I had told my friends that night of the lunar eclipse moon-viewing party, that there was something up with Rosie. Probably indigestion, since her diet includes weird things found in the woods.
I came home to find our sweet dog suffering on the floor of my closet, her eyes squeezed shut, and her belly rising and falling in swift, shallow breaths. She stood up when I greeted her but did not look up at me. She took one or two wavering steps into the bathroom, then slumped down again on the tile.
I called my friend Charles.
“Can you come over?” I needed a second opinion. Ten minutes later, when he said her name, Rosie’s tail swished against the floor, twice.
It was the last time I saw her wag.
After a brief discussion, I decided to take her to the after-hours vet. I called Willie and Henry to come and say goodbye to Rosie, and her eyes grew wide then as if fixing her gaze on some distant thing made all the difference. It looked like bravery to me, or resignation, although she never made contact with our eyes.
I thought if I could just get her to look in my eyes, she might rally. I willed it to be a bad case of indigestion. Dead things in the woods were her culinary delights. It had to have been something she ate. She was fine that morning.
We wrapped her in a white blanket and lay her in the hatchback. I hoped with all my might for good news, a quick recovery, something we’d laugh about later.
Willie kept watch from the back seat. The drive to the north Austin animal emergency room couldn’t have been more than a half hour away, but it felt like forever.
When we arrived, the doctor came out and immediately checked Rosie’s gums. Noting they were cold, she and another worker picked her up and whisked her to the back room.
It was Pericardial Effusion. She was in shock. We drained the fluid that had filled the sac around her heart, to give her some relief. The doctor told us the fluid pressing on her heart would fill back in; there’s not much you can do, etc.
We put Rosie to sleep then, petting her and talking to her through it on the floor of the hospital. I lay next to her and put my nose to hers. “You’re such a good dog. You’re the best dog.” She did not lick. She did not move. Her eyes were already gone. I lay there for a while after the doctor checked her heart.
Will stood and swayed in the corner.
“She really was the best dog,” I got up.
When presented with the options for what to do with her body, I thought for a long time. No good options. Why was I having to make this decision when two hours earlier my dog was just fine?
I could have sworn she was just fine.