The Diagnosis, Part I

The Diagnosis

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I opened the door and followed the drops of blood with my eyes. The pups greeted me with a big yawn and stretch – all seemed well, but where Maya had been curled on the back of the sofa was spotted with fresh red blood.

Where was it coming from? I checked her body for puncture wounds and finding nothing I checked her teeth. Bleeding gums? A loose tooth? There was blood on the fur beneath her mouth. I called the vet and made an appointment to bring her in for a check up the next day. I was due for my own visit to the dentist. Now it was a matter of whose would cost more.

MAYA

I could taste the flavor of blood in my mouth after a good chew on my bone. My heart was beating hard against my chest and I knew this would make mom nervous. She’s noticed lately that it beats hard and fast even when I’m resting. I could see the concern in her eyes and knew it didn’t bode well for me.

SEAMUS

I rarely get left home alone with Tessa. Mom knows it makes me anxious and I can’t relax until they return. When mom put on Maya’s halter and lead her out the door my feet started tap, tap, tapping against the wooden floor. They could hear me howling, “Come back, you forgot to take me with you.” Tessa slide up behind me, “Chill, little Shih Tzu, just be thankful it’s not you going to the vet”. Sheesh, that’s how a cat tries to make you feel better.

Seamus in Ice

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After I dropped her at the vet I came back for Seamus. I could feel his panic from miles away. He was on the bed with Tessa when I returned, curled up tight until he heard the door open. He tumbled down the narrow stairs and asked about Maya. I strapped on his collar and led him out to the car.

MAYA

As far as terriers go I’m a pretty friendly Cairn; but by the time we got to the vets I hadn’t eaten or had any water in 17 hours. When mom left a lady started poking at my gums. My mood was getting darker by the minute.

SEAMUS

I knew we were going to find Maya. I can read thoughts, ya know, so can your pets by the way. When we got to the place mom left me in the car and went into the building. Dogs and cats were coming and going, I was barking and I could see mom pacing back and forth in the window. Something was wrong and I needed to be inside to help Maya.

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The young vet came out to meet me, a look of concern on her face. She shook my hand and said they could not administer anesthesia to Maya and clean her teeth. Actually, her gums looked fine and no teeth were loose. There was however something much more concerning and had I noticed any symptoms.

MAYA

The lady carried me out to the front and my dark mood turned ugly. Suddenly I saw a room full of pit bulls and giant black dogs drooling all over the floor. I was handed to mom and the restriction of her arms made me defensive. I snarled and snapped my sore teeth together like a demonic animal. I could feel mom recoil from my vicious energy and leaving the surprised and embarrassed looks behind she hustled me out the door.

SEAMUS

Mom came out carrying Maya and I could see that things had not gone well. Mom put her down to walk back to the car, just as a little old lady opened her passenger door and extracted a small white poodle who looked like she’d gotten into strawberry jam, both fore and aft. I tried to warn mom with a wailing howl, but it was too late. Maya and strawberry mouth met head on and the old lady almost had a heart attack when Maya took a flying Cairn leap into the air intent on landing on the poodles neck.

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I wasn’t thinking very clearly. I was trying to remember everything the vet had just told me. Maya has serious heart disease, she had said. All the options require extensive testing, a cardiologist and drugs for the rest of her life.  She’s still young, can live another six or seven years with the right treatment. I’d taken her out of the young woman’s arms and turned away before she could see the tears starting to rise. This was no time to get all emotional, not when Maya was ready to tear the heart out of a pit bull looking up at her snarling mug with a grin on his face.

MAYA

Ok, so I almost got hold of that weird looking pink poodle and I would have shaken her black and blue if mom hadn’t caught me mid-leap and carried me kicking and snarling to the car. She unlocked the door after taking forever to find the keys, and tossed me in next to Seamus. He was relieved to see me, but I was intent on letting Pinky know that if we meet again she is my strawberry dessert.

SEAMUS

Mom tossed Miss temper tantrum into the back seat and leaned against the side of the car.  I’ve seen people light up a cigarette at moments like these and take a deep inhale to calm their nerves, but that’s not my mom. Instead she stood out in the cold taking deep breaths in and exhaling slowly. After a few of these she got in and started the car. We were back on the road and heading home.

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No one said anything. Maya looked out the window, Seamus lay across the back seat and I tormented myself with guilt over what I might have done to cause my little girl to have heart disease. If home cooked meals, raw meat, veggies, healthy treats, plenty of love and exercise didn’t prevent heart disease then what’s the answer? I was determined to find out.

Winter Ice

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