MANY’S the time when Derek and I have talked about writing a series of ‘tails’ (intentionally misspelled) about our dog, Sam. Those who’ve met our 8 year old dachshund agree that he’s an extraordinary fellow, who is generally agreeable and always entertaining.
He is not, however, good at being sick. In fact, he’s a bit of a baby, and I’ve got the bags beneath my eyes to prove it.
Last Thursday, as I sat writing in an oversized chair in our front living room, Sam attempted to join me by leaping onto the chair’s matching ottoman. Now, he’d accomplished this maneuver dozens, if not hundreds of times over the 2 years since we adopted him, so I thought nothing of it. I could just make out the end of his muzzle as he bounced into view over the top of the ottoman’s nubby covering. I fully expected to find him nuzzling into position next to me on the chair, but instead his head disappeared, and I heard a distinctively unsettling yelp; Sam had landed badly, twisting his knee into positions not intended by our wonderful Creator.
Assuming that he’d strained a muscle, I applied ice and put Sam into his ‘den’ (a collapsible crate we keep in our family room) to rest. The next day, he appeared much improved, and by Saturday, Sam’s old swagger had returned as he joined Derek for a short walk. Much to our surprise and utter dismay, Sam’s beleaguered anterior cruciform ligament could not stand further strain (the fibers of the ligament had torn during the ottoman episode), and Sam’s short stroll turned into a decided misadventure. He returned from the walk limping, and by the next Morning, Sam could not bear any weight on the knee.
Ice, baby aspirin and much prayer later, I took Sam to our wonderful, mountain man style vet (he wears a long beard and equally long hair–he’d fit right in with ZZ Top), and Dr. Epler quickly diagnosed the problem as an ACL tear. Crate rest and meds were prescribed, and Sam is not allowed to navigate any stairs (or ottomans!) for at least 4 weeks while his ligament rebuilds itself. If we do not follow the instructions, Sam may require surgery (always a risk in a small dog), so he’s being carried everywhere like a prince. Though he adores being ‘babied’, I know he’d prefer to have his old, reliable knee back.
As with any ‘child’, round the clock attention is required, so uninterrupted sleep soon becomes a thing of the past. Last night, he woke at 2:22 (I looked at the clock at noted the numeric irony), whining and wimpering as his pain meds wore off. I spent an uneasy night on our futon in the family room so not to disturb Derek or my sister Debbie upstairs.
My own body is straining from carrying a 22 pound dog from here to there, dozens of times each day. Can I endure four weeks more of this? Let’s just say that September will be a very long month here in Gilbert House–but Sam’s worth it. And perhaps, if we ever get around to writing those Sam ‘tails’, we’ll include one about his unparalleled bravery in the face of daunting and endless pain. Sam the Brave.