Monday, November 9, 2009


Talk about a whirlwind. In the last 48 hours I went from the pseudo-normalcy I call my typical life to complete despair to relief and cautious optimism. Even for someone like me that's a lot of mood swings.

Our dog, Zeke, is 15-1/2 years old. I've had him since he was four months old. We've been through a lot together—work crises, roommate dramas, moving twice in two years, road trips, health crises, relationships good and bad—and through it all, he's been a source of constant unconditional love, as long as there's food in it for him. (After all, this is the dog who actually recognized the phrase "I'd like to place an order for delivery" about five years ago when we ordered Chinese food at least twice a week.)

As he's gotten older, he's slowed down a little bit at times, although at other times he gallops around the house like a miniature horse. Saturday morning started out like any other Saturday—he got his half a bagel (you can take the dog's owner out of Jersey but you can't take all of the Jersey out of the dog's owner) and he was his usual psyched self. And then at midday he started having trouble getting up on the couch, which was troubling for a dog who spends most of his day on the couch. The evening found him getting caught in the bathroom and stuck behind the toilet (as much as I'd like to believe his newfound zeal for toilet training, it worried me) and getting wrapped up in a cell phone charger cord.

And then the pacing began. Zeke kept circling around the ground floor of the house, round and round, never stopping to relax or lay down. After about 90 minutes of this and his refusal to come upstairs, we took him to the emergency vet around 12:30 am Sunday. Following some tests, the vet told us Zeke had something neurologic wrong with him—either a stroke or a brain tumor. Clearly neither spelled good news. They were going to keep him at the hospital until Monday, when he'd be sent for an MRI.

Needless to say, the outlook wasn't good and we were devastated. While when you have an aging pet you know in the back of your mind at some point you're going to be faced with saying goodbye, you're never quite ready to do so. And to have to make the decision is a Schindler's List-ian burden you never want to shoulder.

So today we took him for an MRI, which came back clear, and a spinal tap, which also came back clear. No stroke, no brain tumor, no encephalitis, no meningitis. Great news all. But of course, the question remains: what is wrong with Zeke?

Good question, that. Zeke is remaining at the vet one more night. They'll take some additional tests and try to pinpoint the cause of the sudden pacing and disorientation. But it certainly appears, unless something changes drastically again, that Zeke is coming home tomorrow. And given where I thought today would end, this is a resolution well worth the rollercoaster ride.

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