It’s so damn hard to be a good doggie Momma.
I’m very good with human children. I can usually tell when one is sick, or hurt, or coming down with a cold. A few times in my classroom teaching days, I was able to tell that a kid had a fever before the kid even complained.
But dogs are different. They don’t cry when they hurt and they don’t say, “Nonni, up!” when they are needy. You just have to try to figure it out, right?
Sometimes you can guess what’s going on, something not so much.
Take this morning, for example.
We were in our living room, bright and early, talking about the foot of heavy wet snow we’ll be getting today. We were making sure we are prepared in case the power goes out.
I was feeling anxious. I despise the cold, the snow, the sleet….especially when they come in the spring. I was also anxious about my daughter driving to work in the bad weather, six months pregnant and getting over bronchitis. I was worried about my granddaughter Ellie, who has had a cough all week.
And our old dog, Tucker the Wolf King, has been struggling with his back and spine and hips. He’s been in pain.
At least puppy Lennie seemed fine, and full of his usual energy.
But then Kate and Ellie arrived, and Lennie went into fits of excitement. He started his usual jumping up on Kate routine, running in circles, wagging his tail furiously. Everyone was talking at once, “Lennie, down!” “Ellie, let’s take your hat off.” “Can you leave early today?” The Wolf King was barking and Lennie was squealing.
It was your basic morning bedlam.
Suddenly, I looked over at the pup, and saw that he was having some kind of terrible back spasm. We had seen this happen to him a couple of times in the past, but it was never this severe. His back end was hunched and sort of curled forward, and his whole back end was sort of pumping forward and back, really fast.
He looked very uncomfortable.
Now, let me digress for a minute. Tucker, with his arthritic spine, sometimes makes the almost same motion, but with less vigor. His vet told us that it happens to Tuck when his back muscles go into a spasm. I massage his spine and his spasm goes away.
So, I grabbed little pumping Lennie and tried to massage along his spine. It didn’t help a bit. When I let go of his collar, the little guy started frantically licking at his private parts, or what’s left of them. He was neutered before we got him, we were told.
He kept on sort of nipping at himself and turning in circles and that back end just kept on pumping.
“Oh, no!” I said it out loud. “He’s in real pain! Oh, poor baby!”
Paul joined in and so did Kate. We all thought Lennie was suffering from some terrible crazy muscle spasm or seizure or something. We were so worried!
We all looked at him and his pumping backside. He started to bite the tip of his tail and run in circles.
I grabbed him as he raced past me, and decided I should check his undercarriage.
Holy hard as a rock, Batman, the little guy’s niblets were like steel.
This is the part where I have to confess to complete idiocy, but at least my husband and daughter are as dumb as I am.
At the base of his fully erect little doggy rocket, there was a huge, hard, round mass, about the size of a golf ball.
Did I mention that he’s been “fixed”? You know, altered. Neutered. Deballified. There should not be a big, hard, round mass where his testicles used to be, I thought.
“He has a tumor!!!!” Was my first comment. Or maybe my second, after I quickly pulled my hand away from his altogethers.
We called the vet. Paul got dressed in a hurry to take him in. I cuddled the poor little boy, feeling overwhelmed with worry. As I stroked his neck, I noticed that he seemed to be slowly relaxing and feeling just fine.
The little rocket went back into its socket, and the golf ball disappeared.
So. Paul took the pup to the vet, who examined him thoroughly and calmly announced that what we has witnessed was a “natural hormonal response to excitement.”
The little guy got kind of worked up from all the joy of greeting Kate and Ellie.
The vet suggested that we find a way to get him some doggy playdates so he’ll learn how to control himself a little.