Happy Friday Bloggers! Here’s wishing everyone a very happy September Long Weekend!
Chapter Thirty One—No Bite, No Bark
When Bailey finally got home, she was not the same dog we left at the vet’s. She seemed slower, sadder, and quieter somehow. She still ate, but not with the same gusto—her mouth was still very sore from all the work they did. Perhaps the most disturbing for me was that she just didn’t seem to care about much of anything—not even spam or tuna.
I understood that she didn’t feel well, and everyone—myself included—rallied around her. Lolly tried to coax Bailey with promises of a walk. Grandma Brown tried to coax Bailey back to herself with all kinds of really yummy smelling snacks. I really didn’t try any coaxing—I just curled up next to my friend and purred the most magical purr I could muster. Since I was the only one not coaxing her, I seemed to be making the most headway with Bailey. It was I who noticed that Bailey was spending most her day crying.
“Does your mouth hurt?” I asked one morning. Bailey just sighed a big sigh and rolled away from me. Given the size of her bed, and the fact that neither one of us are ‘skinny’, her rolling over rolled me up and out of her basket with a ‘fwump’. Normally, I would use my position as Head Pet to lecture Bailey on the etiquette of bed sharing with a Head Pet, but given her current state, I let this one slide. I tried again, “what is making you cry?”
“Sure, my mouth hurts, but that isn’t what is making me cry.”
“Then what is it?”
“I am not a real dog anymore.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing—what on earth could have happened to Bailey to make her believe she is no longer a real dog? Through sobs and sighs Bailey explained that when they fixed her acute periodontal disease, they had to pull some teeth. Among those teeth were all four of the teeth called “canine”. I learned that the canine teeth were the teeth dogs most associated with. For dogs, their canines were as sacred to them as purrs were to cats. In fact, in some respects the canines were even more significant than our purr. Canines are so significant to dogs it is even part of their Scientific Name: Canine Familiarus. It is the thing that unites all species of dog—at least as far as dogs were concerned.
Cats really didn’t take their teeth, or even their purrs quite so seriously. Sure, I know there is a lot of magic and power to a cat’s purr—but I never let my purr define me. If I lost my purr, I would be sad, but I would know right to the very tip of my tail that I was still cat. It just wasn’t that way with dogs, when they take something to heart—they take it to the very bottom of their hearts. There seemed to be very little I could say to Bailey that would help her understand that her heart and soul were not inextricably linked to her canine teeth. Bailey was in a sad and scary place—and even more scary was I was at a loss of how to help her.
I tried my best to talk to Grandma Brown about it. It was difficult, mostly because she kept distracting me with tuna snacks, and the special snacks Bailey refused to eat. I begged and pleaded with her to hear me out. She needed to understand what a desperate state Bailey was in, and that I didn’t know how to even begin to help her. Someone had to get through to Bailey before it was too late. After all, all mammals have canines—that wasn’t what made Bailey special. Dogs are special because of their joy, devotion, and exuberant love for humanity—teeth have nothing to do with that!
After all my meowing, yowling, and meowling, Grandma Brown finally figured out that I was begging for help with Bailey. She sat down with her cup of tea and address book. “My orange boy, you are right—we need to call in the cavalry.” As per usual, I had no idea exactly what Grandma was talking about, but I had faith in the power of her ideas. Grandma Brown had a knack for knowing just exactly what to do to make things better.
The next day, Bailey had a couple of very special visitors: Pops and Sadie. It had been a while since we last saw Pops. He seemed smaller and slower somehow. He walked with a cane, but he moved very deliberately. Grandma Brown told Sadie all about Bailey’s dental surgery, and subsequent depression. Sadie told Pops, and without a second thought, Pops cancelled his Gardeners Guild meeting so they could head straight over for a visit the next morning.
Bailey was fast asleep when they knocked on the door, and she barely twitched at the sound. In fact she groaned and flipped her head so that her eyes were covered by a floppy ear. Both Lolly and I were waiting at the door to greet them. Pops was very special to Lolly and she was excited to see him again. As for me, I was more excited to see if seeing Pops would help Bailey realize she was still very much a dog. He looked at me and said, “That cat is getting’ fatter! Heheh!”
Now, cats usually take umbrage at cracks about their weight, and I was no exception. However, this visit wasn’t about my feelings—it was about Bailey’s feelings. I could sit there and endure ‘fat’ jokes from Pops, or I could go wake up Bailey. The choice seemed obvious. So, I sauntered over to the sleeping Bailey and gave her a clawless swat on her bottom—and then ran away before she could see me.
Both Lolly and Grandma Brown seemed amused by my behavior, and relieved at its effect. Bailey woke with a start. She yelped and jumped straight to her feet. Sadie spoke first, “Stinky Beast? Are you awake?” For the first time in what seemed like forever Bailey forgot her sadness and bounded over to Sadie, barking and howling and wagging her skinny little tail. First she nearly knocked down Sadie, and then half way through one of the noisiest greetings I have ever heard, Bailey ran over to Pops gently climbed up unto his lap and licked his face. She wimpered and yelped and wagged her skinny little tail so hard we were all kind of amazed her bum didn’t take off the ground like a propeller plane.
Pops laughed hard and said through chuckles, “That’s my same old pup! Heheheh—look at her Sadie—look! She hasn’t changed a bit!” Pops’s praise and chuckles seemed to do the trick for Bailey. He reminded her who she really was, and that she didn’t really need any canine teeth to be her.