Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Man's Best Friend (A Dolby Story)

I recently read a quote that went something like: “They say dog is man’s best friend. I don’t know. How many of your best friends have you had neutered?”

It’s safe to say that, while Dolby did eventually become Dan’s best friend, they weren’t that close yet when we had that taken care of. In the cat, I mean. We were surprised the vet said we could have Dolby neutered as early as six months of age. I realize they do it even sooner, now, but at the time, I still had it in my head that we had to wait until he was a year old. Nope. Six months.

Dutifully, as responsible pet owners, we took our still-fluffy kitten off to the vet in his cat carrier and, with great nervousness, left him there. I felt so sad for him, knowing he’d be all alone in his little box in a totally strange environment, without his favorite things. Without me!

When we picked him up the following morning, I was anxious to see him and grateful when the vet said everything had gone "just fine." The vet gave us very specific instructions about keeping Dolby in his carrier and not allowing him to eat for a certain period of time. He let us know that our precious baby was still groggy from the surgery and would likely be sore for a day or two. I just wanted to get Dolby home, the poor kitty.

Back at the apartment, we set the carrier in our bedroom. Dolby seemed agitated all of a sudden, clawing at the door and meowing pitifully. I weighed in my mind the instructions from the vet. “I can’t let you out, Sweetheart,” I probably said. But as he continued to cry, my heart near broke. Clearly, he wanted out of the carrier and into his familiar surroundings. I appealed to Dan for guidance but he was as clueless as I, and just as distraught at Dolby’s apparent distress.

“Well, should we let him out?”

“I don’t know. The vet said not to.”

“Maybe if we just stay right by him?”

At length we decided to open the carrier and see what happened. With a burst of joyful energy at his freedom, Dolby walked out the door as if he’d never had surgery at all. A second later, his hind quarters remembered that they were completely anesthetized and the back half of him collapsed in a doughy heap. Dolby seemed perplexed by this. He kept looking over his shoulder to see what the problem was, but could find no reasonable explanation. At length he managed to get his feet back under him, but any attempt at forward motion resulted in another rear flat.

I am a little ashamed to say that Dan and I started laughing at the poor guy. It wasn’t that we weren’t sympathetic to the fact that he’d just had major surgery. It was more his stubborn determination to resume life as usual and his complete bewilderment at his body’s lack of cooperation.

Haltingly (with us giggling most of the way) he made it to the side of our bed which, though it was a futon and quite low to the ground, was still an impossible leap for someone unable to feel his legs. He, of course, attempted it anyway which, sadly, made us laugh all the more.

Finally I took pity on our sweet kitten and lifted him onto our bed, thinking he wanted to rest among the stuffed animals in his familiar place. But, no, this was not his objective. From the bed, he determinedly dragged his backside to the heat register at the head of the bed and tried, with little success, to maneuver his sore nether regions right onto the warm metal.

I’d had enough. Lovingly, I lifted him from the bed and stroked him reassuringly behind his ears. I wrapped him in his towel and gently placed him back into the safety of his cat carrier and closed the door. This time he didn’t protest a bit and drifted off into a healing sleep. Thank goodness.

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