Friday, February 25, 2011

Over Time

Moto vs. the Checkered Flag
I had wanted a Dalmatian my whole life. Maybe it was a little girl thing. You sit there watching 101 Dalmatians over and over and of course you are going to fall in love with them. How could you not, they are one dog that can be pure bred and all look totally different, labs, rotwilers and most other breads have a pretty common resemblance but not Dalmatians.
I started looking locally. I looked up breeders, called every veterinary office and pet store in the state of Maine. I had no luck. I turned to the internet, something that I thought that I would never do. and seemed to be the most common places that came up in my searches. There were a few adult Dalmatians and a lot of mixed breed Dalmatians, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted a pure breed Dalmatian. I wanted one with black spots, not brown and certainly not lemon. I didn’t even know until my recent search that there was lemon spotted pure breed Dalmatians. I checked the site every day, sometimes twice a day. I even signed up for email notifications if someone posted a new ad on Dalmatians.
I opened an email that said there were a litter of pups up for adoption in Arkansas. I emailed the lady with a fast response she told me there were two males left and sent me a photo of the two. My husband and I looked and decided which one we wanted and emailed her back with deposit.
The pups were ready to go to their new home. The owner called me with the flight time. I would be picking him up at the Bangor Airport at seven. I never thought I would order a puppy through the internet. I had fears of a bad outcome, but had talked with the owners on several occasions and even though I was nervous I was also excited.
When I arrived at the airport I hurried to find out where I was suppose to pick him up. I finally saw this little crate that said “LIVE ANIMAL” well thank goodness it said live I thought. The security personal had me come into a little office and passed me the box. They had me sign a ton of spots on the paper work. Finally one lady told me that I could take him out of the box. He and I were happy to meet!
Naming him was hard. We wanted something unique but also cute. Spot of course crossed our minds as did Pongo. Then we wanted to stay with the motorcycle theme that we had for our other dogs. Harley my old girl and Fox our teen age boy. We liked the name Checkered flag. It was different and black and white, but try calling a checkered flag, just doesn’t sound right. So because my husband was a Dirtbike racer we decided on Moto, for motocross. I took him everywhere with me. He fit right into our home perfectly and the other dogs welcomed him. He was my baby and became my lap dog.
60lbs later he was still a lap dog. The minute I sat down in the evening to watch tv he jumped right up to cuddle. He was a needy do when it came to attention and exercise but he was adorable.
One morning I woke up to find him standing in the living room, leg was half cocked up and he was trying to pee. It was only a drip.
“What’s wrong buddy?” I asked him as I opened the door for him to go out.
I watched him through the window he stood there with just a small drip of pee going for 10 minutes or longer. He had a very sad look on his face. You could tell that he wasn’t comfortable. I called the vets office because when he came it he was just shaking all over. It scared me.
After dropping Moto off at the vets I returned 2 hours later like they had told me to. The results were a urinary tract infection and kidney stones. They removed what the vet called a gravel pit from inside his bladder. The stones needed to be tested to see what meds to put him on. He was in rough shape but feeling better now that the blockage was released and he wasn’t so full of pee.
A week later I got a call from the vets. Moto has a special case. He produces not only one kind of stone but two. He needs medicine and special dog food. This is going to cost you $96 a month are you willing to do this? There are other options they told me.
I gave him the meds and fed him his special food separate from the other two dogs. He didn’t seem to mind. He was a good boy. Of course I would do all I could for him, he was my baby.
Six months passed and it began all over again. The vet took him in removed the crystals that were blocking his urethra and home he came. He would jump right up in my lap and watch TV with me every night such a good cuddle boy.
Another two months passed and there I was taking him back into the vets. The Doctor wanted to meet with me this time. I wasn’t going to just drop him off and be able to come back and get him. This time was different. There had been so much damage and scaring from all the stones that he no longer could use his urethra. There were two options. Have him put to sleep or a major surgery. It was similar to a sex change and re routing his line of urine out a different hole. This would provide a larger passage for the stones to just pass.

After figuring it out financially and making a choice we went for the surgery. We were going to do all we could for this wonderful pup. He was barely 2 years old and should even have to go through this. He went in for surgery the next day. I waited by the phone. As soon as I was able to they let me out back to sit by his kennel for a while when he woke up. There was a lot of blood. They needed to keep him sedated for several days to help heal. I went in twice a day; I sat on the cold floor until they told me I had to go. I’d sit there poking my finger through the medal squares rubbing his beautiful spotted nose. His brown eyes stared at me and every now and then his tail would wag just a little.
The day arrived that he was able to come home. I was nervous. I took him out the car and let him pee before we left. I had never seen so much blood. I ran back into the vets. They said it was ok and normal and not to worry. Well I was scared to death.
We settled in and he slept. The other dogs just left him alone. It was like they knew what was going on. When he woke he ran for the door. He went out and peed and squirted blood all over the back yard. It was terrifying. It literally looked like a murder scene.
Time had passed and he had finally healed everything seemed wonderful. The only complication that he had was once and a while he would have a dribble. I didn’t care he was worth it.
The sun had just started to come up and I was restless. I felt the bed shaking and looked to see what my husband was doing. He was sleeping soundly. I looked around and found Moto shaking on the floor. I burst into tears. Why is this happening again? I let him out and there he was trying to pee. Since the surgery he peed like a female dog his legs were shaking so badly. I called the vet. They told me to put warm wt wash cloths over the hole to help release the crystals. It worked in less than an hour’s he was fine.
It was almost his 4th birthday when he began peeing blood. I kept my eye on it as he seemed fine other wise and that it might just be a stone that had caused problems. Two days went by and it was still happening. I feared the worse and was heartbroken. I arrived at the vets a little before noon. My husband was with me. The vet informed us that he could clean out all the stones and give him more meds but reality was it was going to keep happening. Moto looked up at me like he knew exactly what the vet had said to me. It was like Moto was telling me to let him go. He couldn’t do it anymore and he wanted peace. I could see it in his eyes. His eyes always had so much expression. My husband and I made the hardest decision that day. We kissed his nose and I held him tight around the neck while they gave him that dreaded injection. I cried so hard I nearly fell to the ground. I could even hear my husband sobbing. Moto didn’t put up a fight he licked my ear and then he was gone. It was the middle of winter but my husband was determined to have him buried at our home. With a pick axe and some other tools he buried him that cold winter day. It was the end of his race he had reached the checkered flag.


  1. Oh, manoman, why are you doing this to me, Stacey? I can't do sick dogs! I have an adored three year old dog with degenerative spinal disc disease and pretty soon, my wife and I will be in your last graf here, going through the same stuff.

    This is very well-handled, very clear, complete, focused. You give the reader a lot and by the end, we understand why: this is a memorial to or eulogy of Moto.

    It's a piece well-worthy of respect from this six-dog (currently) owner.

    But is it an autobiographical slice or is it a memoir of Moto? It feels more like week 5 than 6 to me.

    Arguing about that is part of what the week is about. To me, a piece that told your history with dogs would better hit week 6. Or a piece that narrowed your history with dogs down to the deaths of dogs you've had. But this is more Moto's story than yours. Argue back if you feel inclined; I'm happy to be convinced I'm wrong or to try again to convince you I"m right. From the clash of ideas, education all around is possible.

    You'll notice I haven't said the dreaded 'r' word, and I won't. The course is mostly about writing and improving writing, not so much about jumping through the little hoop I set up each week. So when I get a highly competent piece like this with nothing false or shaky about it, but a piece heading in a direction I didn't quite intend, I am still happy to take it.

  2. And you do nice things with the metaphor of racing and flags....