I was 17 years old.
In all of my 17 year old, the only pets I’d had were fish. And for those parents out there who want a no muss no fuss, easy to feed, replace em quick if they die kinda pet, fish are the way to go. But your children, they can’t play with fish. There is no bond, forged by years of play and duty. They will stare at the fish like they are the coolest thing since sliced bread, but only for so long. Then the fish die. And the cool part becomes getting to flush them down the toilet.
So back to being 17. I was 17 with a 20 year old boyfriend. This boyfriend was getting his own place…and he promised me a dog. He wanted a dog more for himself than for me, but I agreed to pay part of the cost to buy this dog and so he officially became “our” dog. We scoured the internet for a healthy and happy little puppy. We settled on a chocolate lab, but when Kevin finally agreed to buy the puppy, someone had already claimed the little brown guy. The woman showed Kevin the puppies that remained and he agreed to a yellow lab. He was too cute to turn away. I was at work the day Kevin went to pick him up, and he stood in the parking lot of Sobeys and held up this tiny, scared little puppy and my heart melted. I named him Mac. Over time…
…we cuddled together, he loves naps almost as much as I do…
…he was washed and groomed and pampered…
…and he learned who the people were that loved him, and followed them around, exploring this big new world…
Along the way, we had some rough times with Mac. He wen’t through his terrible twos quite early, and they lasted a long time. We’ve been happy, sad, dissapointed, frusterated, but he’s always been our boy and (thankfully) he’s grown out of chewing things.
For Mac’s first birthday, my Mom and I had a party. It was just me, her, Mac and Berks but it was cute :) She made him “cheesecake” and he loved his new toys. What’s amazing about Mac is that no one expects to fall in love with his cute little face and his hyper self, but everyone does. My mom is terrified of animals. And I mean terrified! But she loves Mac, and he loves her right back.
Mac is two now. He’s growing up, and getting so big! He is very smart, and knows a lot of tricks. He almost always listens except when people are just arriving or winding him up, but even then he’ll listen, it just takes a few more tries. He stays loose in our house all day while we’re at school/work/anything we do and we don’t have any issues. (Unless it’s the cat but that’s another story…) He’s grown into his huge puppy paws and is an awesome dog. He loves Kevin and they seem to have this bond, or a mutual understanding. They’re just two peas in a pod, or cut from the same tree or whatever.
“BABE THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG!!! SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MAC!”
This was my wakeup call at 6am on the 4th of November. When I got downstairs, I couldn’t even breathe. My heart was caught in my throat because I found Kevin on the floor, bleeding and soaked, and our baby boy, our Mac, thrashing around the living room floor, biting and paddling and foaming at the mouth. There was vomit and bowel excrements all over the floor and Kevin and I just looked at Kevin’s eyes and he said, “We have to do something.”
I called the ER Vet line and while I was on the phone with the sleepy veterinarian Mac slowly came out of his seizure. He tried to stand up and failed, but eventually regained enough balance to stumble to Kevin and whine. The vet said he was going to be ok, and that it was a good sign that he was coming out of it (duh?!). He was to go to the Animal Hospital as soon as possible.
In the effort of not keeping you all night, I’ll make a long story short[ish]. He had bloodwork done that came back normal and an exam that found nothing. It was a random seizure, hereditary – probably, and if he didn’t have another one after 1 month he probably never would. We could work with this! One month, no problem. He was fine! He’d never have another seizure and we would never have to worry about it. We just had to make it to the 4th of December.
On the 3rd of December, I woke up late (finally had a chance to sleep in!) around 10am. Mac was sound asleep on the bed with me, and Kevin was in Nova Scotia. I hopped out of bed and went into my office to check my emails before letting Mac out to pee and having some breakfast. I heard him plod down the stairs and figured he wanted to go outside, so I tried to hurry. Then I heard him throwing up.
I ran down the stairs as fast as I could, and he was there in the hallway. He looked at me and then fell over.
I cried, and cried. I screamed and then started telling him “it’s going to be ok Mac, it’s going to be ok, you’re ok, you’re fine…” and my hands shook as I searched the contacts in my phone for the Animal Hospital. The woman on the phone had to tell me to breathe before she could ask me my last name. My last name? It’s not the same as Mac’s. What is it again? She told me to bring him in as soon as I could. So then I called my Dad, and I was crying and yelling and he couldn’t understand me. Finally I yelled “IT’S YOUR DAUGHTER!” and he said “I’ll be right there.”
He came out of this seizure too, but it took longer. He tried to get up three times and each time he fell, hitting his head off of the wall. What started in the hallway ended up in the kitchen and I was a wreck. Once he came out of it I ran him to my car as fast as I could, because if he was going to have another one it was going to be in my car so I could get him to the Vet. He missed his 1 month window by 1 day. I ran back in the house and grabbed his leash and my car keys, and Dad pulled up with perfect timing.
This time the vet diagnosed him with epilepsy and prescribed phenobarbitol to try and control the seizures – for life, probably. She also reccomended we neuter him, which we will of the 15th. Kevin came home for the weekend, thank God because I am a basket case. I watched for 7 minutes while our baby boy tried to fight a monster, a monster that takes away all control over his body and his ability to understand and to recognize. If I wasn’t a pet person before, I’m a hundred times moreso now, and I think I’ve turned in to one of those overprotective, overbearing mothers. I am analyzing his every move, following him around the house. He’s probably only acting weird in response to me! But I just can’t help it. The logical me rationalizes everything he’s doing as normal, things he would do all the time pre-epilepsy, but the real me, the one without the tough mask on, freaks out if he’s not in sight.
When I was little, I always wanted a pet. And when I was 17, Kevin brought Mac into my life, and I thought I had everything I’d ever wanted. Many times in the last 2 years I’ve taken him for granted. I plan to make up for it many times over, for as long as we are blessed to keep him. If I look a little frazzled, please forgive me, and if I stare off at nothing please interrupt me. I think it will take some time before I’m not waiting to turn around and find Mac seizing on the floor. I didn’t ever want a pet with health issues, especially one so violent and horrible. But he is our baby boy and he has epilepsy. We love him, and always will.
PS. For those of you with pets, put your local Emergency Vet line number in your phone, or on your fridge, so you won’t have to Google it in a panic like I did, the first time.
*NOTE: On March 08, 2011 Mac had his third seizure. It began with gagging and then drooling saliva. The seizure started in his face and then he fell over and the seizure continued. Including the post-epileptic confusion the seizure lasted only 2 minutes. We are hoping it doesn’t happen again. It wasn’t supposed to happen again.*