My dachshund looked drunk. And for a dachshund, a breed prone to spinal issues, a collapsing of the back legs can be a death sentence. I rushed him to the ER, and he was immediately admitted to ICU. I got in my car, alone, and sobbed loud angry cries of “No! Not yet, not yet. I’m not ready yet.”
It really forces you to draw your own character into question when a 5-year-old 16-pound weiner dog who was abused and abandoned as a defenseless puppy is braver, stronger, and more courageous than you are. He was disoriented and uncomfortable, likely in deep pain that he refused to show anyone, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him. He soldiered on. He believed. I would have been ashamed of myself upon realizing this, but I was too bogged down in my grief. Thankfully Phineas just smooched my face before the nurses took him back, and got down to the business of healing.
The sad and subconscious deal you make with the devil when you adopt a dog is that you are very likely to outlive him or her. At some point, they will cross over and your life will go on in this plane without them. I try never to think about this fact. When I do, it overwhelms me like a mammoth wave of brackish water. I feel sick, lonely, and afraid. I’m usually able to pull myself back from the ledge, but with Phineas facing a grim prognosis in ICU two days ago I was helpless against the wave. It batted me around good and hard until it coughed me up, face first on the scratchy sand. Just stab a knife through my heart and turn it. It hurt that badly.
I was preparing myself for the worst. And in his typical stubborn style, Phineas refused to follow my lead. He wasn’t going down that dark path I set for myself, and for him. No, he was going to carve his own path. He went his own way. Screw the odds. That little guy is fighting, to be well, to live, to be whole and happy, and to be with me. The thought of giving up never crossed his mind.
I woke up several times in the middle of the following night sobbing. I’m glad it was dark because I’m sure I looked hideous. I’ve never been a pretty crier. I don’t trust anyone who is. I’m quite certain my guts were on the outside of my body after each crying fit. I buried my face into one of Phineas’s blankets and somehow fell back into a shallow sleep. Around 7am I phoned the hospital to see how he did overnight. He’d done it; he had begun to respond, very slowly but steadily, to medication and rest and the prayers that friends and family have been saying nonstop since I took him to the hospital. He took all of that goodness in and used it to his advantage. I was shocked. The doctor was shocked. Phineas was not.
Throughout the following day, he continued to climb out of the abyss I had relegated him to. He walked a few feet, slowly and with some difficulty, but all on his own. He took oral pain medication without getting ill. The door to the kennel where he’s staying has a sign that says “will bolt”, meaning that if a nurse isn’t careful when he or she opens the kennel door Phin will dive right out of the kennel with the IV flapping behind him so that someone will play with him. Just call him The Unsinkable Phineas Brown. He’s not ready yet, either. That’s one thing we both agree on.