Puppy lover … and peptic loser

Last Tuesday dawned bright and early … more or less.

How, you might ask, can it be more or less bright and early? Simple: I woke up early, at the ghastly hour of 0630. But as for bright? It was a morning like all the others in November — scattered patches of scuzzy snow on the ground below, and a low, Sepppuku-grey sky above.

And why was I up at such a grim time, only to be facing an equally-grim landscape? Well, I’ll tell ya, pojo, it wasn’t due to an act of will on my part. Instead, it was due to an act of will on my dog’s.

Jesse, a normally placid hound, was in distress. I could tell by the look on his face and the rumbling in his stomach.

In the 12 years I’ve had him, he’s had Gurgle Gut bunches of times. And when he does, I’ve taken him out, let him eat some grass, water other grass, and by the time he comes back in the house he’s fine.

But this time was different. For one thing, his Gurgle Gut wasn’t just worse than the others — it was The Mother of All Gurgle Guts. It was nonstop and so loud it sounded like he had a washing machine trapped in his kishkes.

I did the only thing I could. I got up, threw on some schmattas, and took him out. He did his usual eating and watering of the grasses, but when he came in he did something he’d never done — he didn’t eat his breakfast. Just gave it a sniff and then went into the living room.

I tried to give him a smattering of wet food. Nothing. Then I offered him his all-time rave-fave — cheese. Still nothing.

Clearly, something wasn’t just wrong; it was very wrong.

Jesse will eat, and has eaten, anything and everything — palatable or not, food or not. The boy will nosh on dog turds with the same gusto he would with a prime filet mignon cooked to perfection.

I did the only thing I could, which was wait till 0800 and call High Peaks Animal Hospital. When I heard the dulcet tones of Meg Holmes, The Sweetheart of the Switchboard, I told her what was going on and that Jesse needed an appointment. She had an opening at 4 p.m., and I jumped on it.

The wait wasn’t long — it was interminable. Here’s the thing: My family is to the anxiety-ridden what the Kardashians are to the callipygian. The big difference is we come by ours without any help from medical science.

If there were competitions and medals for worrying, my sainted mother would’ve been the world’s greatest professional gold medalist. In contrast, my brother is a lightweight — maybe a national AAU silver medalist. I’m in between, an Olympic gold medal winner for sure.

So as you can figure, between 0630 and 1600 I was in FAM (Full Anxiety Mode). Unlike others, in FAM I’m not an emotional eater. In fact, what I do is shut down and stay down. I not only don’t eat, I can’t eat. So, counterproductive as it was, I sat in my chair, immobile, swilling java and listening to The Anvil Chorus blasting out of Jesse’s innards.

All the while, one nightmare scenario after another paraded through my tortured mind. And all of them had the same thing in common: Jesse was doomed and already beyond the reach of both veterinary science and St. Jude. In short, he was a goner.

If anyone knows one thing about me, it’s that I am a proactive guy. Maybe Jesse was beyond hope, but I was not about to be an idle observer of his demise. Uh-uh, not me.

First, because the ground is frozen, I called Bushwhack Jack Drury and told him to start his tractor and dig a hole, maybe four by three by six.

The burial itself taken care of, I planned the burial service. Since Jesse was rescued from rural Tennessee, I figured he was a Christian, so it seemed only natural that Padre Eric Olsen should do the honors.

And before I did any more thinking, it was time to go. I put down my coffee, picked up Jesse’s leash, and we headed out.

The heat is on!

At High Peaks, I checked in with TSotS, sat down with Jesse at my feet, and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

A quick note: Neither Jesse nor I is the least bit impatient about getting to see the vet, though for different reasons. He, like almost all dogs and cats, hates the examinations and leaves the lobby only under extreme duress and leash tugging. I, on the other hand, understand that delays are often inevitable because the vets are helping someone else’s animal. So how can I resent that, when I know they’ll be helping mine next?

Of course, while I didn’t resent my wait, I didn’t feel all that good. I don’t mean I didn’t feel good about the wait; I mean I didn’t feel all that good. Period. After 10 hours of worrying and coffee-drinking, it was my stomach’s turn to go into gurgle mode. In addition to being embarrassing, my gut was starting to hurt.

Finally, we got escorted into the examining room. Jesse was then taken out for a blood test. When he was returned, the vet tech told us Dr. Ackert would be with us to go over the test results and the treatment plan. So there was another wait. And during this one, my GG started to heat up … literally. I was on an acid trip — and not of the psychedelic kind.

Things were OK for a few minutes, then my stomach HCL upped the ante, as my innards went from mildly upset, to very upset, to the worst case of acid reflux I’d had in the last 20 years. I sat there, paralyzed with pain, unable to more or even speak. And it was probably good I was paralyzed, because if I moved, even slightly, I knew all hell was gonna break loose. And if I opened my mouth, I knew I’d either barf on the floor or scorch the paint off the walls.

Finally the good doc came in. She went over the results of the tests, told me Jesse had slightly elevated pancreas enzymes. This causes nausea and was probably why he didn’t want to eat. Then she said she’d give him an anti-nausea shot.

“This’ll get rid of his nausea immediately,” she said. “So by the time you leave he won’t be in distress.”

All the while, I just sat there, salivating, jaws clenched, tongue flicking back and forth, in and out, sweat beading up on my forehead. Since I couldn’t speak, I did the only thing I could, which nodding was nodding jerkily while she spoke. In other words, I looked like a drooling idiot, which for all practical purposes I was. But I didn’t care. At that point, I had one thing, and only one thing, in mind: Getting the hell out of there so I could either puke in the parking lot, or get to town and score some antacid.

Against all odds, I made it through the rest of the visit barf-free, hauled Jesse out to the car, and tore off to town. The speed limit said 45 — I said, ska-roo the speed limit and held to a steady 60. In truth, I almost never speed, if for no other reason than I don’t want to deal with cops when I’m in the wrong. But in this case I didn’t care. Yeah, maybe I’d get a ticket and a fine, but I’d at least have the consolation of dissolving some cop’s boots right before his very eyes.

I made it into town unstopped, shot into the Walgreen’s lot and was out of the car before the tires stopped screeching. I speed-walked stiff-legged across the lot, into the store, and then down the “Sick Gut Aisle.” I spotted Mylanta and I grabbed a bottle. Then — exercising my legendary self-control — instead of swilling it right there, I managed to walk to the cashier, pay for it and split.

I got about three steps outside the store before, in one fluid motion, I snapped off the cap, raised the bottle and chugged at least a quarter of it. Good old Mylanta — tastes horrible, but does what it’s supposed to. In a minute or so, while I was hardly 100%, or even 50%, both my gut and I were chilled out enough to function minimally.

As for Jesse?

When I got back to the car, there he was, sleeping like a babe, his Gut Gurgle gone, replaced by a soft and regular breathing. As Dr. Ackert had said, his nausea was completely gone. So, hooray for both him and the good doctor!

As painful as this experience was, I learned a vital lesson from it.

It is the next time Jesse goes to the vet for his anti-nausea shot, I’ll be next in line for mine.


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