Trouble in Gangsta’s Paradise
There is something wrong with the Notorious F.O.X. I don’t know what it is, and unfortunately, right now, neither does the veterinarian.
We adopted Notorious F.O.X. from the animal shelter when she was between three and four years old. She’d been brought to the shelter, adopted, returned, then adopted again, then found roaming the streets pregnant and they couldn’t track down her owner (she could be her own Lifetime movie). She had her puppies at the shelter and watched all of them get adopted away from her within two months, after which she was spayed. By the time we came along, she’d been in the shelter for three months (it’s a wonderful shelter that keeps all their animal friends as long as it takes for them to find a home). She was depressed, they told us. She never ate. But she was so calm and sweet. When Husband Then Fiancé and I walked around the shelter, she just looked at us, with those eyes that look like they’ve lived a million lifetimes, and when we put our fingers to the metal wires, she walked up and licked us.
We left the shelter with Notorious F.O.X and brought her to her new home, where she promptly got into the potato salad while we weren’t looking. We didn’t even get mad. Oh, early love. Over the following months, we learned things about Notorious F.O.X. – how she could take down a Christmas tree, for example, and bust through a window and its wooden blinds. Later, we discovered she could chew through and/or break any kind of metal crate. We have addressed the anxiety in different ways over the years, sometimes with better results than others, but inevitably, she reverts to her original namesake self. She’s notorious. There’s nothing else to say. What other dog do you know of who has tried to escape from a house through an AC vent?
Her anxiety is at its worst now. She’ll crawl on top of me in bed, jump up and walk along the outside wall, attack corrugated cardboard boxes like there’s raw meat hidden inside of it. She’s also between ten and eleven years old now and her eyesight and hearing are waning. A few days ago, I came home to her shaking violently. As in, looked like she was having a seizure. I immediately called the vet and asked to bring her in.
The vet is on the same block I live on, on the opposite corner, and across the street. It only takes a few minutes to walk there, or a half hour depending on how distracted the children are (Look, leaves! Look, a car! Look, a speck on the sidewalk!). It was my first visit to the vet with both children, since this visit.
To start, as soon as the veterinarian walked into the room, the first words out of his mouth were “So what seems to be the problem today with—oh, hello.” See, The Boy decided that he should walk up and grasp the veterinarian’s legs in a big bear hug. I smiled and nodded like this was totally normal. Rather than explain to the vet “My son has autism and we’ve been working really hard on encouraging him to socialize and be affectionate but he doesn’t always understand the differences between friends and strangers, not that you’re a total stranger of course, but blah blah blah” I simply smiled and said, “My son’s very friendly. Son, you can let go now.”
The good doctor let it drop and we began our dog discussion. We went through the usual list of Notorious F.O.X.’s anxiety issues, then I added that they seemed worse lately, and coupled with the shaking/possible seizing, I feared the worst. He asked me if there was anything different at home, did we have a new baby, did we get another pet, did we buy her a new bed—
“Ahhhhh! A cat!”
Apparently, Little No Limit thought that an appropriate moment to prance the toy cat the receptionist gave her through the air.
“Please keep your voice down while Mommy is talking with the doctor, thank you,” I said, and smiled at the doctor. “Um, the only thing new is her leash. I can’t imagine that’s an issue.”
Just then, The Boy tried to climb up on top of the table where Notorious F.O.X. was resting while the vetertinairan petted her head. “I’m going to ride her!” he exclaimed.
I immediately informed the veterinarian that the children are not allowed to ride the dogs (even if they can dance with them). He asked if Notorious F.O.X. ever lashed out at the kids, or anyone, and I said, “No, she’s really quite calm and well behaved around them [even when they do succeed in riding her]” at which point Little No Limit thought it necessary to TURN THE LIGHTS OUT and scream “Daaaaark!!!!!”
In my best mother voice, I said, “TURN THAT BACK ON – THIS. INSTANT.”
It is either a show of my acting capabilities and/or complete idiocy that when the lights came back on, I kept a straight face and said to Dr. Probably Now Scared Of Having Kids, “So what do you think?”
He, for his part, maintained a calm demeanor and acknowledged that it could have been a seizure, or worse (eg: central nervous system tumor), but nothing was giving him that indication now, as her vitals were all normal.
Pause, with look at the kids.
“I think I’d like to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for her for the next two months and see how that goes.”
Another pause, as Little No Limit and The Boy start arguing over their imaginary personas – “No, I’m a robot!” “No, you’re a dog!”
So, uh, doc, you want to prescribe any of that for me too?
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