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To The Woman at the Veterinarian’s Office…

Yesterday, suddenly, Teddy the Dog became ill. We dashed off the the vet, and while we waited to get “worked in,” I started getting “worked up.” Sitting beside the stainless steel table in the exam room, looking at my old dog, I started to cry. In my troubled mind, I knew this was the end for my little Sheltie.

“Old dogs really are the best, aren’t they?” I asked Teddy as I gently stroked her gray-tipped Sheltie ears. She looked at me with those big brown eyes, as if to say, “I may go first, but it is love that has bonded us together, and that bond will endure forever.” (She is a writer’s dog, after all. She’s quite pithy.)

I cried a few more tears and then sobered up.

When the doctor appeared, he asked what was going on, and I explained that she’d had diarrhea and now the soft skin on her pink tummy was sloughing off.

With much gravitas, I told him, “It’s either a skin malady, or she’s dying. I need to know which.”

And then I stifled another crying jag.

He examined her thoroughly and said, “She’s not dying. She’s got a bacterial skin infection. We can get this cleared up with proper medication. She’s going to be fine.”

I don’t remember the doctor’s name, but he was a patient soul. When he said she was going to be fine, I started to cry again.

I can’t lose Teddy. Not yet. She’s the last remnant of my once-normal life. I asked my buddy Milton if she’d aged precipitously in the last 16 months. He replied quietly, “We all have. This has changed us forever.”

Teddy was there when Wayne ended his life. She heard it, saw it, and apparently tried to “wake him up” by licking him and circling the chair repeatedly.

Teddy lost both of her “people” that day. Wayne died. I lost my mind. For a time.

Both Teddy and Mother are doing better these days, but we still are struggling. We’re in rental housing and that’s not ideal, but it was the best we could do with the mess that we were left. In the first four months, Teddy had two surgeries, both of which involved life-threatening emergencies. In that same time, I had a minor outpatient surgery - the first in my life.

Before The Bad Thing™, Teddy was the most laid-back dog you’d ever meet. Thunder storms, loud noises, fireworks did not faze her one bit. Now, she’s a different dog. Loud noises cause her much anxiety. Both Teddy and I put some effort into avoiding loud noises. And when she’s on leash, she’s showing some aggression to other dogs, big or small.

Because of this, I try to keep a tight handle on her around other dogs, but yesterday in the vet’s office, some woman with her little Yorkie thought it’d be cute to let her dog sniff my dog. I was at the counter paying the bill and didn’t see her approach. Teddy snarled and her hackles went up and she bared her teeth. She was poised and ready to strike.

As I reined in Teddy, I saw the look of disgust on the woman’s face and saw her whisper something to her husband as she walked away. I’ve seen this same face when Teddy and I are out for our evening constitutionals.

I would love to grab these people by the lapels and say, “This is not my little dog’s fault. This is not my fault. This is just a result of some really ugly trauma and we’re all doing our best.”

One of my “dog people” friends told me that in Teddy’s world - Teddy probably feels like she is protecting me. She’s fine at Doggy Day Care (which we visit a couple times a month), but the trouble starts when she’s on leash with me, out in the world.

That comment helped a lot, and gave me much peace. Dear little Teddy sees me as someone that needs protecting. Endears her to me ever more, if that’s possible.

Someone else said, “She’s just reacting to your anxiety. If you calm down, she’ll be fine.”

That was not helpful. In fact, it hurt like hell.

In the meantime, Teddy and I move through the days and we are both striving to stay healthy. And the good news is, 24 hours later, Teddy’s skin infection is already on the mend.

To read more about Teddy, click here.

To learn about the big fancy Sears House - the Magnolia - click here.

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Teddy

On a rainy Tuesday in Southeastern Virginia, Teddy watches the world go by. The tips of those precious little prick ears turned white in the days following Wayne's suicide.

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To read more about Teddy, click here.

To learn about the big fancy Sears House - the Magnolia - click here.

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  1. Katie W.
    August 29th, 2017 at 11:27 | #1

    What a perfect companion Teddy seems to be for you. <3

    You both help each other keep going, it’s a strong bond.

    I have always had a soft spot for shaggy pups, especially shelties.

    They’re so pretty.

  2. Linda Ramsey
    August 29th, 2017 at 11:28 | #2

    So glad Teddy is doing better. I wish I had been there with you so I could have told that lady off.

    I am sure you would have been too emotional at the time.

    Under any circumstances, you do not let your pet near another animal without asking.

    Even the best of animals can be very protective.

    Hang in there Rose and Teddy!

  3. bfish
    August 29th, 2017 at 11:34 | #3

    I am so glad to learn the dear Teddy is on the mend!

    And as to the woman who’s the subject of your post — what an asshole!!

    That sounds harsh, but I won’t retract.

    Yes she may have made an innocent, if very uninformed, mistake by letting her dog approach someone else’s pet at the vet’s office — but when the reaction isn’t friendly she should be sorry, not disgusted.

    Even setting aside the trauma that you and Teddy have undergone (I refer to Wayne, not illness that sent you to the vet), animals at an animal hospital are often (sarcasm) there for a reason — they’re sick, injured etc.

    And their owners are upset for them, with their pets additionally picking up on that vibe.

    In other words, it’s the worst possible time to assume one’s pet is welcome to “make friends” with any of the other animals there.

    Similarly, I never approach anyone else’s dogs or cats when I’m in the waiting room, without first asking the express permission of their “mama” or “daddy”.

  4. Lori Jackson Black
    August 29th, 2017 at 11:49 | #4

    Idiot lady at the vet. It’s the vet - a doctor for pets.

    Even the best dogs get antsy at the vet. My dog hates all people and all other animals. Seriously. Except me.

    This is why she lingered at the shelter. She was waiting for me. Who else would adopt a 10 year old vicious Chihuahua? Me, of course, because I am her human and I am here to serve her.

    People think she is so cute, all six lbs of her. They reach out to pet her before I have time to say she bites.

    So, now we limit public outings and she has to be in a crate to go to the vets, which she is fine with.

    Dogs are our protectors. Teddy is protecting you both emotionally and physically.

    I know my time with my little one is short. She is about 12 years old now and turning white on her head.

    Some Chihuahuas are known to live nearly 20 years and I have hopes this is so.

    If not, I know I am better for the few short years I have had her.

    I am glad Teddy is getting better.

    Love and prayers to you both, Lori

  5. Janet LaMonica
    August 29th, 2017 at 13:23 | #5

    Poor little Teddy. She’s such a sweetheart, and I hope she’s better soon.

  6. Jill Grusak
    August 29th, 2017 at 15:38 | #6

    Have you ever thought about getting Teddy a service dog vest?

    She is your emotional support dog, and that is a type of recognized service dog.

    My mother in law’s dog is a Boston terrier/Chihuahua mix and acts as her emotional support dog. He keeps her calm.

    She puts the vest on him whenever they are out because at least the people with a clue know a dog in a vest is a working dog and not to be bothered.

    Again, people with a clue, but you can school the idiots that see the vest and still bug you and Teddy.

  7. August 30th, 2017 at 03:59 | #7

    People think she is so cute, all six lbs of her.

    They reach out to pet her before I have time to say she bites.

  8. August 30th, 2017 at 08:25 | #8

    Canines are very perceptive. I wish they could talk, even baby talk. Well, mine does.

    They have special colored leashes for different personalities, from aggressive to do-not-smell-my-butt.

    The Vet’s office is not the best place to socialize. It can be traumatizing for all concerned.

    Children should be under control. And I don’t mean the human type. Glad Teddy is doing better. <3

  9. Rhonda LaPointe Frazier
    August 30th, 2017 at 08:27 | #9

    “Dear little Teddy” should also have the TM symbol after it! :)

  10. Jen
    August 31st, 2017 at 22:47 | #10

    So glad Teddy is on the mend!

    After all that has happened, I do not doubt she herself was traumatized and at the same time, she is trying to protect and care for you.

    Also, who on earth approaches someone else’s pet, without asking first, at the veterinarian’s office, of all places?! Yikes.

  11. Jenny
    September 1st, 2017 at 11:51 | #11

    Teddy is a beautiful dog! I”m glad she feeling better.

  12. Karin A
    September 2nd, 2017 at 18:30 | #12

    Hi Rose,

    You and Teddy have become my favorite reading subjects this afternoon. I’m glad he is better and both of you are healing.

    I came to your blog in an attempt to find the oldest living relatives of Florence Whitmore Fuller.

    I’m attempting to get family permission to mark her grave as a DAR member. I was hoping you could help me.

    Email me when you have the time and feel so inclined. Thanks so much and many thanks for my Saturday afternoon of great reading. You may not consider yourself a writer but you most certainly are! A great one at that!

  13. Justin Paris
    September 7th, 2017 at 13:41 | #13

    Glad your puppy is doing better!

  14. September 9th, 2017 at 14:53 | #14

    After 40 years, I still marvel that folks let their dogs run up to strange dogs in a vet office.

    Is the strange dog friendly? I don’t know. Is the strange dog contagious? I don’t know.

    Might I incur additional vet bills when my dog gets sick or injured by/from said strange dog? I don’t know. Will I be asked to pay damages if my dog injures/sickens strange dog?

    I don’t know. You get the point.

    Being strong and courageous, btw, doesn’t mean feeling that way. You are brave and courageous and smart and witty and a gifted writer.

    God bless you and dear Teddy.

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