Pain in the neck…

Last Thursday, S had to go out of town on a school field trip.  She was gone through Sunday evening which was ever so lonely for me.  But it was even lonelier for Emma, our lab.  When I say “our” I mean that we got her as a couple not long after our first anniversary.  But Emma really isn’t “our” dog, she is S’s dog in every way.  They have a bond that just doesn’t include me.  Sure, Emma will let me feed her, walk her and bathe her, but she doesn’t adore me like she adores S.  Emma tolerates me.  Although sometimes she doesn’t tolerate me because she will get up from a sound sleep and leave the room if I enter it.  She’ll accept a game of fetch from me, but she doesn’t come to me for affection. 

All of those things used to really bother me.  I was jealous.  After all, when we went to the Puppy Farm to get a dog, I picked her out.  She was rambunctious and fun and had a big splotch of mud on her side.  She was 14 weeks old and adorable.  And I had wanted a black lab forever.  S would have been perfectly happy with a mutt from the pound, but I really wanted a lab.  But from the minute we brought her home, she was S’s dog and I was merely a member of her staff.  Emma is kind of cat-like in that way.

When Emma was six, I saw an ad in the newspaper for free puppies.  S and I had finally moved into a house with a yard, so we thought we were ready for a second dog.  And the puppies were shep-husky mixes, which S really wanted.  When we drove out into the deep recesses of southern Ohio to check out the puppies, I figured we were just getting another dog for S.  But no, Rummy was “my” dog from the get go.  She follows me around all day long, comes to me for affection, comfort and cuddling.  She lights up when I walk into a room and is beyond excited when I return to the house from an outing.  I finally got to experience what S has gotten to experience with Emma.

All of this is the back-story to what transpired this past weekend.  Emma was quite sad with S away for the weekend.  I did my best to play with her and offer her copious amounts of treats but I couldn’t make up for S’s absence.  The first two days Emma was just sad but by Saturday she had started walking around the house with her head hung low like Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh.  She wouldn’t lift her head up to look at me or to take treats from me.  I posited that she was really depressed and had given up hope of S’s return.  It also hurt my feelings a bit that Emma was that woebegone even though she had me, a very attentive and loving human, right there trying everything to make her happy.

Well, S returned and Emma’s tail wagged at record speeds.  Seriously, she could harness her tail energy and solve our heating fuel crisis.  But her head still hung low.  It was still hanging low Monday morning even though Emma was getting all of the attention S could possible manufacture.  And it started to seem less like she wouldn’t  lift her head and more like she couldn’t  lift her head.  Couple that with a few of her claws being gushy and gross and we called the vet.  And when I say “we” I mean S because I really like to wait until there is no other option than calling the vet.  I am conceited enough to think that even though I did not go to vet school I can figure out what is wrong with my dogs.  Sometimes I am right, sometimes I am wrong.  And now that we have moved 45 minutes away from our vet and S refuses to switch to the vet that is 45 feet from out house, I am even more hesitant to call for an appointment.

The vet nurses seemed to think Emma needed to be seen right away and set up an appointment for that evening.  S still had a ton of paperwork to do, so she stayed home while Emma and I made the trek to the other side of the world.  I do not think this pleased Emma, but there was nothing I could do about it.  I have yet to decide whether I was happy when the vet told me that Emma was actually having neck pain and not in fact in a deep depression over having only me as a caregiver.  But I think I was.  Not that I want her to be in any pain, especially pain that lacks a concrete cause and pain that we are just guessing on how to ease.

So now Emma is on an antibiotic for her foot infection with special medicated wipes which I must use to wipe each and every nail, twice a day until the infection clears up.  She is also on an anti-inflammatory pain reducer and a muscle relaxer that I had to get at the people pharmacy.  All together, $170.79.  Having the vet say the cause is not depression: priceless.

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