Mia: Shaken Not Stirred

The true life stories of a NYC female.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cleo's Boo-Boo Part 1

Memorial Day Weekend, Friday night: It was really late and I heard my dog Cleo throwing up. It sounded as if she was hurling everything she'd ever eaten in her life. I ran to see what was wrong with her and got there just in time to see her spew up a hair ball the size of a kitten. “Holy Monkey Cleopatra-Spartacus what the hell is that?!”

I parted what little fur she had left on the area and found a raw red spot, “It’s a hot spot.” My boyfriend informed me and then added that he had noticed her chewing at the spot for several days. I gave him a dirty look and flew at him ready to punch him in the Adam’s apple only to be stopped by my father. “Well, jeez Josh thank you very much for telling me now! Why didn’t you say something before she ripped her fur out? “I thought you knew.” He replied. Yeah sure, like I’m really going to see my dog suffering and not help her. Since it was late and no pet stores were open to get her some hot spot medicine I stood up with her all night to make sure she didn’t attack the spot again.

The next morning bright and early Josh showed up with some medicine for Cleo and instructions from his uncle a former dog trainer to cover up the area with a gauze bandage to keep her from licking it. Little did we know Cleo would turn cannibal on us. She didn’t pick at the spot while I was awake but oh ho ho the mutt went to town on it while I was asleep.

I woke up Sunday morning to the sound of Cleo whimpering. My bedroom floor looked like a crime scene, there was blood every where. Blurry eyed I jumped out of bed and ran towards Cleo and picked her up. Good morning sunshine! She had chewed a hole the size of a fist right through her upper hind leg. I could see muscle, tendon and whatever else had been under the layers of her skin. There was blood running down her leg. “Oh Cleo what did you do to yourself?” I moaned. When I looked into her eyes she looked utterly miserable. I screamed.

Twenty minutes later I was sitting in the back seat of the car with Cleo in my lap her hind quarters all bandaged up while my dad drove around in search of an open veterinary clinic on Memorial Day weekend, the gods were not with us. Naturally there were all closed, at least in the Bronx. As we headed towards Manhattan I glanced down at Cleo wondering what I would do if something happened to her.

When we adopted her nine years ago she was originally supposed to have been my dad’s but from the moment we got her she attached herself to me. I hadn't even noticed her as I looked her litter mates over at the shelter. She made sure I took note by waddling up to me and licking my fingers. She placed her paws on my wrist laying her claim on me even though we’d already decided on her brother. As I held her brother in my arms she barked at me demanding that I look her and when I did she sat and wagged her tail at me her expressive face appearing to break out into a smile. There was something about her eyes that pulled me in. Judging by the crowd they were drawing I knew her brother and the others would be quickly adopted. Cleo I wasn’t too sure about. She was the runt of the litter and not as cute as her siblings. Half St. Bernard and half chow at 7 weeks old she didn’t look like much even though her St. Bernard markings were evident. It wasn’t until she was a few months old that she morphed into this beautiful dog.

From the minute we got her home she started following me around every where trying to keep up with me on her short little legs. The thing that impressed me the most about her was her intelligence. She was house broken in less than a week and it took another few days for her to learn simple commands. I named her Cleopatra–Spartacus due to my love of history. Cleopatra because of her superior intelligence and regal bearing in addition to her expressive amber colored eyes ringed in black as if she had lined them with kohl eyeliner. I added Spartacus because even though she was smaller than her siblings she was warrior like, pushing her way to the front of the kennel over their little fat wiggly bodies making sure I saw her. She's lived up to her name ever since never backing down from dogs twice her size or menacing people when she's felt I was in danger. Her name truly suits her.

My thoughts returned to the present and I cursed every veterinarian in my boro for having the chutzpah to be on closed when my doggie needed them.I reached into my pocket wishing I had an altoid or tic tac to give her to take the taste of her own flesh out of her mouth. Sensing that I was upset she attempted to sit up and lick my face. I held her head in between my hands and despite my allergies buried my face in her neck and nuzzled her. When I was done sneezing she settled back in on my lap and wagged her tail as I ran my hands up and down her body. I felt guilty for not having heard her chewing herself up over night, for not having noticed the hot spot earlier.

My dad interrupted my thoughts, “Are you okay there little one?” “I’m fine pa it’s just…this is Cleo… she’s never been sick a day in her life. What if this is something really serious? What if she…you know dies.” “Mia, she's not going to die.” “I’m taking her to Bulgaria with me when I leave for the Peace corp." “You are?” “Yeah, I told ma I’m getting my own place out there so I can have Cleo live with me. I don’t want her to go through what happened last time I was in Egypt.” “Yeah I know.”

Cleo had missed me horribly while I in Egypt, she was constantly whining by the door waiting for me to come home. Every time one of my friends came over she’d run past them looking for me only to come back and stand in front of them with a confused expression as if wondering where I was. Every night I’d call home and mom would put me on speaker phone and I’d hear Cleo barking and jumping in the back ground. After several days she picked up on the fact that if the phone rang late at night while everyone was asleep it meant that I was calling. Cleo then got into the habit of sleeping next to the phone and the minute it rang she’d start wagging her tail and barking. She had refused to eat while I was gone despite my dad force feeding her she was crack head thin when I returned home a month later. I vowed then never to leave her behind again. “You know pa ever since I came back from Egypt she’s had this separation anxiety thing going on. She even follows me into the bathroom now; she’s even tried to go into the shower with me. I don’t think she’d survive if I left her home while I lived in Bulgaria for a couple of years.” “I think you’re right on that one little one.” My dad replied. I scratched behind her ears, “I couldn’t take it if something happened to her while I was gone.” Visions of of having her stuffed like Roy Roger's horse Trigger floated through my head. I wondered if I could do that to my parents as well.

Dad dropped me off in front of the ASPCA's animal hospital while he went in search of a parking space, no easy feat in Manhattan let me tell you. Cleo didn't give me a chance to lift her out instead she jumped out quickly after me. Blood started pouring down her leg. God she was killing me. As she followed me into the hospital her bloodied bandage began to unravel and she stepped out of it stopping to look up at me and wagged her tail before she did. As I approached the reception desk several people asked about Cleo's breed and remarked on how pretty she was. She rewarded each of them with her best regal pose and a wag of her tail. When the receptionist saw Cleo she came out from behind her desk to admire her. As I explained to the receptionist my reason for being there Cleo being her typical self sat before her and held out her paw as if greeting her. I swear sometimes I feel as if the dog should be wearing a tiara. Once her paw had been accepted by the receptionist Cleo laid on her back and offered her tummy demanding a belly rub. The receptionist complied with Cleopatra-Spartacus's wish. The damn dog was acting as of nothing was wrong with her.

“We have no vets on call until Tuesday” the receptionist informed me and said she knew of no other animal hospital that was opened during the holiday weekend. My heart sank as I repeated the receptionist's words to my father outside. “We’ve got a full tank of gas, I’m off until Tuesday and your mom’s calling every vet in the yellow pages. Let’s head back home. If there’s a vet open we’ll find him.” he said as we drove off.

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