The Will to Live
By Traci Bold
“I’ll be right there,” I call out, swishing the mop into the bucket hurriedly. He pounds again on the back door. I hear him shouting.
“I can’t get the door, I’m carrying Brittie; she’s hurt.” His words are stressed and worried, he knows how fast my heart breaks when any animal is hurt, especially my own dog.
I open the door for them. Kevin carries Brittie into the living room, gently placing her on the couch. I scour her body for signs of blood which I don’t see Thank God. Gently, I pet her head, soothing those worried amber colored eyes.
“Good girl, Brittie. You’ll be all right. Did you get a pheasant?” At the word pheasant, her ears perk right up.
Kevin proudly strokes her fur, “You did, didn’t you girl? You kicked it up and when I shot it down you ran after it even though you were hurt.” As he says this, he looks right at me, worry blanketing his face.
He explains. “We kicked up two pheasants that I missed and about an hour later, she kicked up another after going into point. I was able to sneak up on it like she was doing and this time, we got close enough that when she kicked it out of the corn, I got a good shot. As soon as she started after it when it fell from the sky, she howled in pain. She was far enough ahead of me that I couldn’t see her. I could hear her trying to trudge through the corn though and I caught up to her. As soon as she saw me, she trudged harder trying to get to the downed pheasant, not wanting to disappoint me but she was trudging on only three legs, her back right leg carefully not touching the ground.” Kevin takes a deep breath, letting me process his words.
“I called to her to stay which she did but she was anxious. When I got to her, she laid down again, tucking her right leg in close and howled. I picked her up and turned around to carry her back to the truck and she howled more. I wasn’t sure if I was hurting her more carrying her and she started squirming hard to get down so I set her down to see if she would walk slowly with me on leash but she pulled hard the other way, which made her howl again and I realized she wanted to get that pheasant no matter what it took. But being stubborn like I am, I gently tugged on her leash to follow me to the truck. She howled again, repeatedly and sat down until I relented and we walked to the pheasant. This however was a long process getting there as we had to stop every few feet to let her rest. When we did get to it, she picked it up dry-mouth and gave it to me, proud as hell.
I pat her head, telling her how pleased I was. As soon as I had the pheasant tied to a rope and slung over my shoulder, she let me carry her back to the truck. And, here we are.”
Brittie looks up at me, pleased. “Good girl Brittie! You are the best pheasant hunter I know. How about a special treat?” With a happy tail wag to prod me along, I return with a beef biscuit for her. Happily she eats it while I rub her right leg until I get to her knee; then she tenses up and whimpers.
“You’ll have to call the vet right away Monday morning to get her in. I don’t know if she just got a stinger in her joint muscles or if she tore her ACL like Coal did, (referring to our Black Lab who died two years ago). I just know she was running as fast she could all day today whenever I shot at one.” Kevin gives her a kiss on her head and brings in the pheasant for her to sniff down.
Proudly she looks up at me showing me her treasure. I praise her repeatedly proceeding to baby her the rest of the day.
It was the last time she was able to go pheasant hunting; she was seven years old then.
Three days after she went in to visit the vet she had knee surgery to fix her torn ACL.
Friday morning as I waited to pick her up, the vet pulled me aside to tell me Brittie may not live long. While she was coming out of the anesthesia, he checked her kidney function, standard procedure form any surgery, and found she was in early stages of kidney failure and gave me medicine for her.
“My guess is that in two weeks you will have to bring her back in. I think her symptoms will probably not improve,” he told me. Tears rolled down my cheeks.
The assistant brought Brittie to me and together, we loaded her into the car.
I spend the entire day laying on the air mattress Kevin had blown up for her the night before until he gets home and then I head directly to the store to buy filtered drinking water.
The next few weeks were exhausting for Brittie and I. during the day when the kids were at school and Kevin at work, I sat or laid next to her on the air mattress, carrying her outside to do her business when she needed. I brought her food to her and kept her water close by. Her kidney function was improving steadily.
Kevin and my girls made dinner and kept the house clean. When they were home, I would shower and do laundry.
“Honey, I don’t think Brit would have healed as fast if you hadn’t stayed home with her while you did. I’m really happy you were able to take a leave of absence from work to take of her,” Kevin told me as we both sat next to Brittie, him massaging her leg. “I think Brittie’s glad too.”
I gave Brittie a kiss on her head and she licked my chin saying, “Thanks.”
Three years ago, I lost both of my jobs due to an injury and Brittie and I are together twenty-four seven again.
Now she is just past fifteen years old and though she cannot go for walks anymore, she does walk around the yard with me when outside and she still points when she spots a rabbit (her second favorite animal to hunt). Talk about a will to live!
I enjoy every day I have with her. Just look at her face, how can you not want to hang with her, huh?!
Cheers to our pets who love us unconditionally!!!! They deserve the best.