Just when you think you might be getting things done, making good lists, organizing your life to be more manageable,KABOOM! I don’t know why I am surprised when unexpected events occur. Surely I have learned that a lot of what we do is solve problems, be it an avocation, job or chore. That is one of our functions along with figuring out what to cook today or is that tomato ripe enough to eat. And it isn’t if you have to ask.

Our dear dog, Judy, was looking rotund, well, fat, actually. We had watched her appear heavier and grow bigger around the middle for a few weeks. She isn’t an exercise fan so I urged her to walk more and I fed her less. As she got bigger, I dished out even less. I threatened her with a doggie treadmill. We joked about what a chubette she had become.

I took her to our vet to check her teeth, mentioned the belly looming large and added I was surprised that she weighed just 22.6 lbs. when we checked in. Judy is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and 22 lbs. isn’t fat.

The vet said, looking at her non-existent waist – forget the teeth – I’m concerned about her middle. I almost said, and aren’t we all concerned about our respective middles?

Judy was taken off for x-rays and ultrasound and next we were  referred to the UC Davis Veterinary Hospital. We were there 3 days later for more tests and the surgeon concurred with our vet, that this is a spleen problem. We booked the surgery for Monday and went home in an altered state. I really like an axiom and try to live by it, (try, I said, ) from a dear friend. “DON’T FEED THE FEARS.” But it is hard to feed your darling Judy and not wonder if she will come home from the surgery, if you will fix her supper again – she is now 10 years old and we were warned that her spleen could rupture. We lifted her very carefully. Gently, gently in speech and action was my weekend mantra.

No more suspense here, Judy had a splenectomy and over 4 lbs of fat was removed that was attached to her spleen. Surgery went well, no surprises but her temperature dropped to 94 and that scared us until they called to say she was better, wrapped in warming blankets.

We made the car like a little doggie ambulance for her and brought her home. Instructions about her were firm, wear the comfy collar, don’t let her scratch or do anything to mess up her loooong incision. And no jumping for 10 to 14 days. She was to have pain pills every 8 hours and anti-biotics every 12 hours.

Three days post surgery with three people watching her, she jumped on a low chaise, a couch and a chair. This was done with ease, smiling, as she regained her normal style of living. Her floor beds were cushy, made of flokati rugs, stuffed tigers, a dog bed plus plush covers.We mostly sat on the floor by her. What more could she want?

What she wants is her old routine. We try to stop her jumping on the couch. Then, she walks by and she levitates to the couch, lies down and is asleep within minutes.

We worry because we remember her girth, the fear of cancer, hemorrhage and waiting for the call from the surgeon to say she was okay. And that is a big difference between dogs and humans. We just think too much. Judy isn’t thinking about surgery, pain, being in a cage. No, it isn’t happening now and here is the best – she doesn’t even have to try NOT to think.

During all this my husband struggled with memory loss, impatience and frustration and worry about his Judy. Our grandson did all the driving of Miss Judy. One daughter came from upstate to be a dog nurse and local daughter helped us before and during the surgery and tenderly helped bring Judy home.

As I have said, we think too much, explain so much. And what else do people do when trying to make sense of a brilliant man coping with loss of memory and of an innocent dog needing surgery? But explain and cope we do and will continue to do, after all, this is my/our job. I do work on not thinking so much.

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