I returned to my desk, ready to grab my stuff and run out the door, and found four missed calls from home.
Ethan. What could be so important he needed to call four times?
I tapped the screen, picked up my purse, then headed for the door.
"What's up, buddy?"
"Oh, Arizona peed in his crate. I think he's sick or something."
Crap. Not a good sign. Maybe the cancer is spreading. Maybe he's mad at us. Maybe Ethan just didn't leave him out long enough this morning because it was raining. All these thoughts ran through my head, a heavy weight pressing my chest. I tend to think the worst, and my kids aren't ready to lose their dog. Not yet. Not so soon after Zoe passed away.
"Well, just put him outside and clean it up."
"I can't put him outside. It's raining."
"Leave him in the dog room so he doesn't get the house soaked and dirty. I'll clean him up when I get home." I sighed. "Thank you, buddy."
I walked into the house, on the verge of tears. Maybe I'm not ready for Arizona to die. Maybe I'm not capable of hearing the vet say his cancer is worse. "How's Zona?"
Ethan paled. "I'll go check on him."
My husband was cooking dinner, busying himself with things. Arizona is his dog, his baby, and seeing him sick this soon after the extensive surgeries over the summer . . . .
"I'm going to change." I darted up the stairs, stripped off my clothes, put on some comfy-domfies—as the girls and I like to call them—then made my way back to the family room.
Ethan returned from the basement. "He peed again."
My husband turned around, the fear of what this indicated clearly written in his expression, eyes wide and intense, mouth slightly open. "Are you sure it's pee? It is raining a lot. Or maybe he dumped his water. Did he dump his water?"
"I'll go check." I made my way to the basement and cleaned up the urine. The dog and I had a conversation. He looked kind of nervous as he paced around the room, head down, claws clicking on the cold concrete. "Don't be sick. Okay?"
Ethan sat on the couch, reading a book about different dog breeds. Every few minutes, he'd point to a picture of one and say something about how that could make a great next dog. He already assumes Arizona is going to die.
Our beautiful husky, still missing fur on his back from the tumor removal in July, paced about the room. Something he usually does, but not as long. Most days he'll just walk around the kitchen table, through the family room, in front of the smaller sofa, spin in a couple circles, then curl into a ball on the carpet. Last night, he paced through the entire kitchen, through the family room, around the table, in front of the sofas, through the kitchen again . . . he never stopped.
"Do you need to go outside?" I asked.
His ears perked, and he headed toward the gate. Ethan got up and let him out, then a few minutes later back in—still raining.
The pacing didn't stop. We made a routine of this—pacing, go outside; pacing, go outside—until we thought we were too stressed and so was he.
"Why don't you put him in his crate?" my husband asked of Ethan.
Five minutes later, Ethan stormed upstairs, his eyes narrowed, his fists clenched. "I can't get him to go in his crate. He bit me."
"He bit you?" My husband jumped to his feet. "Where?"
"Well, not hard, but he snapped at me."
Exaggeration is not acceptable right now, thank you.
TJ returned upstairs with the dog. Apparently neither of them could get him in his crate. Which is odd, because that dog loves his crate. Loves it.
The pacing continued, as did the potty breaks, until I decided to get up and attempt to get him in his crate—after many failed attempts to get him to lie down . . . and stay.
"Ethan," I called up the stairs, "grab some treats!"
I pulled at Zona's collar, pushed his behind, tried picking him up, but he fought me. Ethan arrived with the treats, and together we convinced the dog to get inside. Arizona slept down there all night long, no whining, no more accidents—thank God—and this morning, he was seemingly happy.
Maybe he had gas? Maybe a UTI?
I'm not sure. But on my way to work, while thinking about how much his vet appointment is going to cost—and whether this is a signal that our time with him is nearly up—a song that I don't normally hear on Pandora came on. Actually, it's a song that shouldn't come on my station because I don't have much else like it on there: Don't Worry, Be Happy.
I turned up the volume and laughed, then sang along. You may not believe in God, and maybe you don't believe in fate either, but the timing of this song was perfect, like a divine intervention. Rather than worry about the bills and the cancer and the accidents, I just need to do what needs to be done and be happy.
He's a good dog. He's had a good life. And he's still here.
We need to enjoy him.