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Canine Crisis, Chapter 3

So we took Maddie to Wizard of Paws. I expected a field with dogs in various states of rehab: retired greyhounds trotting around a track, a shallow pool with black labs lounging, two Chihuahuas on pillows (pool-side), surrounded by Taco Bell wrappers.

But I forgot about the whole “we don’t board dogs” part. (Except for Maddie).

Wizard of Paws is a PT clinic like any for humans (located in a pseudo strip mall) with therapy tables, foam rollers and balance boards.

When I walked in with Maddie (in my arms), there was a boxer walking in the aqua-therapy tank. A DOG was walking (and barking proudly) on a treadmill in a whirlpool.

I introduced myself and put Maddie down on the wood floor. She dragged herself toward the exit.

Deb (the owner) greeted me and was nonplussed by Maddie’s condition. “No problem. We’ll take care of her.”

I nervously explained, “Here’s her food, medication, do you want me to show you how to express her bladder, <<more on that in chapter 3>> I’m sure you’ve done it, but shall I demonstrate, oh, she gets along fine, sorta, with other dogs, and I brought this t-shirt for her to sleep with…”

“No problem.”

“Yeah, but I’m dumping this gimpy dog on you, and you don’t even board dogs.”
“Hey, Gavin. Don’t worry. This is what we do. We got it.”

She gave my arm a reassuring squeeze. This was like Ellison’s first day of preschool.

My partner came in with the boys to pat Maddie bye-bye. Ellison was like, “peace out, dog” and then, “Daddy!” as he picked up a plastic dog skeleton by the hind leg. “What’s this?”

Colton knocked over a pyramid of small therapy balls.

Maddie now tried to claw away from her family and further into the clinic.

The exercising boxer started barking and a woman couldn’t get her Saint-Bernard-sized dog to shut up.

Oh, God. Leave. Have to leave ,now. Sorry, Maddie. We’re institutionalizing you. Peace out.

Over the next eight days, Deb sent pictures of Maddie standing in the hydro tank (miserably), standing on a therapy ball (miserably), and receiving laser therapy (sleeping). But the point was: she was standing (with help) and more relaxed than at home.

I tell ya: not having to deal with her pee/poo (while trying to keeping the boys away) and feeling tremendous guilt over NOT giving her therapy was a god-send. Everyone was better off.

The night before picking Madi up, I called Deb.

“So? How’s she doing?”

“She’s making baby steps. But she’s improving.”

“So…she’s taking small steps?”

“No. But she’s reacting to pain and can stand, with help…in water.”

“But…only with help,” I clarified.

“Well, yeah.”

“Um…” I didn’t know what else to ask. “Do you think she wants to get better? Does she have a fighting spirit?”

“Oh, definitely,” Deb responded. “No signs of depression. Her appetite is fine. She doesn’t seem frustrated or sad.She’s living with a new normal.”

Uh…this better not be her new normal. Don’t be getting used to it, Maddie, or…

But what I really said was, “So you think it’s cool to take her home?” I secretly hoped she’d say, “Leave her over Thanksgiving.” (I’m sure that’s just what Deb wanted…another dog for the holiday.)

“Yeah. But if you want me to take her back, no problem,” Deb said.

There was no mention of Maddie being the clinic favorite or being the sweetest, coolest dog in the clinic. (I’m such a needy actor, but the animal hospital in NYC had voted her “favorite dog.” I wanted the streak to continue.)

To be continued. Not manipulating you…I’m just too wordy. And you need to get some end-of-year things done. But I promise: we’ll talk about doggy bodily functions…from a new angle. The back side. Happy New Year!

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