Rural Living

The Recovery Act

A Long Road to a Short Walk


by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

If you love your pets, you know they are as much a part of the family as, say, Aunt Blanche. A wise man once opined that dogs are better companions than most people. I agree. If I were marooned on a deserted island, I’d want little Brownie by my side.

I wrote recently about how sick Brownie was. It got to the point where I was urged to “put her down.” As I wept uncontrollably on her shoulder, my sweet sister uttered this truism: “Brownie is too good a dog to suffer.”

Brownie hadn’t eaten for days.

Her spleen was enlarged, which often means cancer. Her red-blood-cell count was alarmingly low. My sister was probably right.

I called Brownie’s godmother, and her “Daddy” to go with me to say a tragic goodbye. I got a kindly neighbor to come up and dig a spot for her in the frozen ground. I was still not recovered from my own major health issues. I was crying myself sick. It was one of the worst days of my life.

I collected Brownie’s blankie and a stuffed pink flamingo she loves. I called Brownie’s friend and vet, Dr. Ellen. I told her we would be there at 4:45. I wanted to hold Brownie and sing her special little song as she drifted away.

“Well,” Dr. Ellen said. “Right now ‘Auntie Anne’ (another of Brownie’s best friends) is hand-feeding her some chicken I made.”

“She’s eating?” I said, starting to feel a little giddy.

That giddiness grew and grew. I knew for darn sure I was not going to put down my dearest little darling if she was finally eating.

A week or so later, Brownie was well enough to come home. I wanted — needed — her with me. We would take things day by day.

And, day by day, we each got better and better. It wasn’t too long before we were able to walk down the driveway and pick up our mail. This was a red-letter occurrence; we once walked down the driveway two or three times a day; we hadn’t been able to do that for months.

Soon, her fluffy tail with the white tip began wagging as wildly as ever. She was eating, thanks to the Prednisone pills mixed in with her food. Brownie’s food looked good enough to sample — chicken or beef, mixed with peas, rice, carrots and gravy.

Have you ever had a dog on Prednisone? It turns them into chow hounds. Brownie gulped down her food, then begged for more. I gave it to her. She still wasn’t satisfied. She became a sneaky pantry thief.

One night, I heard a rumpus in the kitchen and found this: She had dragged a bag of potatoes from the pantry, ripped it open, and was lying on the floor, wagging her tail, eating a raw potato. One morning while making the bed, I saw something odd under there. Now, that has always been Brownie’s hidey-hole. I examined the oddity, and discovered it was a little plastic cup of applesauce. She had torn through the top, and licked out all the sweet stuff. It got so I couldn’t eat anything unless I’d put a snack in Brownie’s dish. Her favorite bowl, the one proclaiming “Life Is Good,” disappeared one night in January. I still have not located it.

But, she is eating!

I was thrilled a few weeks ago to see her actually run. Then, she rediscovered the pure bliss of rolling in the grass, groaning with delight. Now, she is smiling again. Brownie has a lovely smile. You can’t help but feel joy when you see it.

Here’s another old, bad habit she has recently renewed: Eating dirt. What is it with dogs eating dirt? I have to watch her closely when she goes out at night because, sure enough, she will be over at her dirt hole, snarfing up the stuff.

And, despite a lavender dish filled with fresh, clear water, she really prefers drinking from mud puddles in the driveway.

Sometimes, she will trot into the living room licking her chops as if finishing every morsel of something tasty. Trouble is, I know her dish is empty.

Many of you have sent cards to Brownie. Some have even included photos of your own little darlings, and anecdotes of their antics. She thanks you.

As for the hole in the garden, I plan to plant something wonderful and flowery there.


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