Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Because the coronavirus and all that surrounds it is hard and distressing, here is a story about my dog.
We’re that kind of edgy around here that even little changes make us jump. So when I was putting away laundry in my closet on Sunday, and I heard our labradoodle trying to get up in the hallway, her paws unable to find purchase on the hardwood floor, I ran out of my room.
“Georgie?” I called. “Georgie?”
I saw her tail whisk around the corner. I raced into the family room to find she’d planted herself in her brown doggy bed and was sitting there, wide-eyed, shaking slightly.
I looked up and down the hallway. Was there some small creature who spooked her? (she can run short on canine instincts) But I saw nothing.
I asked my daughter, whose room was right there, if she’d dropped something that might have startled the dog. Nope.
I went back and stared at Georgie. She was lying down now, her expression an indecipherable mix of alert and Zen. Her head bobbed back and forth, an odd kind of palsy. But otherwise, she seemed fine. I returned to my laundry.
An hour and a half, one long phone call and a bad migraine later, I walked past the dog on my way to the bathroom to get some medication. She was in the same place she’d been 90 minutes before. Not just in the same bed, but in the same, exact position.
After I took my migraine pill, I lay down on the living room couch and I waited for the meds to work. Georgie’s just sedentary, I thought.
But she’s not that sedentary.
I called to my daughter, and asked her to take the dog on a walk. Usually, those words alone are enough to pop our pooch to her feet. But I didn’t hear any movement.
My daughter got the leash, called the dog’s name. Georgie wouldn’t move. I got up, stumbled into the family room, called to the dog. She just stared at me, her head doing that same Jello-wobble. My daughter and I looked at each other. Then, since it was Sunday and the regular vet was closed, I called the animal ER. Bring her in, they said.
The boys lifted her into the car and my daughter and I took off, Georgie slip-sliding back and forth across the floor of the minivan. Her legs seemed like they couldn’t quite bear up underneath her. But she didn’t moan, or cry out in pain. She didn’t actually make any sound at all.
When we got to the veterinary ER, we called the front desk and a broad man in a black face mask came out and carried her in the building. The last glimpse we had was of her tail, wagging lazily, as the sliding doors closed behind her.
Five minutes passed, then ten. “Do you think it’s kind of bad?” I asked my daughter at last. “Or just bad? Or really bad? I think it’s only kinda bad.”
“Mom!” she said, turning to face the car door. “Stop it! You’re stressing me out.”
Finally, my phone rang. It was the vet. She asked me to repeat the story of how we got here. After I did, she asked a question. “Is there any chance,” she said, “that there’s marijuana in your house?”
“Um…” I started to grin, picturing the two young men we’d welcomed back this month from college. “Maybe?”
The dog, she said, was showing “classic signs of marijuana toxicity.” But not to worry, Georgie would be fine. Leave her in a dark room. Let her sleep it off.
“She’s just high,” the vet said.
I started to giggle. My daughter asked what was going on. I put the vet on speaker, asked her to repeat the diagnosis. A smile spread across my daughter’s face. We said goodbye to the vet, then the two of us laughed until we just about cried.
When they brought the dog back to the car, my daughter, still giggling, covered her in kisses.
“Stoner dog,” I crooned to Georgie. “You’re just a stoner doggie, aren’t you?”
As for what she ate, apparently it was a cookie with more than just flour and sugar to recommend it. One person left the cookie out on the counter in someone else’s room. The person whose room it was failed to throw it out when the night was over.
And in the morning, when no one was looking, the dog’s excellent sense of smell led her to discover what others had overlooked.
It’s Tuesday, and Georgie seems to have forgotten any of it ever happened. And look, these are stressful times. The dog feels it, too. She’s got that little limp coming and going, the one that always shows up when she’s tense. But for 24 hours or so, the limp disappeared. It wasn’t intentional, and we don’t plan to repeat it, but for a little while, Georgie got to chill, as if none of this coronavirus stuff was even happening.
The edibles, I’ve been told, have been put away. Hopefully, far, far away.