October 11, 2010 § 3 Comments

Angela had the salad with avocado and fennel at Gitane. I had the arugala, which was good, but hers looked better. That was Thursday.
It’s Monday now, and Scout has been spinning all day long, madly, with one short break for an hourlong nap. When I took him with me in the car to buy the fish this evening, he shat in his crate in the backseat.
OK, so it wasn’t fennel. My mind hasn’t been right lately, and I gave the name of something I know nothing about, to something I have a lot of experience with, and love. Still, when I was driving out to the North Fork on Friday morning, I was determined to make that avocado and fennel salad.
Somewhere along the line, a vet (not mine) told me that brain tumors in dogs aren’t painful. She said at least I didn’t have to worry about that. At the time, I believed her. More and more I grok that we see what we want to see, and we pretend we don’t see the rest, to the point that we actually don’t. Scout, as I wrote that last sentence, tripped over his own feet, and fell so hard that the floor shook. He has a scab on the inside of his back leg the size of a whole fennel, from rubbing his legs together while he spins.

Scout about to clonk his head on the wall while he spins

Fennel sure does look weird. I googled it, and the google police reminded me that anise comes from fennel. What was I thinking? Avocado and licorice salad? I don’t think so. Once again, my mind climbed the hill of reality like an Indian truck, puffing and honking, shit flying out the windows. I can not see reality clearly. I googled Gitane: it wasn’t avocado and fennel—it was avocado and endive. Not only that, but the thing I’d bought at the farmstand wasn’t even fennel: it was kohlrabi. Kohlrabi?
Two nights ago, I locked Scout in the bathroom so that I could get some sleep, laying down a comforter, his funky old beddie, and this designer bed I bought him in toille that he has about as much interest in as he does in kohrabi. I turned on a nightlight. I waited until he was spinning in his own world, and I shut the door.
Usually LB is around on the North Fork, and we go out to dinner. Lately we’ve been having dirty martinis and trying little plates of things (baked garlic, bbq clams) on the menu at Noah’s which has no right to charge community members tourist prices, but does. LB has been busy in the city, though, so she’s not around, and neither is Julia, after that nice day with the flying salsa turned into a train wreck. So I’ve been dining alone, if you don’t count the the sick and spinning dog.
He never went to sleep. He was like a baby who refuses to be Ferberized: If he were going to live, he’d grow up to never expect to have his needs met. He spun and spun and spun, and crashed into the walls over and over, and flapped the toilet seat and spun the squeaky toilet paper holder. He scratched on the bathtub and bumped the hollow closet door. I was with him, in my mind’s eye, every step of the way. The next night it happened again. In the morning I woke up sympathetically nauseated. I called my vet in the city.

I love my vet. She is genuinely patient and kind. She does not scold me for keeping my animals alive, even when they’re completely unable to function. (Bodhi the cat was paralyzed, and then when she could kind of get herself around, she was incontinent, and always, without fail, fell in her poop after she went.) My vet understands that Buddhists aren’t supposed to kill. She also understands that, between Bodhi and Scout, this thing has been going on for nearly four years. Four years of pee and poop and no sleep and sick, sad creatures who love me, and who want to be themselves but can’t. Apart from the blows of old age and sickness, their fates are in my hands.
Epicurious had a popular recipe with kohrabi, which involved tomatoes and corn and fish, all of which come straight from the earth and water out here. I bought the missing ingredients (thus the dog-shitting car experience), and brought them home.
My vet said that Scout was in pain—headaches, nausea—and that there really were no good drug alternatives, except something that might only take the edge off. She told me what end stage brain cancer looks like in dogs—it involves a seizure that can only be stopped by anesthetizing the animal in a hospital, and keeping it on that kind of support until he or she dies.
While Scout spun in the background (think the sound of horses cantering), I cooked, and I don’t cook. I had new potatoes (purple and tan) boiling in one pot, salmon poaching in another, tomato compote getting soft in a third, and fresh corn kernels and my kohlrabi in a fourth. In between stirring, I cut off hunks of the peanut-butter-and-chocolate fudge I’d stashed in the freezer and ate it. Julia is doing a sober October, and even though she’s taking space, I’m doing it for solidarity. A glass of wine would be good, but a bottle would be better.
I’d made all the calls earlier in the day to find out how much it costs to put a dog down. Out here, in the country, it costs $150 including cremation for an office euthanization, and $200 for a house call. My vet in the city costs $350 for the office, and $500 plus for a house call. Right now I have $90 in the bank, and the food I have in the refrigerator.
Exactly 35 minutes ago I gave Scout one of my valium. This was one of the vet’s suggestions. If I’d taken it, I’d be asleep, and I’m six times his weight. He, though, is spinning now like an Olympic ice skater, with his outside legs outstretched, his inside hopping in tiny circles. Whatever is in his way stays in his way, and his legs clunk against it, over and over again. I moved the weights. I moved the shoes. Clonk, clonk, he seems to want to hit something, to abrade his already abraded skinny little legs.
Julia called me this morning because I wrote her about Scout. She’s not sure that we can’t manage Scout’s pain with drugs. She knows, like I do, that it’s better to let a being live its life out—better for the being. I know for myself that I wouldn’t like someone to kill me, just because they were getting tired.
Soon I’ll have to google animal hospitals in the area. I’ll probably have to take him there tonight. I called Julia but she did not pick up. I tried to soothe him, long after the valium did no good at all, but his heart was racing, and he just wanted to go. I sat on the floor with him, and held him the way you do a child when they’ve found their freedom: just one more hug, one more breathing in of baby hair and wind.
At the sound of my sniffling (actually, I was wailing, but I don’t want to get too dramatic), he looked around, but not at me.
Tomorrow, though nothing else is certain, there will be leftovers.


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§ 3 Responses to Spinning

  • noa says:

    Oh my god Trish. They say we are only given what we can handle. You must be so deeply strong to be slung this situation. The fact that you can then to turn it into something beautiful, proves the saying to me.

    Personally I like to eat kohlrabi just raw, sliced thin, in a salad.

    I’m with you. If there is something I can do with ganges water let me know. It’s all there is here.


  • Julie says:

    my heart is breaking here reading this. I just decided to check in with your blog and wow. It’s a quiet Friday night. I will go to my cushion now and dedicate my practice to you and to Scout. love, Julie

  • Ralph Thompson says:

    great post thanks

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