My Super Adaptable Dog

I once lived next door to a man who had a dog that got physically ill when someone would rearrange the furniture. Dogs like routine.

Fortunately, I have what must be one of the most adaptable dogs on the planet. A.J. has been through a lot so far this year, and he’s been absolutely fabulous through it all.

A.J. started the year at camp while we were visiting family over the holidays. That’s not all that spectacular, he loves camp. But it was only a couple of weeks after he came home that he had his accident. He was recovering nicely from that when he wound up at the vet (again) with a minor injury (again).

Then I went on a week-long business trip, and he spent every day I was gone in day care. A couple of days after I got home, things really turned upside down.

It was Sunday morning. Greg had been having some pain for the past week whenever he exercised. He couldn’t get a doctor appointment for a month, so that Sunday morning he went into urgent care. At urgent care they ran a full physical, including blood tests and an EKG. He was told “I wish a was in as good a shape as you are. Your EKG is beautiful!” So they sent him home.

He came home and we left to take A.J. for his morning walk. We had only gone a few blocks when Greg’s phone rang. “You should go to the emergency room.” So, instead of his five mile Sunday morning walk, including a run in the park, A.J. went about three blocks and we turned him around and went home. Then we left.

This is an A.J. blog, not a Greg blog, so I’ll leave out most of the medical details, but we wound up spending the entire day at the hospital. At one point around lunchtime they scheduled more tests, saying they’d happen in a couple of hours. The hospital was only about a 15-20 minute drive from home, so I left the hospital to go home and take A.J. for a real walk and spend some time with him. On my way home I got a message from Greg’s son, who was at the hospital, saying “they’re going to do the test in 45 minutes.”

I got home, ran into the house, grabbed the leash, and practically ran A.J. to the park. He got to run in the park for about half the amount of time he usually gets, then we had to run home and I had to leave him again.

I got to the hospital just before they wheeled Greg away for his test. Ten minutes later the doctor was telling me my husband needed surgery. They were going to take him to a hospital across town and see if they could get him into surgery the next day.

We waited for everything to get scheduled, including the ambulance that would take him to the other hospital. At dinner time I gave Greg’s son the keys to the house, and he went to feed A.J. and spend a few minutes with him before coming back to the hospital.

Eventually Greg was taken across town by ambulance, and I got home to A.J. around 9:30 PM. Surgery was scheduled for 7:30 the next morning.

I got up around 5:00 AM and took A.J. for a short, 20-minute walk, fed him, and left for the hospital. I knew I’d be at the hospital all day, and possibly into the night. So I had managed to arrange for various family members to come to the house to check in on A.J., walk him, and feed him his dinner. When I got home at 9:30 that night I was exhausted, but I came home to a happy dog.

Greg was in surgery for five hours. That gave me plenty of time to figure out what to do with A.J. for the rest of the week. It turns out the hospital where Greg had his surgery was two miles from the daycare A.J. went to for a few months last year. They already knew him, I just needed to show them updated immunization records and I could drop him off there every morning on my way to the hospital.

Daycare opened at 6:00 AM, so the next day A.J. and I were again up by 5:00. We went for a quick walk, A.J. got his breakfast, and we were at daycare a little after 6:00. I didn’t pick him up until 6:15 that evening. That’s much longer than he ever spends in daycare, and an hour after he normally gets his dinner. And we were still 30-45 minutes from home.

We did this for three days. On Thursday the doctors were feeling good about Greg being able to go home on Friday. Because we had no idea when and if that would happen, I didn’t want to take A.J. to daycare and have to worry about picking him up on the way home from the hospital. So I left him at home, but he was only home for about three hours before Greg’s son went to the house to stay with him until we arrived.

We got home from the hospital around lunchtime. Greg’s mom and brother had made the four hour trip to come see him; they arrived shortly after we got home. Later more family came, and we wound up having a full house for dinner that night.

So during that one week, A.J.’s schedule was completely off; he was left home alone periodically at odd times; people were coming in and out, he never knew who would come through the door next; Greg was gone all week; I was only home for a few hours at night; and he spent very long days in a daycare he hadn’t been to in close to a year.

Through it all A.J. was his happy, wiggly self. He took it all in stride and enjoyed the attention of all our wonderful family members who took such good care of him.

Having to make sure A.J. was taken care of complicated the whole experience, but he was a happy, furry comfort to me every night (managing to take up Greg’s side of the bed and half of mine). I don’t know what I’d have done without my super boy. And he didn’t get sick once.