Two Sick Puppies
1 The /
1 Chihuahua /
2 and Michael /
3 are both under/
5 the weather. The former turned/
8 a backflip when she reached the end of/
13 her leash in hot pursuit of a squirrel. Her kneecap popped out of /
21 joint and does so now each time she jumps, leaps, pivots, or otherwise re-traumatizes herself. She's on anti-inflammatory drugs from the /
34 vet's office and strong pain meds from an actual drugstore, which required my social security number and labeled the pill container Laramie-Dog Smith. (Neither dog took my last name when we expanded the family.)/
55 She's been stoned for two days.
Her handmaiden, I carry her outside, set her in the grass, sit beside her, wait while she does or does not remember why she's there, pick her up, and deliver her back to my bed or to her cage. She's a jumping, leaping, dancing-on-her-hind-feet dog; thus the containment devices.
1 Last /
1 night /
2 Michael was /
3 virulently unwell. I /
5 fell asleep to the sound /
8 of his retching and was awakened at 2:30 /
13 when he asked me to fetch Pepto-Bismol and ginger ale. Off to Thornton's, /
21 the all-night gas station, where all of the ginger ale was chilled and a miniature bottle of the pink stuff cost
34 an arm and a leg. I bought two bottles of each and rolled home. Michael barely slept the rest of the night, but I reached dreamland by 3:30. Today he is pale /
55 and weak. Hungry, he's afraid to eat. Bored, he's too ill to read. Loud sounds -- Laramie barking, cell phone peeping -- echo into his very bones. I trust his malady is food poisoning because, if it's flu, only our yellow Lab will be left to take care of us.
When I was sick, Michael was tormented /
89 by ancient dreams and fear. He couldn't sleep, except in a corner chair in the radiologist's office, where other caregivers watched over him with love. When I rested, Laramie lay beside me hour after hour, her ten pounds of pressure an unexpected comfort.
Family is an excursion in unplanned-ness. I never imagined Michael, Koko, or Laramie; happenstance brought us together. What unites us? Koko upbraiding Laramie when she oversteps. Laramie hiding Koko's toys under the bed. Michael and I walking the dogs at night, in moonlight, snow, rain, heat.
by Mary Cartledgehayes