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Dry Martini: Not About a Holiday Run

The column I’d planned for today — yes, I do plan these (sort of (a little)) — was going to be all about running in Montreal in the winter, when my beloved Lachine tow path is an ice sheet. Life, however, did what it does sometimes.

Lucy's the one in the front. Lobo, the big white one, seemed to pick up that she was feeling poorly.

Ten days ago, our almost 7-year old corgi seemed a little off. A few days later, despite the meds our vet put her on, our Lucy lost control of her back limbs and had to pull herself around by her front legs like a seal. She was also clearly in pain. We gathered her up, went to our local vet, who sent us 2-ish hours away to the Cornell Vet School. Because it’s better to send your injured pet to an Ivy rather than a state college — and because that was one of the few places in a 200-mile radius of Oneonta that was able to do a dog MRI after hours on a Monday.

Two things you should know now, just so that you don’t have to live with a grinding sense of dread:

  1. Lucy is alive.
  2. While we are happy #1 is true, the next six weeks might be the death of us all.

Lucy isn’t my first pet. I know the reality of dog and cat lifespans. It’s one of the deals you make. Unless I wind up the proud (and perplexed) owner of a tortoise or macaw, I will face that awful day when it’s kinder to end my beloved companion’s suffering. It is the last act of mercy we give them.

This wasn’t that day.

That weird blob in the middle of the image is not what you want to see in an MRI, canine or human.

Imaging showed Lucy had slipped and/or ruptured one of the discs in her spine, which is a hazard for dogs with long backs and stumpy legs. The disc material was pushing on her spinal cord and, at this point, only surgery would stop the pain. The odds of her regaining control of her bladder and bowels, to say nothing of walking, were about 50/50.

Oh, and it would be several thousand dollars to even get us that outcome.

Lucy’s front half was in perfect working order and was remarkably chipper, even with the pain — and, frankly, that made all of the difference. While we can’t throw thousands of dollars at anything quickly, we are fortunate enough to be able to make it work. We will be uncomfortable, mind, but not bankrupt. We can also now claim that one family member went to Cornell, even if we can no longer afford to send any other family members there.

Long story short (too late, I know), Lucy’s home again, not in agony, and recovering. Her bowels and bladder are operating voluntarily (hurray!) and her back limbs are sort of working. She still might wind up one of those corgis on a wheelie cart, which isn’t the worst thing to have ever happened. If that is the outcome, we will put flame decals and glitter all over it. The other corgis will be jealous of her sweet ride.

The running around will have to wait. Until the end of January, she is on crate rest, which means she can go on short walks to pee but has to spend most of her time locked up so that her back can heal. She is already against the confinement. I can only imagine how much barking and general grousing will fill our new year. When she gets on my last nerve, I’ll need you all to remind me how glad I am that she’s still with us.

My legs still work so I ran what I was scheduled to run, which included 8 x 400 at the track in the snow.

Which brings me back to Montreal. We’d planned to spend Christmas week with friends of ours up in Canada. It’s a quick drive and a pleasant change of scenery. Yes, it’s cold — but we were going to be cold anyway. I’d rather freeze surrounded by poutine and Tim Horton’s.

With Lucy’s confinement, the plan had to change because there’s just too much to ask a dog-sitter to do. I took one for the team. On Christmas Day, we had our traditional waffle breakfast and did the gift thing, then my husband and the kids took off for the Great White North. I teared up briefly when they left.

Hang on to that image for just one second.

A couple of days ago, I finished up my long run on our high school track. There was woman there in her late 20s, walking fierce laps while being trailed by two pre-school kids. We made eye contact as she was gathering the kids (who were resisting being gathered) so that they could leave. She sighed and said, “We’re only five hours into winter break and already … “

She trailed off because her daughter was trying to climb her while her son dragged his coat through a puddle by the bleachers.

“Been there,” I said. “Dig deep. You got this.”

While I’ll miss spending this holiday week with my most favorite humans, I won’t miss the bickering and the grousing. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to the only one I need to feed/amuse/drive around/clean up after is me. I can exhale after the last week of worry. This unscheduled and unstructured time one of the best Christmas gifts I could have received.

That’s not to say I’m happy about how I wound up with this little staycation. I’d much rather have a dog who is healthy. But when life hands you a wheelie cart, bedazzle the crap out of it.

What has been your most unexpected gift, running or otherwise?

17 responses to “Dry Martini: Not About a Holiday Run

  1. I am Andrea’s Mom one thing that is giving us peace while our pup recovers is that we went to wonderful store called kid to kid where we bought a pack and play lightly used. What a great idea my little cocker poo has a safe comfy place to be if l need a shower and my fabulous husband is not home. Imagine we are 77 and 78 and we have a pack and Play in our family room. The kennel for nights is in our bedroom. The most important life saving gift is our wonderful dog sitter who went once to visit Buddy at the emergency center and went with us when we were bringing him home so she could get directions from his surgeon. Life without her would be impossible. My sweet husband took a leave of absence from ski patrol to help take care of our little guy . The big trial will be after recovery…no climbing on furniture and that includes the family bed. Our Benji poodle mix is getting extra attention but acts like this is not true .Buddy can go out to our dog pen wrapped up and carried. I n the last time we went out he walked not his same walk but getting better. One funny comment I did not know what to expect so he was in diapers for about 4 or 5 days. He never wet the diapers finally I figured it out. He did not know what a diaper was so off they came. Out we went and he predicted a river. You live and learn. We have had rescued dogs for 54 years except for 2 labs and a 1 little dog. My heart goes out to all dog lovers and their owners We have a special bond.

  2. Wishing Lucy a full recovery!
    The at home part of our Christmas was very quiet this year. Our beloved dog died in Aug, just a few months shy of her 16th birthday. Our son, for the first time, was not home for Christmas. He is currently in the Atlantic, off the shores of SC, on a commercial fishing boat, earning money to return to college for a new career.
    Our extended family gathering was as loud and crazy as ever. The unexpected gift was a call from our son, using the ship’s phone (they are too far out for cell phones to work). It was so nice to hear his voice.

  3. We went through the same thing two years ago with our mini dachshund. He recovered fully, although his jumping and going up and down stairs days are over. Hope your fur baby (and bank account) make a complete recovery.

  4. I am happy Lucy is recovering. We have 4 senior dogs. Our 13 year old has many health challenges but is still happy despite it all. I know how you feel. I am glad you got that run in.

  5. Been following #dailycorgi’s story and so glad she is doing better. We lost my sweet dog just yesterday during a minor surgery to remove a benign tumor…he just didn’t wake up from the anesthesia. The totally unexpected loss hit incredibly hard. You don’t realize how entwined with your life a dog has become until they are no longer part of it. I’m so sorry your Christmas plans had to change to accommodate her, but it makes my heart happy to know there are other dog owners who bend their lives around their beloved furry family members as much as we did ours. Sending lots of healing prayers to your pup, and prayers for patience for you as she recovers! ❤️

  6. Hi- friend of Dimity here in Denver- so my parents are I think 3 weeks into the exact situation. They are still working with the sling and are very thankful for pet insurance. I wish your pup fast healing. They have canceled their life for 3 months to be with their mutt.

  7. Been to cornell not once …but twice with the same dog. It is costly but their care is amazing. Best wishes to your pup (says the woman who thought she was sending her second dog to cornell last week and managed to avoid it narrowly)

  8. Holy cow, can we permanently replace “when life gives you lemons” to the “when life gives you a wheelie cart” version? We should all have the wisdom to approach life and its challenges with a bedazzled spirit!

  9. My memory has gotten so bad that most all of the gifts were unexpected — even the ones that I asked for and sometimes even placed the order for on behalf of the gift-giver. The upside to a poor memory!? So glad Lucy is healing.

  10. I think learning about poutine may be my most unexpected gift. Wow.
    Thanks, as always, for the great story, with its various happy endings.

  11. I hope Lucy continues to recover. And glad you were able to find a silver lining in the middle of the current situation. Xo

  12. well, you may or may not know that we went through cancer with Dolly earlier this year. her last chemo was in October. pretty much everything you wrote rings so true with me (((big hugs to you!))). and, having her still with us was definitely the BEST gift! thinking of the possibility of her not being with us was completely unexpected and obviously not a gift we wanted. I guess the gift would be how accommodating my boss was throughout it all. I was very new to the job, but she trusted me to get the work done regardless of what weird schedule I might have to work in order to take Dolly in for her two surgeries, chemo, follow up appointments, and the 24/7 supervision following chemo. it really made the whole situation easier to navigate and I am sure lessened the stress.

    p.s. make sure that wheelie cart has a BAMR sticker on it!

  13. We had a corgi whose back went out after years of flingiing herself around like an otter – hauled her around for years with a dog sling….even on walks – she lived like that for quite a while…..sadly, corgis are prone to back issues ….best of luck!

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