Monday, March 23, 2009

Dogs as healers

There's just no delicate way to put this. Last weekend, I caught some kind of freakish stomach bug and went through 12 hours of absolutely violent diarrhea and vomiting. Imagine rabid raccoons brawling in your intestines and frightened, angry skunks trying to get out of your stomach. It wasn't that bad. It was worse.

They say the human body is 98% water. I'm guessing about 97% of it left via one route or the other between Friday night and Saturday morning. A few more raccoons exited through the day on Saturday. I had a warm and loving relationship with the bathroom floor by then.

By the time things settled, I felt like I'd thrown up my toenails. There was absolutely nothing left inside me from top to bottom. In fact, I'm pretty sure if you'd looked down my throat, you could have seen daylight on the other end. 

The Farmer slept through it all. He said he never heard me get out of bed even once. The man is oblivious. A woman sprinting for the bathroom in the throes of gastric upheaval is not a dainty creature.

The sounds that followed were not dainty either. Closing the bathroom door was not a priority. I was happy just to get to the bathroom in time. It really is the little things in life that mean the most.

While The Farmer was blissfully slumbering, I was wondering if I'd contracted the ebola virus or some modern strain of the plague. And my dogs were right there with me. At least Jamie and Phoenix were with me. Connor, at 14, is a bit oblivious and he slept through it all, too.

It is a universal fact that dogs love to accompany people to the bathroom. They are convinced there is a portal to another dimension behind the toilet. Trust me, there isn't. If there had been, I would have happily gone through it Saturday about 1 a.m..

Regardless, both Belgians accompanied me to the bathroom every single trip and waited patiently while I made rude noises. A lot of rude noises. And groaned. And regretted every bite of food I'd eaten in the last three days. And washed my hands. And brushed my teeth. And then staggered back to bed to do it all over again a few hours later.

I'm not sure how altruistic their motives were. They were clearly fascinated by what incredible thing I might do next. I think my canine cool factor was rising with every retch. But I was clinging to the whole "Lassie" theory and was sure they were there to offer comfort and ease my distress. In retrospect, my route to the bathroom passed through the kitchen and right by the treat cupboard. Gee, a floor show AND the possibility of cookies. 

We spent most of the next day in bed. I am using the royal "we" to indicate me and the dogs. The Farmer took one look at me and fled. To his credit, he came in to check on me once during the day, flung a bottle of 7-Up on the kitchen table and bolted again. He's not big on nursing things that do not have four legs and can be sold for a profit.

So it was up to the dogs to take care of me and they took their role very seriously. (Yeah, the dog who enjoys goosing people and the dog who once emptied an entire squeeze bottle of honey through four rooms of the house.) Looking back, I realize neither of them left me alone that day. One of them was always with me. Jamie slept pressed against my back, Phoenix curled behind my knees. The took turns snuffling me and licking my ears and making contented dog noises that were actually very soothing.

Two days and five pounds later, I'm good as new. Would I have recovered as quickly without such attentive canine care? Who knows. But I know they were very warm and comforting when that was exactly what I needed.

Again, when I count my blessings, I count my dogs twice.


  1. Does this make Connor a Farmer too?? Hopefully you're feeling BETTER and I have a spare skunk in need of a home!

  2. Soooooo glad THIS post didn't have photos!!!! Hope you're feeling better!!

  3. I know this 'tail' is 3 years in the past, it's still wonderful. Dogs are Magical Creatures.