rushed him to the vet every month, sometimes more than once. Slowly, we’ve learned to take his extreme sensitivity to all discomfort with a grain of salt.
So, I didn’t panic. I calmly picked up the phone and called the vet.
The vet asked, “Can you describe how he’s acting?”
“Like he’s dying, basically. He’s growling and shaking and won’t let us touch him.”
“Oh, no. That does sound like he needs to come in.”
“I mean, I want to bring him in but I’m sure he’s fine.”
The vet cleared her throat, “Uhm, okay. So you do want to bring him in?”
“It’s just like, you know, what if this is that one time that I don’t take it seriously and it is something really serious for once? So, I want to bring him in. And clearly he’s not feeling good and I don’t want him to be sick. But, our dog is a huge wuss. So, most likely he has a belly ache.” I said.
The vet said, “Of course. Bring him down now.”
I grabbed his leash and put him in the car. He laid down and stayed like that all the way there. Then, once we got to the vet he jumped up and was instantly normal. He wagged his tail, wanted to greet everyone, and suddenly wanted to be picked up. Which, made me feel like one of those crazy moms with Munchausen syndrome.
The vet came in, took his temperature (normal), pushed on his tummy (a little sensitive), and took him into the back to give him a shot to alleviate his tummy ache. I knew the exact moment that they gave him the shot because he screamed for a solid minute, so loud that it echoed throughout the entire clinic.
Hearing your pet cry, or kid, or partner, is painful and a part of me wanted to kick open the back door and kick everyone. But logically, I knew that they were just trying to help him. The vet came running into my room out of breath and red-faced like she’s sprinted all the way to the door to explain why my dog was howling, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” she gasped, “I promise, we only gave him the shot. I mean, it stings a little but…”
I nodded, “I know.” Oliver came running into the room with the vet tech and hid behind my legs. I picked him up, “did that mean lady hurt you?” and kissed his head. He looked at me like, “yeah, fuck her.” The vet shot me a look.
“The medicine will get rid of any nausea or any tummy pain that he might have.” Said the vet, “I took a fecal sample and it does look like he has more bad bacteria than normal so it looks like he ate something he wasn’t supposed to eat. He seems very sensitive to pain.”
Read: The goddamn noodle. He was practically dying over a noodle. Or tampon. He’d also eaten a tampon that week. Dogs are so Gross.
The vet gave him probiotics and antibiotics to rebalance his bacteria and sent us home. We walked in the door and the meds must have already kicked in because he ran over to his food and gobbled up the entire bowl in 3.2 seconds. Then he grabbed a stuffed squirrel and took off running around the couch.
F picked Oliver up, “a tummy ache?”
I shrugged, “Yep.”
Later that night, around 3 a.m., Oliver woke me up to go potty. I let him outside, he went to the bathroom then came running back inside. He tore through the house and jumped on our bed. Then he sat down, rolled around, and sat down again. It was dark. I was tired. I closed the door and climbed into bed. I put my hand on something wet. I grabbed my phone and turned on the flashlight. Brown smears all over our white comforter. My husband was fast asleep.
“Babe, BABE, get up. Oliver shit the bed.” He sat straight up and stared at me, baffled.
“Oliver got poop all over the bed. We have to change the sheets.” He slowly nodded and crawled out of bed. We silently changed the sheets and I took Oliver to the bathroom to wash Oliver’s ass (when I was younger, I never thought that I’d grow up to spend a ton of time washing dog butt). I disinfected my hands, cleaned the bathroom, and settled back into bed at 4 a.m.
Oliver padded up to space between me and F, turned, and flopped down in between us. He snored like nothing had ever been wrong and all was right in the world.