Yesterday was a rough one for our household. As the temperatures climbed to above 85 degrees, Wyokiddo and our dogs sought refuge in the water. We headed to a local reservoir to play in the shallow water and enjoy the beautiful spring day. We splashed, sang songs and even got to see our first painted turtle up close.
But when I went to unload the dogs from the covered bed of the pickup, I noticed something was wrong with Roxy, our 10-year old lab/German shepherd cross. She didn’t want to get out of the pickup and was hanging her head to one side. I reached for her and she snapped at me. This is same dog who seeks out the preschooler to play dress up.
I looked her over and noticed her ear was bleeding and her face was starting to swell up. A knot started to form in the pit of my stomach when I realized she’d likely been bitten by a rattlesnake.
Snakes are an unfortunate reality in our corner of the world. We live with them, watch where we step and avoid the tall grass when it warms up each spring. But in allowing the dogs to roam free as we played, I’d inadvertently put them at risk.
After a brief consultation with Outdoor Guy, Wyokiddo and I loaded back in the pickup and hauled into town to our local vet. By the time we reached the vet 20 minutes later, the swelling had reached Roxy’s neck. To my untrained eye, she acted as if she were in shock.
The wonderful vets at Goshen County Vet Clinic took care of us immediately. They agreed with my snakebite assessment and took Roxy back for immediate treatment. When the doctor told us Roxy would have to stay the weekend at the vet clinic, poor Wyokiddo welled up with tears.
Oh God. This whole time, I’d been worrying about the dog and dealing with my fear over my dog. I hadn’t stopped to consider all of it through 4-year old eyes. The vet and vet tech gave us every reason to be hopeful, but warned that some dogs don’t make it. We said goodbye to Roxy, just in case, and left the clinic in a somber mood.
I stopped at the soda shop thinking a cool treat would life our spirits. As we waited in the drive-through, Wyokiddo asked “Mama, where is Roxy’s favorite place to be?”
“I don’t know kiddo. I think anywhere we are is her favorite place. Why?”
“In case she dies. I want to put her ashes in her favorite place.”
I lost it. Right there, in the AJ’s drive-through, tears spilling down on my waiting cash. This poor kid has seen and processed too much death, I thought. Her grandpa, two dogs and pet fish, all in less than 18 months.
“Please don’t let her lose this dog, too,” I prayed silently. “This should not be how we have to say goodbye.”
So we talked some about how Roxy was in the best place she could be, being cared for by animal doctors who knew just what to do. Wyokiddo settled into her drink. I wiped away tears and tried to get it together for my kid.
When I laid Wyokiddo down for a nap, she asked if we could pray to God to keep Roxy safe and help her get better. “Sometimes it helps to talk to God, Mama. That’s what you told me.”
I stand in awe of this beautiful little soul.
Thankfully, when we called the clinic in the morning, they said our sweet old dog was up, wagging her tail and ready to come home. Mama, Wyokiddo and even the stalwart Outdoor Guy were happy to greet her a few hours later. Tonight, she’s resting comfortably but still a little swollen. Wyokiddo is snuggled in next to her daddy, content and happy now that her best dog is home. It’s a sight more beautiful than anything I could imagine.