This lesbian life: about a dog, a vet and time

She walks into the room wearing brown Birkenstock clogs that are faded, weathered and beaten up. She’s pinch-hitting for our regular, most caring vegan vet who’s away taking care of his own sick dog. The pinch-hitting vet is not only a she who’s a much better communicator than the regular vet, she doesn’t mumble and doesn’t think out loud in meandering, tangential monologues. What’s more, she answers questions directly. As an added bonus, she’s attractive. Amazing hands. A slight, English accent. Straight dark blonde pulled back loosely into a long ponytail. Slim and tall and well dressed except for those clogs. I give my head a shake. Not a time to be noticing cuteness.

She invites me into the room with Parker and asks me to wait a moment while she gets something from the technician. When she comes back, she’s holding some papers and her cheeks and chin and ears and forehead are red and she’s hesitant, searching for words.

My heart fell. This can’t be good.

“You’re red,” I say to her and she turns redder, nodding slightly.

Definitely not good. I thought I should prepare myself, but everything in me rebels at taking a deep breath to ground myself, focus my mind. Everything in me rebels at my instinct to find something reasonable and adult to say. In the moment, not only does it seem boring beyond belief, it is dishonest because sometimes, just sometimes, I do not want to be calm, cool and collected and because sometimes, just sometimes, life is not all it’s cracked up to be by all the “everything happens for a reason” and the “power of positive thinking” and the “create your own reality by what you eat and think and who you sleep with” and the “we are all stardust” propaganda brigades. Sometimes life sucks, stinks to high heaven and isn’t fair and this is one of those sometimes and I did not want to be calm, accepting, objective, or adult about it.

I can’t rebel so I take a mental detour instead: Is it too late to go back to Europe? Back to the French countryside? Back to browsing through  antique and second-hand shops and cathedrals and markets? Holding hands with she-of-the-killer-smile-and-so-much-more while we drive through towns and cities and make discoveries? Getting lost while I squint at a roadmap I can’t see, even with my glasses on? Back to owls calling out in the twilight times of dusk and dawn? Back to the cobblestones and wine and food and history? To French smiles and English high tea? To history and lazy afternoons? My adult self sighed and turned to face the ever-present uncertainty that is this human life.

“Talk to me,” I say to her. I am not being a brave adult, woman or lesbian. I’m scared. I brace my heart and soul and mind.

She nods again and tells me everything, the red on her face getting deeper, then fading.

I watch her mouth. Look into her eyes. Listen to her accent. I take in as much as I can of what she’s saying and I silently order, demand, insist to my inner self to stay perfectly still, to not move a muscle, to just listen, observe and take it in. A tear or two wells in each eye: I will them away.

She explains why Parker, he of the standard poodle pack, my major dog love has been so ill and weak and why it’s been so challenging to find out what we’re dealing with. Now, after two months we have a diagnosis. And isn’t good.

I ask questions, ignoring the tear or two that escapes and the box of tissues she slides across the examination table toward me. Parker is panting at my feet.

She answers as best she can and says she’s sorry to have to tell me such bad news. After a while, I have no more questions.

“This isn’t going to be easy,” she says as she walks me out of the room. “He’s your baby.”

I took a deep breath and nodded.

Parker and I are back to the reception area to wait for a prescription and reading material that explains more about the condition. I sit on the bench: Parker flops down on the floor, his breathing quite laboured. The lump in my throat gets bigger and I taste salt so I clench my teeth and refuse to cry. But then he starts breathing in ragged, jagged breaths and I move immediately from the bench to the floor to hold him, slipping my fingers into his curly hair, massaging his chest, unable to stop my chin from trembling or the tears streaming down my face. Another thing my magical lesbian shield failed to protect me against: life experience in the form of the loss of a pet, or three.

By the time she comes out with the prescription, I am no longer in tears. I’m composed. Or resigned.

The medication is not a fix, is not a cure, but it will stabilize him, give him some energy and will give him, and everyone who cares Parker poodle, some time. Not a lot of time according to the all the vets who treated and looked at him, but some. And I suppose that’s any of us ever get with who we love: some time.

Parker poodle

About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween. On hiatus from writing anywhere else but here ... at least for now.
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25 Responses to This lesbian life: about a dog, a vet and time

  1. tomboy says:

    This might sound stupid, but that nearly made me cry. I’ve been so caught up in all my sadness, I forgot about real life. It’s nice to read about it, nice to know that life is as simply complicated as loving a dog.

    • FS says:

      Dear Tomboy… hello, you 🙂. Sometimes, we read words that touch us in unexpected ways because of what we’re experiencing in the moment, or what we’ve experienced, or what we think about. It does not sound stupid.

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been caught up in any sadness, although I am sure you know — or guess — that real life does have moments of sadness and sometimes, we get caught up in that, or swallowed by it ‘cuz it hurts and it feels like it will never end. I am sure you also know, or wonder, or imagine that real life has lots of other things, like love, ice cream, the scary wonderful amazing love between two women, which ought to be simple, and from the heart. I hope your sadness ebbs. Take good care of you. ((((hugs))))

  2. Sarah says:

    > I am not being a brave adult, woman or lesbian. I’m scared . . .

    Wasn’t it you a couple-few years ago who reminded me that taking that breath and going forward *is* the definition of bravery?

    > . . . Sometimes life sucks, stinks to high heaven and isn’t fair . . .

    Ah, my virtual sorta-friend — life’s never fair, but if we’re very lucky, we have love and connections with other beings. (I know you know this — hope you don’t mind the reminder . . .)

    I’m sorry for your heartache! I hope you’re able to enjoy whatever time you have with Parker-poodle (and that you’re being gently held by other loved ones as you journey forward).

    –Sarah

    • FS says:

      Dear Sarah; Moi? I said that? Um… maybe I said that. You’re right about fairness, and on days such as these, (as we batten down the hatches in preparation for a once-in-a-lifetime storm, a reminder never hurts. In fact, it’s a very good thing. Thank you. And I hope you are keeping well.🙂

      • Sarah says:

        Oui, you indeed did. I trust you weathered the storm OK? And yes, thanks for asking, I am indeed keeping well. Pretty much all back to life by now (though still without my compass, so to speak), and glad to be back in the Maritimes. Be well yourself!

  3. lsawyer713 says:

    So sorry to hear of your pain. I have had animals all my life and each one is a part of me, from the first cat named Spooky i got as a Halloween gift to the cat i got from a family who gave her away too early. Loves of my life. I do feel your pain and know it enough to be able to tell you that time will make it better.🙂

    • FS says:

      Thank you lsawyer. I want a magic wand to fix him — and all the other troubles of the world. Surely that isn’t asking too much, is it? Isn’t it amazing how we are a mosaic of all the animals and people in our life, how many have taken bits of our heart and left pieces of themselves too..? A cat named Spooky? I bet you have many stories.🙂

  4. oypop says:

    as always, your words leave me nothing more to add.. I am so sorry for your loss and for these hollow words and I hope you find it in your heart to see some sincerity and candidness because I’ve been following you silently and reading … and sometimes getting hope from your words

    Perhaps it’s because I have never had a pet .. I’ve always wanted a dog, but I’m not allowed to .. but I suppose it’s like losing a sincere friend or one’s child .. and for that, again my thoughts are for you two

    • FS says:

      Dear oypop: Thank you. Your words aren’t hollow — thank you for taking time to and courage to write them and send them. I appreciate that you did. And, thank you for popping ’round all this time.🙂 I’m glad to know that you’re found some words here that offer you some hope. Sometimes it’s hard to see it, but there is always some hope.

      When you do get to have a dog, (and if it is a good match and you both train each other well) you will find that he or she will steal your heart and make you laugh and frustrate you and be an armful of love and comfort and a reason to get out and see the neighbourhood, and meet and talk with people you’d never normally meet and you’ll learn about puppy love and maybe teach you a lot about yourself and the rest of the world, too.

  5. rmiles says:

    Sounds like Parker has a pretty good Mommy to me and he trusts her to do the right thing for him. . . and you will because you love him and it is the right thing to do. Cheers to Parker! Wishing you strength and courage along this difficult road.

  6. Gaboo says:

    We live on a farm and each animal is precious and unique, each gives so much. It’s that virtue I learn from them–changed my life—and it keeps us opening the door to new strays. I was forwarded your link. Privileged to read your words. It’s tough, this journey.

    Just a smile to remind you the love they give will live on. It really does grow. Thanks.

    • FS says:

      Dear Gaboo: Thank you, and I can only imagine what life on a farm with animals is like. For all the pets in my life — past and present, I have learned that what you say is oh so true — each being is unique and the love and lessons and sharing live on and on.

  7. Jen says:

    No pretense, no judgment, overflowing with honesty and love, the greatest role models… Thinking of you and Parker (((hugs)))

    • FS says:

      Dear MS: Thank you… it’s one of those moments of paradox of feeling love and loss all at once, of having clarity, about the expanse and interconnectedness of love and heartache. (I read your posts ya know…)

  8. My heart goes out to you and your puppy dog. I lost a 17 year old Labrador and it was one of the hardest thing I think I’ve gone thru in my 44 years on this earth. Happy thoughts for an easy and peaceful time for you both.

  9. Brae says:

    I am left with a tear in my eye .. a huge big hug from a fellow dog loving lesbian in Scotland (((HUG)))

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