Dempsey has been sick before, but he's never seemed sick. Worms, eye infections, allergies -- nothing had ever been able to slow Dempsey down. Today was different. After spewing watery, bright-orange diarrhea all day yesterday, Dempsey woke up this morning and vomited. And instead of running downstairs to grab a toy from his toybox, he stayed listlessly by our bed upstairs, uninterested even in his most favoritest squeaky toy.
Dempsey sees better, smells better, and hears better than we do, but we've always prided ourselves on having more sensitive pain receptors than Dempsey, which makes us superior. (Right?) So when we saw something was laying Dempsey low, we were naturally quite worried, and took him to the vet first thing this morning.
Even in the vet's waiting room, Dempsey was lethargic, showing no interest at all in the cute girl doggies on their way to their grooming appointments. And when it was time to go to the exam room, Dempsey stopped responding to my cues altogether. "Step," "heel," "go ahead," "let's go" -- Dempsey just laid on the floor, unwilling to step onto the scale like he usually does. I was flummoxed.
"I think I know how to do it," said the vet tech. I expected she had a special trick to cajole Dempsey into stepping onto the scale, but instead she just bent down and shoved Dempsey into place.
Duh. It's been so long that Dempsey has been doing whatever I asked him, I'd completely forgotten that with most dogs at the vet, you have to wrestle them into position. I didn't appreciate what a pleasure it is to have a well-trained dog.
Of course, when Dempsey wouldn't step onto the scale, or stand to have his temperature taken, or roll over for his tummy exam, or sit while the vet checked out his gums, I became convinced something was gravely wrong with our little boy: Had he become infected with something that caused brain damage??? (No, it's just gastroenteritis.)
Doreen was very worried, too. Though tonight was class night, Doreen stayed home with our boy, giving him massages and standing by in case he needed to run to the bathroom.
When I came home after class, the tables had been turned. It must have been something she ate, because Doreen was now the sick one, nauseous and vomiting. And Dempsey? He was right by her side, wagging his tail, giving her kisses and snuggles, and doing his doggie best to make her feel better.
I got into a "discussion" the other day with an "animal rights" activist who accused me of "enslaving" Dempsey. (Ha! As if!) I think she fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between a service dog and his person. A dog will only help you if he trusts you and knows that you really love him. It really is a service dog "team." Though we don't always know what to do to make each other feel better, Dempsey, Doreen, and I do our best.