Our irreplaceable companion

My desk sits at the beginning of a long hallway that ends at the doorway to Dane’s room and then curves to the left a few feet to the entrance of a large storage room. When Dane returned from DC a few weeks ago I noticed that the small alcove to the side of his doorway was filled with sundry items—books, clothes, weights—he was still unpacking and returning to his closet, and wanted so very much to practice what it might be like for Leta to return home from a semester of college:

“The clothes in that corner owe me $10 a day in rent. $20 on the weekend, and if you even think about touching my salsa again I will take your bike and burn it in the fireplace.”

Please, don’t touch my fucking salsa. Seriously. Dent the front of my car or steal my favorite t-shirt or misplace my iPhone charger (LOOKING DIRECTLY AT YOU, TYRANT), and I will somehow work through those atrocities. But my salsa? There’s a certain episode of “Game of Thrones” where one guy takes the skull of this other guy and he crushes it to pieces in his hands and if you eat all my salsa I will plan exactly how to do the exact same thing with your entire My Little Pony collection. HAND TO GOD.

I’m a mom and that is important to this story because our intuition requires that we store extraneous data in our think holes in case that intuition ever needs to call upon that information for future decision making. It’s not something we have control over. It just happens, and unfortunately Leta will never be able to hide something important from me in her room because my intuition will have Jason Bourne-ed it three days before she tries.

(This has actually already happened, and when I busted her before she attempted it, she asked me how I could possibly know. I told her, “Because I’m a witch.”)

I was working on my computer when Chuck did his normal “I will walk down this hallway and sulk next to Dane’s room because life in this developed country, in this air-conditioned house where I am routinely fed and walked and cared for is extremely unfair” routine, something I caught in my periphery. I noticed only out of the side of my vision that he disappeared around the corner into that alcove. A few seconds later I heard a huge THUD. My first thought was, oh. He has knocked over something huge, something Dane hasn’t yet put back in his closet (see: extraneous data). Something very large-sized. Like a two-story building. Or a zeppelin.

Not even seconds later he backed up into view, his butt leading the way and he was jerking the entire time. Suddenly his body lurched against Dane’s door so hard that it sounded like he might have punctured it. The hallway was dim as the light was off, so I stood up to try to figure out what was going on. Dane appeared immediately in his doorway and snapped on the light.

“Chuck? Are you knocking at my door?” he asked playfully.

Here is where I will admit to being a total jerk: I thought, great. He has knocked something over in the dark and injured himself in the process. Jesus. Why does he have to go sulk in that dark alcove? He can sulk in the comfort of his own dog bed without injuring himself. Here, let me roll around in the dog bed with a frown on my face to demonstrate: it’s a little awkward as only my torso fits inside but… god… here’s a giant frown and look at my hair getting all tangled, but watch! I’m sad and here’s a whole blog post dedicated to how hard it is to be a white woman in America. All while written on the floor. Writhing. This is how you do it, dog.

I was contemplating what he might have knocked over when the light in the hallway began to illuminate one of the scariest things I have ever witnessed that dog do in his lifetime. I didn’t know if he had dislocated his font left leg as both of his back legs could barely remain standing. This sent him in a whirlwind of circles to his right side, his back legs trying to get footing but failing the entire time. He circled and circled, his body and head hitting the walls and slamming into doors along the hallway several times. Both Dane and I called his name over and over again, both of us on opposite sides of him. 

He never acknowledged either of us and seemed to be totally disoriented. He almost fell over a few times, his wobbly legs catching him each time, his front right leg bent at an awkward angle. The shape and bend of his body, the spasmodic way he turned and turned, it will all be an image that will now send my mind reeling at the slightest noise. Because he is 12 years old, and when he wouldn’t acknowledge us, as I watched him lose control of his limbs, all I could think was, “This is it.”

It is inevitable, the worst, I knew this when I adopted him 12 years ago on that April afternoon in Pasadena, California. And during the 25 seconds of that episode yesterday I thought the worst was happening right in front of me. I thought I was witnessing it, and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. It was horrifying to watch.

The spasms finally stopped and he sat on his back legs as if he had been commanded to do so. I knelt down to inspect his face, to feel each leg in search of an injury and while doing so I snuck a nuzzle with my face on his forehead. I didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, and as he sat there I walked back to the alcove to see what he had knocked over to make such a loud thud. There was nothing there. Not a single thing. Obviously it was his body that had made the loud thud.

Dane walked him up and down the hallway, back and forth, while I ran to my computer to google “what does a dog having a seizure look like.” Several sites mentioned loss of limb control, jerking movements, disorientation, and non-responsiveness. I called the vet right then and they told me they’d see me right away. Chuck is one of their favorite patients, obviously, as he can balance smaller dogs on his head.


I will save the vet story for another post, it deserves it’s own space, but I know many of you care about this mutt just as much as I do. So: I’m waiting for the results of some blood work to determine whether or not he needs an MRI (they should be calling in the next few hours). He appears to be healthy and okay. We’ll know more soon.

The worst, for now, is saved again for a time unknown.


Thank you all for sending good thoughts our way. The cynical may scoff that you could become attached to a dog you do not know in real life, but I feel that you are as much a part of his family as I am.