This morning at 5 a.m. I woke to a nightmare. Before I get to that story let me give you a little back story. For those of you who don’t know I have two Rottweilers. Cascius turned eight years old this past June and Gideon just had his eighth birthday on the twelve of this month. If any of you have, or have ever had, a Rottie than you know that they have a tendency to get cancer, as well as other terminal illnesses. The vet tells me Rotties have a 95% chance of getting sick before the age of eight. I know, it blew my mind too.
This is Cascius. I think he has bone cancer in his right front leg. I had two others with bone cancer and he’s exhibiting the same symptoms. To really appreciate his size, here is a picture of Cascius on top of Bob last winter. Bob is nearly six feet tall and weighs about 180 lbs., so it’s not like he’s a little man. I seriously don’t know how Cascius got so big! He’s very active. Give him a ball and he’ll entertain himself for hours.
Originally, Bob and I started with two dogs. A boy and a girl. Then, when we bought our old house we decided we wanted to breed. Big mistake. I do not recommend this. That’s a story for another day.
With breeding in mind, we got another girl, Lexi, then another boy, Levaughn, to mate with Lexi. When they got old enough we mated them because we’d had our first two dogs fixed. Sixty-three days later Lexi gave birth to thirteen puppies. But– because there were so many of them she accidentally stepped on three pups, killing them instantly. Then we had a record temperature drop that weekend and lost five more, so we were down to five puppies left. Yes, it was a more manageable litter but we didn’t want that to happen. Lexi was devastated, and so were we. This is just one in a long line of trials you will experience if you breed.
And here’s another. Lexi’s milk didn’t come in. Not enough to feed her pups, anyway. We even gave her shot. That didn’t work either. So guess who got saddled with staying up round the clock to nurse five puppies? You guessed it. Me. The experience was both rewarding and exhausting rolled into one. We found good homes for three of puppies and kept a boy and a girl. Now we had six dogs. Don’t ask me how or why but as the two youngest aged I yearned for another “baby”. So, we mated Lexi and Levaughn again. Well, we tried. Lexi wasn’t going for it, so we had to artificially inseminate her. Oddly enough, both she and Levaughn enjoyed the experience. However, the vet was forty-five minutes late to our appointment and left us in the parking lot with Levaughn in ninety-five degree heat. We did Lexi separately. Needless to say, Levaughn developed heat stroke. Ooh, I wanted to– (fill in the blank). I told the vet we should get Levaughn right home and come back another time. But the vet wanted to do it then. He was all pissy for having to come in on a Sunday because of Lexi’s cycle. Did I mention he lived next door? Yeah, I didn’t feel the least bit sorry for him, either.
Anyway, when Lexi gave birth on Sept. 12th, 2006, all of her babies were still-born, except one. We named him Gideon after a great warrior. I later found out the still-born puppies occurred because of the heat stroke Levaughn experienced on insemination day. Basically, it was all the vet’s fault. I fired him after that. Two months later and we brought Cascius home to join our family. Now eight was enough!
I had never seen anything so heartbreaking in my life, watching Lexi wash those dead puppies and try to bring them back to life. The memory still brings tears to my eyes. On a happier note, we had little Gideon. And he had a huge blocky head and a tiny-winy body. He looked just like his father. Except we could fit him in one hand. I wish I had a picture to show you. I do somewhere. When I dig it out I’ll post it. For now, here is my little buddy all grown up.
Gideon now has a protein deficiency disease AND diabetes, my poor baby. Usually his meds keep him in check– and there are many he takes daily. Every once in a while he nosedives, like now. It’s difficult to determine which ailment is causing his problems, too. After our last four-hundred-dollar visit to the vet she determined it was his PDD. So now he needs to be on a grain-free diet. Let me tell yeah, that stuff is not cheap. What can you do? He’s family.
My heart breaks for the baby I nursed with a bottle. That little guy who depended on me to survive. That tiny baby that fit in one hand. Now he’s really sick and I feel helpless. Time, is what the vet tells me. It takes time. Thankfully he doesn’t have cancer, and yet, the vet put him on Chemo pills to help with the PDD. Go figure. His body is wasting away right before my very eyes. But he plays and runs and acts like nothing is wrong. Is he hiding his sickness from me so he won’t upset me? Probably, and that only makes me feel worse. I don’t want him to have to be strong on my account.
At five a.m. I woke to a nightmare. When I stumbled down the stairs half-awake I noticed something on the living rug, and thought, Oh no, Gideon got sick. A few steps later and I realized how right I was. My slipper went sliding through so much diarrhea I almost wiped out. Then I tracked it through the kitchen, to the sink. It started on the living rug– a $5,000. rug we found on sale for $650– along the hardwood floor and into the kitchen, all over the ivory tiles. This is the path. It started in the picture above, then continued past where you see Gideon with Bob and then that straight shot to the sink. Nightmare! It took me until six-thirty to clean it all. And I still need to rewash the floors and rug today to make sure there are no lingering traces.
Needless to say, I was livid. However, when I looked into his sad puppy dog eyes I couldn’t yell at him. He’s sick! I wouldn’t berate a patient in a hospital room, either.
I tell you this story not only to share a piece of my life but to use it as a good excuse to bring up writing. When we, as writers, experience heartbreak, sorrow, grief, whatever strong emotion that’s nagging at us, the best thing we can do is channel it into our writing. We don’t have to suffer silently, we have the perfect outlet… writing. Throw yourself into your work, bury your pain in words. Sometimes what happens is you create magic, beautiful prose that gives a visceral response to its reader. When you write from a place of pain, at least for me, there is so much raw emotion that it spills onto the page.
Next time when you’ve had a day like mine, go to your computer or notebook and just write. Empty your mind onto the page. Release the pain and let it flow into your prose. It works. I always feel better once I’ve channeled my emotions into my writing. You don’t need to take my word for it, give it a try. I bet what you create will be breathtakingly beautiful. If it’s not, at least you found a productive way to deal with whatever is ailing you.
Have a great weekend everyone, and God bless.