"Will she be okay?", she shakily asked the nurse.
"All I know is that the doctor is performing CPR right now."
"But is she gone? What's going on?"
The tech assured her everything was being done that could be done.
Then Ivy and I were whisked off into Examination Room 2 (Whisk is not an applicable term for Ivy at the vet; it's more of a scrape. I'm whisked off and Ivy is then dragged in while she puts up a fight, digging her little heels into anything that has some sort of traction, which really isn't to be found on the slick linoleum floors of a pet hospital).
What had completely transpired to cause the emergency wasn't clear to me, but what was clear was that this was a sad, sad Tuesday. The woman in the flip-flops could now be heard inside the vet's office. And what was heard hit me right in the solar plexus.
"Oh, no. Oh, please, please. Anything! Can't you do anything?" The grief, the tears, the think emotion rippled across the hallway and into our exam room. "oh, God. Oh, my God ... my beautiful little baby" Her sorrow caught in her throat, her sobs hurt my heart. Something small and lifeless was brought into the office, wrapped in a lavender sheet, and placed on a metal table. The door completely closed while the sobbing increased.
And all I could do was cuddle my beagle. My happy-crazy-sweet-neurotic-funny-dour little beagle who means the very world to me.
"I love you, Ivy," I trembled. "Now don't you make me cry, you nut." Ivy calmed down. Not sure if it was the quiet of our exam room, my holding her, or her sensing I was the one needing comforting now.
It's Thanksgiving week and, although I've been working with gratitude every day for months now, giving thanks this week seems extra-deep, somewhat melancholy, rather moving. Gratitude has a deeper hue this week, a stronger perfume. And, at that moment this morning, the perfume was the slightly musky scent I encountered while burying my nose into my beagle's black,tan and white ruff.
We've always had beagles, and only beagles, save for Taffy, who was a beagle-terrier mix ("That's why she isn't too bright," my Mom used to say. "A beagle would know better."). And while holding and cuddling and thanking God for my little beagle girl this morning (whose exam went fine, just so you know), I quickly made a mental review of all the wonderful beagles I've had the pleasure of sharing a space with. Not owning. Beagles are not owned. Way too willful for that nonsense.
It began with Tootsie, our first beagle back in 1969. Well, actually it really began with Snoopy, the "Peanuts" canine star who made the breed hugely popular in the 60s, and who I adored and felt an immediate kinship with after my first viewing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas". But Tootsie was our first 3-dimensional beagle, who I named after the chewy candy, because she had a barrel of a tummy that looked like one. Mom fed her way too much and Tootsie became a Family-Sized Tootsie roil pretty quickly. She was smart, aloof, and wasn't much of a cuddler, but she was my first pup, so she will always have the fresh, first pup cache.
Then came the aforementioned Taffy, who we got for free in the mid-Seventies from a young couple who had to give her up because the landlord of their UIC-area apartment wouldn't allow dogs. Taffy had a wiry coat, a silly face, and little flipped ears that made her seem as though she was in a perpetual state of "Huh?". She also had a propensity to get into things she shouldn't have, and, yes, she didn't seem too bright. But she was a good Stan Laurel to Tootsie's Oliver Hardy.
Next, in the early 80s, came Penny. We gave her that name because of the circular tan spot on the very top of her head, "where the angel kissed her", my Mom said. I remember when Mom brought her home from the shelter. She made a mad dash and flew up onto the sofa where I was reclining and reading, and proceeded to shower me with kisses. Penny was a lemon beagle: white and tan, but mostly white. As she got older, she was almost entirely white. Penny died from complications from an infection following an emergency hysterectomy. My Mom fed her cooked chicken which (there was no way to know this for sure) possibly made her sick and, sicne her immune system was compromised, that was that. Mom never forgave herself for possibly poisoning her. And Mom was never the same after that.
Fast forward several years and enter Mabel, our inaugural 21st century beagle, who we got from BREW (Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare). Mabel was found abandoned somewhere in Ohio, had had mammary tumors, was about 6 years old, and was very, very shy, damaged, and unsure. Mabel was probably mistreated by a woman, because she never completely trusted me, no matter what I did for her. I recall one day, sitting on the floor with her, holding her and asking her, "Why can't you love me?" through a cascade of tears. Mabel died of canine lymphoma. The day before she died, we took her to the forest preserver and took her photo at the far end of a bridge. We didn't know it would become her rainbow bridge.
And now there's Ivy, who we also rescued from BREW, although now they've got the moniker of Midwest Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare and can be found here: http://gotbeagles.org/ In some ways, the other dogs were a kind of proving ground for Ivy. Because she's smart and sometimes aloof like Tootsie, a little goofy like Taffy (She's a puzzlement; I'm still not convinced she's a scent hound. She'll pass up obvious stinky treats right in front of her because she gets too wound up looking for the thing), a sweet angel like Penny, and nervous like Mabel, with the same horrible separation anxiety. Ivy is all that, plus blessed by a special kindness and gentleness that I've rarely seen in such a little one. And she draws people to her. She can be in a throng of beagles, and people will go straight to her, pick her up, and remark about her beauty and sweetness. She's got this "it" factor. In some ways, she's more of a beagle superstar than Snoopy.
Those are the beagles I've known and loved. Ivy is the present. I don 't know who'll be in the future. And, right now, I'm grateful for every snuggle, every odd little snort, every awkward doggy dance (due to her adorable bowed legs). The present with Ivy is just that: a golden, true, god-sent present.
|Ivy amidst the hydrangeas.|