Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

What they hear coming over the fields*

on 9 August, 2012


That little guy over there? Yeah, that’s my dog, Skip. Yes, like the movie, although that’s not where I got his name from. His name, chosen by my first class at That School, came from the Skippyjon Jones books, a particular favourite in our classroom that year.

I know lots of people don’t like chihuahuas. I didn’t either, until my friend Lauren got one for her daughter, and I fell in love with that teeny-weeny-black-and-white ray of sunshine named Lola. When I finished grad school, my mom said that her gift to me was a dog, of my choice, when I was ready. A year later, I picked a 10-week-old, 1 pound Skip up from his breeder. (For the record, his breeder is GREAT, raising beautiful healthy dogs with great care and knowledge.)

I never wanted (and I try really hard not) to be one of those crazy chihuahua women. Skip doesn’t travel in a purse, he walks on a leash. I don’t dress him up in outfits, but he does have sweaters for our Canadian winters. No rhinestone collars — he has a cool, sturdy, comfortable, harness for walks and adventures. He loves to be outside, lounging in the sun or charging up a trail. He can hike for hours through forests and up hills and across creeks (he even started swimming this summer), although he gets a little nervous in really tall grass. Who can blame him? I’d be scared, too, in grass that was 3 times as tall as me. He retrieves like a… well, like a retriever, and will drop his toys at your feet and whine until you throw them. He is cautious, but NEVER aggressive with new people. He only barks  if he thinks there is an intruder in whatever area he has deemed to be our home. He loves blueberries and will paw at me for a bite of an apple.

I’m not going to turn this post into a narrative of my dog’s health issues, but the relevant facts are that, when he was a year old, Skip started having seizures, and the effectiveness of the usual anti-seizure drugs has been moderate-to-poor for him. After 3 years of working with my regular vet to control his episodes, she referred me to  a specialized dog neurologist. (As in a neurologist FOR dogs, not a neurologist who IS a dog, because I’m sure you needed that cleared up.) I was happy to pay for the consultation, but I knew in advance that the diagnostic tools he would likely recommend were beyond my means. My financial resources for dealing with this are not bottomless.  We saw the neurologist last week. As I expected, he strongly recommended an MRI, and possibly a spinal tap.  This came to a couple of thousand dollars worth of tests, with no guarantee that they would show anything meaningful. I don’t have a couple of extra thousand dollars laying around. The doctor’s words were gentle and simple: “Go home. Decide what you CAN afford to get a diagnosis, and what you can afford for ongoing treatment. Call me tomorrow. We will work something out. I feel like I can help your dog. This is not about the money.”

His words, when shared with my mom, prompted her to offer further generosity: a gift of however much money was necessary to bridge the gap between my funds and what the vet could offer. It’s really hard, as a 30-something professional, to accept money from your mom.

I cried at the vet’s office (they must be used to that, right?), and at my mom’s offer. I cried again when I accepted this gift from both of them. I’m crying more as I write this, at the end of a long day spent waiting to hear that Skip had gotten through both tests and the associated anesthesia.  I cried on the phone when the vet said that all follow-up appointments will be free of charge. I am so…  Grateful isn’t a big enough word for this one. I am (and have always been) grateful for the little, still-slightly-stoned, dog currently dozing in my lap. But this gift (which, more than likely, will bring a diagnosis which will lead to fewer seizures AND fewer drugs for my little partner in crime)… I don’t have the words.

So, over here, where I posted about how hard it is to accept generosity, THIS is what I was talking about. This has been a tough one, to let 2 people — one a virtual stranger, and one who loves me most in the world — give me something that, strictly speaking, is not a necessity.

So, I’m breathing deep, saying lots of thank-yous, and trying to remember that generosity is easy to GIVE – when I am generous, I MEAN it, I WANT to do it, I WANT the other person to accept. I have to trust that this is equally true, for my mom and this amazing guardian angel of a vet.

Because Skip and I have lots more adventures waiting for us.

*Dogs and Thunder, by Sarah Harmer

10 Responses to “What they hear coming over the fields*”

  1. […] Skip in my life has put me on the receiving end of far more generosity and kindness than I ever would have believed. To everyone who was rooting for him: thank you. There […]

  2. […] got Skip as a healthy puppy, from an excellent breeder, who still keeps in touch and stands behind her […]

  3. […] Skip, the ridiculous epileptic chihuahua. […]

  4. How wonderful that this came together through the two very generous people in your life! I know it’s hard to accept such big gifts. I’m glad things are on their way to improving for your Skip!

  5. Megan says:

    Hello Miss Amy! So glad you and Skip and receiving such generosity. Sounds like you have a great vet. Those are my favorite 🙂

    Sidenote: I replied to your email – so good to hear from you. I hope I didn’t migrate into your spam folder again, but then again, how would you know to look for me there? So I am checking in here. Hope we connect soon!

  6. Betsy says:

    So glad to hear how this story ended and continues. And…I love that you go hiking with a chihuahua! Best of luck.

  7. Melva Herman says:

    What a beautiful story, you brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for you and Skip! I’m sure if there was a log he’d be on it the way you describe his adventurous spirit.

    • Miss Night says:

      Thank you so much, Melva. Skip and I once did a hike involving a swinging rope bridge, and he was MUCH braver than the big chocolate lab behind us – I’m sure a log wouldn’t faze him at all!

  8. Faige Meller says:

    Heart wrenching. Often times it is easier (or more comfortable) to give than receive, Hope things work out well and Skip can go on great walks with you.

    • Miss Night says:

      Thank you, Faige. Skip is back to himself today – woke me up early demanding to be fed and is currently wrestling with his teddy bear. He has a good life, this little dog of mine!

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