I awoke to the singing of the warblers and the wail of sirens instead of the roaring of the ocean and the cry of seagulls this morning. Both beautiful (well, maybe not the sirens), but such very different worlds. I went on an early morning walk, no longer on the pristine walking path of 30-A, but back again on the cracked and uneven sidewalks of my beloved Southside neighborhood. No more of the salty air, instead I was met with the heavy blanketing humidity of an approaching hot Alabama summer. Home.
Re-entry from our brief vacation has been bumpy. We came home to a dog who was much sicker than we’d thought. I feel foolish, as even though our wonderful neighbor sent videos and careful descriptions of Coops’ progress and called the vet (who was closing and suggested the emergency clinic), we assured her that Coops had done this before, eaten something awful outside that turned her usually voracious appetite to dust for a day or two. Except…this time is different.
We took the dogs to our long-time vet as soon as they could fit her in, Sophie coming along for moral support and a nail trim. Dr. Claytor has cared for all of my dogs since I moved to Birmingham in 2002, and has cared for Cooper since I found her as a tiny five-week-old puppy in the alley nine years ago. She is incredibly kind and compassionate, having gone far above and beyond the call of duty in the past to save our Doberman Bailey after his stroke, and I will never forget looking up from the very floor in the pictures above where she had euthanized that same sweet gentle beast, to see tears streaming down her face. She truly cares. She is of the age to retire, but thankfully says that she doesn’t feel ready yet…all of this as she cares for her ninety-seven year-old mother, too. Dan and I adore her, and made sure that Coops would get to see her and not one of the other vets. They are great, but we needed the comfort and assurance of seeing Dr. Claytor.
The news was not good- pancreatitis, which can quickly become deadly. I felt shock wash over me as she began to describe the aggressive treatment to save our dog- this first dog that wasn’t just my dog, but Dan’s, too. Our Coops. She gave her fluids, medicine to calm her system, something else that my worry-rattled brain can’t recall, and described the special very low-fat diet she would start when she (hopefully) began eating again. Coops is so weak after four days of really only water, she could barely stand yesterday. Dan carried all fifty-five pounds of her up the stairs so that she could sleep with us last night, sweet man. We’ll take her back this evening to repeat the treatment, and again tomorrow. I hope and pray it will work. So close on the heals of losing our cat Kasey and our dear friend John, I don’t know if my heart can take another blow right now. Life will happen, though. We’ll do our very best for her. I have to admit that I prayed to my mother to protect her this morning. Mom loved Cooper from the moment she met her, and I have to think she has some special influence with The Man Upstairs.
Along with the worry and sadness over Cooper, our home welcomed us with gifts of color and beauty, too. I found that several of my flowers had bloomed riotously while we were away, bringing a smile to my face. I went to the top deck to take in the view, a ritual of mine when we return from a trip, a reconnection with my home. The sky was filled with dense clouds, harbingers of the rain that would later come. Just as at the beach, no matter the weather, the view from our home is beautiful to me, an ever-changing canvas that never fails to bring me peace.
I thought of the irony- yesterday I was at the beach, relaxing, hardly a care in the world. Things can change so quickly, without warning. That is life, every heart wrenching, gloriously beautiful, achingly sad bit of it. We have to flow with it, do the best we can to remain positive and calm. We can’t control the events, but we can work to control how we respond to them. I am trying to respond with an open mind, optimism, and a loving heart- no matter what happens. Easier said than done, I realize, but really the only way to come through crisis of any kind without letting it break you…and while I may bend, I will not break.