Wednesday, November 11, 2009

And then there were eight

In order to clean out whatever it was that caused Quincy’s abscess, the vet explained she was going to have to perform surgery on his throat. It was complicated because of where it was. The throat isn’t like an arm or a leg.

The vet told us this, but she really needed to deal directly with the Humane Society. He was still their dog after all, we just supplied the house where he lived.

The director of the Humane Society wanted to see him. She wanted a second opinion, to check him over before a decision was made. Morgan took him in one morning while I was at work. I expected to hear from him, to find out how it went. What I didn’t expect was to see Morgan shortly after 10:00 in the morning, toting a box of kittens.

While he waited at the Humane Society, a woman came in with the kittens. They had been abandoned by their mother in a treehouse in this woman’s back yard. The Humane Society wouldn’t take them for jurisdiction reasons. Her only option was Animal Services but she didn’t want to take them there, sure they would be put down. A discussion ensued which Morgan listened to intently before finally offering to take them himself.

I’m not sure if he took leave of his senses at that moment in time, or if he didn’t think of the repercussions of such on act, but when he showed up that morning with the peeping, mewing box, I was speechless. I didn’t want a bunch of kittens. Sure, they were cute, but they were only about three weeks old. It was going to take a lot of work and care to keep them alive and then we had to find homes for all of them.

I was mad for about five minutes and then I picked up a tiny striped orangey-beige boy, who stretched up towards me from the box. What could I do? They were cute. It was at that moment I began to solidify my image as a sucker.

As for Quincy, the decision was made to do the surgery. Because it was the Humane Society the vet wouldn’t charge them full price for the operation. Partly, I think she was excited about having the opportunity to perform such a unique procedure.

In all of it though, Morgan and I were the middlemen, reduced to bystanders. We were told if things didn’t go well during the surgery, Quincy would be put down. That was a decision made between the Humane Society and the vet. We had no say in it. Of course we didn’t, he wasn’t really our dog, not on paper anyway.

It was a strange position to be in. We knew Quincy better than anyone else did and yet, if left to us, there was no way we could have afforded that type of surgery. So, we became invisible.

We felt helpless. How could they make that decision I wanted to know, when they don’t even know Quincy. They don’t know him at all, he’s just another dog to them. It was as though all the time we’d spent with him didn’t matter. We had become Quincy’s entire life but now our relationship was insignificant.

Of course, in retrospect, it was the only decision they could make, but at the time, it felt like they were stealing something from us.

We were determined to stay at the vet’s office during the surgery so we were there. Maybe we could intervene at the last minute, somehow get in the loop. We sat on a bench in the bright waiting room in front of the large windows where sun trickled in through the blinds and cast white stripes on our faces. We stared at each other and felt our world slip through our fingers. There weren’t many words exchanged, we both knew what needed to be done. If Quincy made it through this we were going to adopt him. No one would ever tell us again we had no say in what happened to our dog.

Eventually we did go home. The surgery would take a long time, they told us, and it didn’t make sense for us to stay. We left only after we were sure they understood we wanted to be called the minute anything happened, good or bad.

The day passed slowly, but we finally heard later that afternoon. Quincy made it through the surgery and was doing well. When we picked him up the next day, the vet explained to us what she had done. She spoke with a touch of pride; rightfully so. She performed laser surgery on his throat, very specific, intricate work. She was almost giddy as she showed us a diagram of a dog’s throat and how she went in and why it was not a straight-forward surgery. One wrong move and it could have been disastrous. The work she did was nothing short of amazing, however she wasn’t sure she got everything out.

We returned home with Quincy, again with instructions to keep the wounds open, though this time little rubber tubes protruded from four incisions in his skin for exactly that purpose. He couldn’t wear a cone because of where the incisions were, so we had to keep a close eye on him, make sure he didn’t rip out stitches or the tubes.

The very next day we went to the Humane Society to sign papers and make official what we already knew. Quincy was ours, holey neck and all.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting reading, Heather - avoiding easy melodrama, you capture, rather poignantly, both Quincey's risky medical situation and your momentary alarm at seeing Morgan snuggling up to 8 more animals.
    You have to read a Chapters' book "Inside a Dog" by Alexandra Horowitz, a dog scientist. She has remarkable insight into the mind of a dog.