Bella, my blue-eyed cattle dog, had been acting strangely. Always a good girl, she started chewing up pillows, strewing stuffing-guts all over the back yard. At seven years old, this new behavior made me wonder, and made me glad that, following a recent purchase of four pricey pillows, I had a change of heart, returning them for some that were less expensive.
I considered that we had two new house guests and thought, perhaps, my pup might be jealous. I’ve heard dogs can become afflicted with the green-eyed monster when new babies arrive. So, I sat Bella down and asked. She stared at me lovingly, but wouldn’t say.
The pillow carnage continued. Then, I got a frantic e-mail at school. “Bella’s hurt! She’s crying! What should we do?”
I’m lucky that the folks I work with are animal people. “Go! Go! We’ve got you covered.”
I roared home, picturing all kinds of awful scenarios. I was greeted by Bella, whining miserably, hugging her back leg tightly to her body. When I tried to check the injury, she screamed like she was being electrocuted. I called the vet.
“Keep her calm. Don’t let her move around. We’ll see her in the morning,” the receptionist said.
At 8:00 a.m., Bella and I faced the vet. She frowned. “Looks like she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament,” she said.
Visions of NFL players with wonky knees played in my head.
“Or she could have a fracture. Either way, she’ll probably need surgery.”
The American Express card in my back pocket poked me. “And how much would that cost?” Memories of my year-long financial adventures with Westin the cat still fresh.
“Two to three thousand,” she said. “First, we’ll need to get some x-rays and do some blood work, because she’ll need some medication.”
Understand that I love my dog. Some of you might think ill of me for considering the cost too dear. Bella popped her head onto my lap. I thought about asking if it would be cheaper to amputate. I’ve seen three-legged dogs that do quite well. But I couldn’t bring myself to ask, lest she think me a monster.
The vet bent down, and the moment she touched my sweet dog, Bella screamed. She squirmed and whined when the doc tried to examine her mouth and leg, and forget about that thermometer in the butt.
“We’ll have to sedate her to get the x-rays.”
Forty minutes and $641.00 later, the vet reappeared with my sleepy dog, who was recovering from anesthesia.
“Well,” she wrinkled her brow. “Her ACL is fine and no fracture, either.” Did the vet seem disappointed? “But we’ll send the x-rays out for another look. And we’ll get her on some anti-inflammatories and pain meds.”
Bella came home, the front leg where they’d inserted the anesthesia needle wrapped in a purple bandage sporting gold sparkles. After a pain pill, she wandered dreamily to my bedroom.
The next day, Bella’s leg was much better. The vet called in the evening with the news that there was nothing – nothing! – wrong with my dog. I squinted at Bella, who was sprawled on my bed.
“Keep up with the anti-inflammatories for five days. Sorry you had to spend so much to find out she’s OK.” The vet seemed genuinely apologetic.
In retrospect, I realize it could have been much worse. Still, the $641 bill rankles. All for a simple diagnosis: my dog’s a drama queen.
Anne Montgomery’s novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other? The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.