The Dog is Sick

scamp blog“He’s in a bad way,” says the vet. “Slipped disc. Arthritis.”

He prescribes pain killers and bed rest. He loans me a cage to limit the dog’s movement.

The dog is sick.

I put his bed and blanket into the cage, throw in his favourite cushion.  (He won’t go near the cage.)

The dog is sick.

“We’ll have to keep him quiet,” I tell the kids. “Make sure he doesn’t try to climb the stairs or jump onto the couch.”

The dog is sick.

I buy a dog gate for the stairs; remove all the chairs from the living room.

I sit on the floor with my back against the wall. The dog puts his head on my knee. (“When can we sit on chairs again?” asks my husband.)

The dog is sick.

I reschedule a parent-teacher conference; cancel a lunch date with my friend. My friend is going through a rough time and our lunches mean a lot to her. I cancel anyway.

The dog is sick.

He doesn’t bark. His big Cavalier eyes follow me around the room. When I can’t bear it any more, I carry him into the front room and sit with him in the red chair. When the sun shines, I carry him into the garden.


The dog is sick.

At night, I lift him the proper way and carry him upstairs. I put him on our bed. When he stirs, I wake. When he yelps, I wince.

The dog is sick

I phone the vet and ask him if I’m being cruel.

I make an appointment with a canine acupuncturist. I get directions to the hydrotherapy pool. I buy glucosamine supplements.

The dog is sick.

The dog is sick.

In the morning, I wrap his tablet in a piece of fresh ham, place it on his tongue. He’ll be on medication for the rest of his life.

The dog is sick

He belongs to my fourteen-year-old daughter.

And she loves him.


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15 thoughts on “The Dog is Sick

  1. Oh!

    (For the avoidance of doubt, just in case you are a particularly suspicious soul, this is an appreciative comment.)

    1. Hi Clare,

      Good news! The dog is on the mend. I wrote this a little while ago when he was sick. He’s pain-free now, but older and slower. (Aren’t we all?) I wanted to explore the lengths we go to in order to protect the things we love — both two-legged and four-legged. Rationality goes out the window!

  2. Oh Aileen – that sounds heartbreaking. I’m so sorry and I hope that he rallies soon. All best wishes for you and for your family, especially for your daughter.

  3. Just read your reply to Clare’s message – really glad to hear that he’s feeling better. As you say – we’re all older and slower!

    1. Lol. Maybe I should have prefaced this with an update. I guess I’m still getting the hang of blogging. The dog is currently eating his dinner. He’s on the mend. I, however, am still trying to figure out why I posted this without explaining that it’s an exploration of my own conflicted feelings about the time and resources we lavish on pets in a world where so many people are in need. And our motivations for doing so. (What! You didn’t get all that?):)

      1. I did get that – it felt as if you were very much aware that you were speaking about a dog, not a human and slightly bemused by what you were drawn to do for the dog, but your last line about your 14 year old daughter brought it straight back to the human and to all the enormous pain of imagining your child suffer. That’s what I understood.

        it’s hard though isn’t it – the piece had more power because it was placed in the present. If you’d prefaced it with an explanation or an update it would lose all immediacy.
        I suppose you could put an update after the piece, to forestall any more horrified sympathy from your readers 🙂

      2. Yes. Present tense has more immediacy. But I should have been more careful. I saw the blog as an opportunity to post ‘writing’, rather than to think out loud. I rarely share work I haven’t had time to edit or reflect upon — hence the time delay between the event and the post. Guess I need to adopt a different way of working here (or use an epilogue). 🙂

  4. So sorry that the dog is sick. He’s beautiful. I hope his pain can be managed 1,000 percent. I have a 12 year-old lab, and I know how these guys can give so much love.

    1. Hi Rachel, dog is feeling better thanks. Hard to see anything suffer, and yet hard to justify the extraordinary resources we pour into our pets. Not sure what the answer is. Just know that common sense went out the window when this particular dog got sick!:)

  5. Felt really sad until I read he was on the mend! :o) Pets really do become part of the family. And yes, having been in the vets with a cat injured in a car accident, I wholly agree – rationality does go out of the window!

  6. I actually don’t find it hard at all to justify the extraordinary efforts and resources. Animals, generally, are far more pure of heart and deserving than a sadly disproportionate number of people. I lost a beloved cat a bit over a year ago, and she had been my companion for over seventeen years. She brought me comfort in times when no human could, and her main interest in life was simply to love and be loved. No need to justify the lengths I went to ensuring her last months were warm and comfortable. I cried when I read this post. Best, Karen 🙂

    1. Ah Karen, they certainly worm their way into our hearts. And you’re right, of course. They bring such comfort.

  7. Poignant story, well done, so I am all the happier to see (in your subsequent comments) that he is on the mend, albeit also on medication. Incidentally, thank you for following my blog.

    1. My pleasure to follow your blog, Penny. It’s food for the soul. Have you read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry? It’s a wonderfully funny, poignant story of a man who starts to walk one day and doesn’t stop.

      1. Oh thank you for taking time to respond, and tell me about this book. I’ll look for it. (Now go scratch your dog behind his ears for me…)

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