I wrote this post the evening before Dusty passed, in anticipation of posting it the next day. I figured since it was already written, I might as well post it.

Week Two – Day 3: Walking the Line

“Dusty, I am going to strangle you until you are dead.” I say it in my sweetest, most high-pitched voice while I steam clean the carpet with our new steam cleaner (the other one gave out after two weeks of constant accidents and regurgitations).

“Good, save us the money on the pink juice.” Joe pets Dusty’s head affectionately, and she thumps her tail on the ground and barks at him, then prances away to continue chewing on my Uggs.

“Dusty!” I put the steam cleaner down to grab the shoe while Joe replaces it with her Nylabone and praises her for being such a good dog for chewing on the Nylabone, even though three seconds before she was chewing on my two hundred dollar shoes which don’t fit in the shoe box that Joe made to put all our shoes in. I pick the steam cleaner up and start scrubbing again.

“Jeez, take it easy babe, you don’t need to rip the carpet out to clean it.”

It’s been like this for a few days now. Besides dealing with the normal puppy stuff (which just about drives me out of my skull all by itself), we also have to deal with her non-normal Mega-E puppy stuff. It’s been four days since I slept more than four hours. My doctor says I have lost 16 pounds in two weeks (not that I’m complaining, but even I can realize that’s not healthy). I am starting to get incredibly aggravated, and the beer doesn’t seem to be helping anymore (maybe I should upgrade to wine, or tequila).

Last night, Dusty regurgitated two times on the bed and threw up in Joe’s hands once. These incidents occurred at 2, 3 and 4 a.m. At 5, I finally got to sleep only to have Smokey jump up on the bed 30 minutes later because Dusty was awake once more. Breakfast time. After the 4 a.m. incident, Joe screamed at me, “Put her in the bathroom.”

I complied, and I didn’t feel bad about it at all, not even when she started to cry or throw her body against the door. A few minutes went by, and I couldn’t sleep, even though I was sure there were anvils attached to my eyelids. Joe wasn’t asleep either, I could hear him rustling his legs under the sheets. “We’re not doing the right thing here,” he said after ten minutes of Dusty’s crying.

I sighed and nodded, my hair swishing against the soft, Egyptian cotton sheets that we had splurged on when we first moved in together, and which our puppy was methodically destroying with excrement from her esophagus.

“Remember what Rhonda said, we can’t stress ourselves out about this so much that we end up wishing she was dead. We’re punishing her because she’s sick, it’s not her fault.”

I threw the covers off and walked to the bathroom door to let her out. Dusty immediately sprang forward and jumped on my legs, whining and licking and wagging her tail like it was the worst ten minutes of her life. I picked her up and cuddled her, telling her she was a good girl, and I was sorry that I got so angry with her. I hushed her softly until she stopped whining and then went to the sink and sponged off her head where there were remains of her dinner left. How they got there, I have no idea.

When she was clean, I put her down and walked into the bedroom. She followed and jumped up the steps to get onto our bed (Joe built them after she almost had an encounter with the emergency vet trying to get off the bed). As soon as everyone was settled again, she crawled on her belly up to me and laid on the top of my pillow. I could smell the throw up on her paws as she dug her claws into my scalp, already dreaming.

I sighed and leaned up slightly to pull some of the covers on Joe’s side to my side, where Smokey was trying to hoard them. At the same moment, Joe rolled over onto his side and elbowed me right in my left temple. “What the hell? What were you doing on my side?” Joe snapped.

“I don’t know, how about trying to get some covers so I can get some sleep!” I yelled back.

This morning, we didn’t even look at each other. We left one another notes about who fed who and who walked who on our feeding schedule board, but we didn’t speak. On my way to work, I texted Joe and told him I was sorry, that I was stressed out, and I know that he didn’t mean to hit me in the head. He said he was sorry too, that he was just exhausted, and we resumed our regular work day. I have been dragging all day. I can barely even read a sentence, and the statutes I have been pinned to seem like they never end. For the first time in my life, I find myself saying, “83 pages, what, are you serious?”

But as I sit at my computer, writing a sentence of this here and there in between cups of coffee and emails, I pull up Facebook and see all the heartwarming thoughts and prayers that have covered my page for days, and I don’t feel as alone, or as angry. I look at the pictures of Dusty I have taken over the past few weeks and smile. I think about losing her, and I realize that I’m not ready. That’s good, in a way, that means that “I want to strangle you until you’re dead” is still a joke. And with a little luck, and more than a little sleep, it will stay that way.

I’m no Saint, and I sure wish Joe had the patience of Gandhi. I also wish Dusty would sleep past 5 a.m. and that Smokey wouldn’t steal the covers all the time, but considering the circumstance, I think we’re doing okay.

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