Ruth Zavitsanos

March 6, 2013

The Scent Of A Sibling

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I’d heard talk of my annual veterinary visit. She’d put it on her calendar. And when something went on THE calendar, the one sitting on her big desk next to that big lit up screen, it is going to happen. I’m fine. Actually feeling great since they give me this pill twice a day that keeps my weight down and my energy up. Thyroid. I don’t know what it means, but my favorite visitor, Grandma who brings me treats, she takes a thyroid pill, too. And she’s full of energy.

The morning of the vet appointment had arrived. I jumped in the car ready for the visit. Shots. There was talk of shots. I sat nervously in the front seat and then jumped to the back, thinking I might be forgotten back there. Soon I knew that was not so when the window next to me went down a bit. We pulled into the parking lot, and before the windows went up, my nose tickled with a familiar scent. I got out of the car and took in more of the scents. NO. No I did not want to go in that building. Death had arrived. I did not want to be there. Death lingered near that familiar scent. Pushing and pulling, I finally went in, but my nerves were so bad I couldn’t sit still. I shivered and panted. Told to calm down, patted, and hugged, nothing helped. Fear consumed me. Something in that backroom held a familiar scent, and Death shrouded over it. I considered barking and making a big deal, but I preferred to leave. When a cat arrived, I pretended to want to chase it thinking I could then bolt out the door. Instead, the leash tightened.

A nurse came out and sweetly said my name. Prompted to move, I stood firm. Practically carried into the room for the doctor to give me my physical, I panted heavily and shook non-stop. Closer now, the familiar scent grew stronger.

“What’s wrong with you, Pebbles?” my owner and dearest being asked. “I’ve never seen you like this,” she said, patting me. “Calm down,” she held my face.

If I could cry the tears would’ve been there. If I could speak, the words would’ve been heard. All I could do is shake, pant, and look at the door with the hope of escaping.

The vet arrived. Her voice sweet and caring, she coaxed me over to her. Next, I was placed on the slippery, shiny platform and weighed. My weight is good, the vet had said. Trying for a heartbeat, my owner had to hold me. “I’m sorry. I’ve never seen her this upset. Maybe it’s because she’s getting older.” The vet managed, though I can’t imagine how, ‘cause I thought once my heart leaped out of my skin. SHOTS. Here come the shots. I didn’t care. Shots were nothing compared to what was going on behind that door to the back room. Shots meant I’d have a chance at a healthier life. And Death was behind that door.

“She’s taking these shots great,” the vet said. “Her teeth look really good.”

My owner took me off the platform and hugged me. “Pebbles, hear that? You have healthy teeth. That means you’re a healthy girl.”

Though my heart was pounding loudly, I did hear and more than that I saw in her eyes the love and happiness she had at that moment. For a second, I forgot why I’d been in such a state of shattered nerves.

“Come on, lets get those nails cut,” the vet said.

Nails cut. I’d have to go in that back room. I sat and refused to move my 61-pound body.

“Pebbles, you’re just getting your nails trimmed,” my owner said. Her voice sharpened. “Come on, let’s go.” She pulled, but I did not budge.

No. I couldn’t go back there. I’m sorry. I wish it weren’t so. Truly I do, but I can’t stand to see and… I’d been pushed, and the door closed quickly behind me. Lowering my head, I wished my keen sense of smell would diminish just for the few minutes it took to get my nails trimmed. I looked away. The nurse held my head and talked to me. I didn’t listen. I wanted to be done.

My heart faltered, Death flew past me and stopped where my sibling lay. Yes, the familiar scent was that of my sister from the same litter our mom bore just over nine years ago. She’d been the one Death came for behind the door. I barked. At first I wanted Death to leave her be, but I heard the talk. That she’d been in pain. Her organs shut down, and nothing could be done. I barked again, saying goodbye and wishing her a safe trot over the bridge to doggie heaven.

I returned to my owner, calmer.

“Happy to have those nails cut,” she said.

After paying we walked out and she turned to hold the door for my litter sibling’s owner. A young man with tears in his eyes and a leash wrapped in his hand. I took in her scent, knowing she’d gone peacefully and now trotted aimlessly full of joy across a great field, one that never ended.

My owner knew. “Awe, you’re sister, Tippy, didn’t make it. But she’s not in pain any more and is where she needs to be.”

I wagged my tail. She hugged me. On the drive home, I stuck my head out the window and looked up to the sky, taking in the fresh air for me and Tippy.

*Footnote: This story, though told through my dog, Pebbles’, point of view, is based on fact. My heart goes out to Tippy’s family over their loss.

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November 2, 2012

When Sandy Came to My Backyard

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Keeping the family warm during SANDY.

It was not a typical get up and go to school day. I knew mama nature was coming through my backyard soon. All those nutty squirrels, sly foxes, and darling deer were moving around grabbing food and looking for a warm place to hide. Even the birds did not dare sing their songs. Though, I’m always happy having a loving family, during these times I really feel my heart pound with joy knowing I will be safe.
During our last outing the winds blew my fur every which way and Rocky could hardly stay on his little paws. We chased the ball, did our business and ran in before long. Without warning, silence and darkness fell inside. People talking on a screen in the family room, along with the other screens with lights and sounds, went black and silent. Soon, various scents filled the room with soft yellow and orange lights waving. Where often we were shooed off, now we were ordered to sleep in the bed. Rocky shook like the leaves outside during the worst of it. I stayed strong, but fear kept me from moving. Winds roared and rain, oh the rain. After the first night, the winds died down and so did my fear. Rocky made a mess, but he didn’t get in trouble. Finally we got to go out, but not for long. The rain kept falling and inside the cold gave me a chill that I shook off. My family insisted I stay near. Were they scared? My soft dry fur and body heat put a smile on their faces. I like this, my tail wagged and Rocky also enjoyed all the attention. Along with quiet conversation came lots of praise for me and Rocky, too. That big screen and those other screens where fingers pound away in front of it, never went on. At night, I led the way but was given a circle of light to follow. By the third night it got colder. Blankets were added to the family couch and Rocky sat up high on them while I snuggled next everyone. All of us being together had our tails wagging. At times, they went out to “Power up”. One time they came home and it was dark, silent and I had my tail between my legs while Rocky shivered. When they came back, we were met with sadness. Wherever they went, it was better than home. How could that be? In their voices, fear penetrated through me. I thought about all the darkness and cold. Maybe there was something to those screens talking and the dings from the washer or the buzz from the dryer. And, what about water. My bowl outside had some rain water in it. Sometimes, that makes me feel icky. Those rooms where I go to throw up haven’t been used at all. Not one loud water flow in three days. I want it back. I want my family happy, safe and warm. Come on big screens, washer, dryer, toilets, heat, lights, come on. Before the early bedtime, in one big wag of a tail, everything came on at once. My family jumped up smiling and laughing. Rocky and I got in on the excitement, barking, jumping, tails wagging. We were all glad to be in our home…again.

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