Saturday 8 October 2011

Special Needs

One of the less intelligent agreements I entered into was to get a dog. Love can also delude and the euphoria can smear what would otherwise be a constructive, insightful, unsentimental decision-making process. One summer afternoon I arrived home to Salt standing in the kitchen doorway with a red kelpie puppy safely tucked under his right arm. Their smiles were as wide as the ocean.

I think I thought that all dogs were like Sam. Sixteen when she died, she was a beautifully overweight beagle. Sam was never far from us, she was calm, barked but once and surprised herself, and loved her bed as much as we loved her. Aside from having someone else iron while you’re watching telly, one of the most comforting visions is a dog fast asleep in their bed.

Emma arrived one week before we moved. Poorly timed is a kind analysis. She slept in our bedroom, I didn’t. My senses piqued, I smelt and heard her every movement. On the afternoon of her arrival I quickly noticed her back left leg, it looked skewiff. Salt couldn’t see it. My special needs assessment proved not only correct, but absolute. Emma started to scratch, chew, and gnaw at her wrists, and caused such eczema empathy that our vet adored her. As Emma gained weight, her back leg weakened. X-rays, wringing hands and nervous pockets, the specialist declared that he’d like to write an academic paper on Emma’s knees of which he’d never seen the like. We came home appreciative of Emma’s unique knees, but curious about how to help her. Let us know how she goes, he said.

Emma’s troubled knees disappeared, the daily cortisone heals her skin, and we’ve tested barking collars to sooth our relationship. She’s nothing like Sam, but Emma and Salt have a connection, and a love for one another that leaves Emma forlorn when Salt goes to work. I was warned more than once that having a baby is much like having a puppy, only worse. Nonsense. We joke, nervously, that Squid’s first words will echo her mother’s - Emma! Get on yer bed.

1 comment:

  1. I spat green tea out my nose as I read it...pity our pup doesn't have a salt...she just gets a continual barrage of 'stop barking'...brilliant love brilliant x