"A touch of heartworm"

This weekend we brought both our dogs to the vet, as they were in need of vaccinations and a checkup. I've never brought both dogs to the vet at the same time before on my own because I knew it would be ludicrous to do so. Mina, our small dog, generally hates the vet's office, and all places where there are strange people and animals, especially strange people who hold her body down while prodding her with needles while saying things like, "She doesn't like this, huh?" and laughing.

Our big pitbull mix, Cecilia, on the other hand, would gladly allow the vet to amputate her leg without anethesia, all the while thumping her tail happily against the floor if it means she is being touched and, therefore, loved.

They are opposite personalities in a major way and this makes them a good, and funny team, but also makes it hard to do things with them at the same time, like go for a walk, or sit in a busy waiting room.

So when I made the appointment, I informed J that he'd be coming along for the ride because there was no way I was taking those two on my own. He's never been to the vet with our dogs before - my schedule in North Carolina was much more flexible so I always took them - and I assured him it would make for an interesting afternoon.

We had, as predicted, an eventful visit, which included the dogs whining nonstop once they realized there were cats in cages (they were up for adoption) right there, just feet away from where we were sitting, as well as their normal peformances once we got into the examination room: Mina stiffened her body completely, like a dense little rock, and Cecila, after greeting everyone with an enthusiastic full-body licking, laid down on the floor, her mouth open, her tongue hanging out, her legs spread.

The only surprise we got was when the doctor told us that the blood test results revealed that Cecilia has Lyme disease. It's extremely prevalent up here, so it can be a major problem for dogs - and people, too, of course.

The good news is she hasn't gotten sick. Lyme disease can lead to major complications in dogs, including renal failure and joint pain, but it looks like they caught it in time because it hasn't affected her at all, and after taking medicine for 30 days she should recover just fine. So it's not really a big deal.

When telling my mother about Cecilia's diagnosis later on that day she interupted me, saying "Guess what? Lucy has it too." Lucy, my parent's Labradoodle, and Cecilia are pretty much in love so it seemed fitting that they should get the same disease at the same time. Lucy, thankfully, is symptom-free and now being medicated, too.

The thing is that it took my mother a little while to figure out what was going on with Lucy because my father took her to the vet. And when he got home, he said that she had "a touch of heartworm."

Now, I don't know much about veterinary medicine, but I'm pretty sure saying a dog has "a touch of heartworm" is like saying a person has "a touch of diabetes" or something. "A touch of Alzheimer's." You have it, or you don't.

Also, "heartworm" and "Lyme disease," at least to my ear, sound pretty different.

I have no doubt my father was most likely checking his Blackberry, or thinking hard about that nap he was going to take when he got home, when the vet told him the news. It's ok, though. He loves the dogs in his own way, throwing them little salami and cheese sandwiches from the plate of snacks the humans are eating when we have guests over. But that's love, all the same. It's why the dogs sit at his feet, looking up at him adoringly. It's why they come running as fast as they can when he calls.