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Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Like most people across America, we had great expectations of a Christmas season spent with family—watching the delight in the kids’ eyes when they opened the gifts they’d wished fervently for, overeating at numerous family gatherings, reflecting anew on the holiness of Jesus’ birth. And according to our plan, we dropped our little dachshund, Zelda, off to be boarded two days before Christmas, loaded the SUV, and headed out. We did have a great time: first at the nursing home party where my mother-in-law now lives (She looked radiant in the brightest red lipstick I’ve ever seen), then on to my dad’s where we enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve. Christmas dinner at my sister’s house was yummy. Turkey and dressing always taste better when someone else cooks it, don’t you think? Thanks, Marsha! Another round at my sister-in-laws on Saturday. Four days of laughing, eating, playing games. Thanks, Chet, Leslie, and Avery! Christmas met all our expectations and more.

Home on Sunday. We enjoyed nice dry roads until we were about fifty miles from Tulsa when we encountered the first of many stretches of ice and snow and arrived home to the remnants of Tulsa’s unexpected white Christmas (a horrific blizzard according to those who live here).

The house was quiet and didn’t seem quite right without Zelda curled under her blanket on my lap, but I looked forward to picking her up the next day and spending the next few days getting ready for company (Act II of the holiday gatherings) on New Year’s weekend.

Monday morning, the vet called while I was still contemplating getting out on the ice-rutted streets to pick up Zelda. “Uh, Mrs. Stewart, I’m afraid there’s been an accident.” A million things rushed through my head in the next few seconds as he went on to explain that on Sunday, while he was taking Zelda out to potty, she switched directions between him and the snow drift in the play yard, and he fell on her. “She’s just bruised, but wanted you to know before you picked her up what to expect.”

I had expected to be met with the usual dash into my arms and puppy slobbers, but now I had a bad feeling. I took her home, and poor Zelda hopped on three legs onto the grassy area that Max had shoveled for her. I held her the entire day. And the next. She didn’t complain much, only the occasional whimper when I touched a tender spot, but I also knew she wasn’t getting better.

Wednesday morning we were back at the vet. X-rays. Then the bad news. Her pelvis was fractured in two places. The vet felt terrible—first that he had fallen on her to start with and then that he hadn’t x-rayed her in the beginning. I felt bad, too. And so did Zelda. The surgery to wire her tiny bones together went well, and I brought her home on Thursday with pain pills, a plastic collar that looked like an upside down funnel framing her normally happy, but now confused face, and instructions that she had to remain confined for a minimum of four weeks.

It’s been almost a week since her surgery, and she’s doing as well as can be expected. I give her a break from her crate periodically and let her cuddle on my lap. And of course, I have to carry her outside to do her business. She gets a pill twice a day wrapped in smoked turkey, and will, in time be the spunky, mischievous critter we dropped off at the vet two days before Christmas. I know there’s a lesson in here on forgiveness and grace, and I must say I’m not harboring ill feelings, but what I’m feeling most is gratitude that the smile has returned to Zelda’s eyes and she’s back to thumping her tail when I talk to her.

Life can throw us some strange curves, but now that the crisis has passed, it’s time to get back into the routine and engage in what I expect to be a productive year in 2010. That’s the plan. Let’s hope for the best.
Zelda with our grandson during happier days last summer.


Erica Vetsch said...

Oh, I'm so glad she's expected to make a full recovery! I'd be beside myself if something happened to Pookie that way. The vet must feel very bad about it all.

carla stewart said...

Thanks, Erica. Life is pretty fragile, you know. Max and I are both pretty attached to Zelda so this has upset our routine. She will be okay, and I feel really bad for the vet. It was a freak accident, and he loves all the animals he takes care of. He knows I don't blame him. It could've happened here just as easily.

Cindy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Koala Bear Writer said...

Aww, that's too bad! Glad to hear she's doing better, though. Hope she continues to recover well. :)

carla stewart said...

Thanks, Koala Bear Writer. She's on the mend and keeping her still might be the biggest problem now.

Myra Johnson said...

Or else her biggest problem might be getting accustomed to that "turkey treat" every day! So glad she's on the mend. When my doggies hurt, I hurt!