“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Part II, Day 17: The Same River Twice (a day)

Heraclitus once said:
You cannot step into the same river twice, for other waters are continually flowing in.
Now that the weather is warmer, Zoe would like to step into the river twice a day, at least.

Tuesday morning we left at 7 AM for the animal hospital in Canada, and didn't return until almost 9 PM.  As I wrote in yesterday's post, we found out that the disease had made some progress, and we even thought for a while there that there was something scary-wrong with her heart, but that turned out not to be the case, and she was able to take a dose of doxorubicin along with a heart protecting drug, and didn't once complain.  My sister calls Zoe "our stout-hearted girl" and I think that captures her solidity, her steadiness, her courage, her capacity for carrying many loads lightly on her feet.   Zoe's chest fur has been shaved again, so she looks like a poodle with a punk aesthetic, but she is the same in all other respects.

All afternoon I sat in the waiting room with a couple I was meeting for the first time, who already felt like friends.  Their brave and beautiful dog had been suffering from the same cancer Zoe has; the family hadn't planned to be there that day, but he was suffering and they brought him into the emergency room.  I'd been corresponding with the wife of the couple on e-mail and Facebook for the past couple weeks--our shared vet tech, Willow, introduced us--and we spent two very emotional hours together.  I will tell that story soon.

I have met many wonderful people and dogs because of my dog.  She has made the world much bigger.

To get to the animal hospital, we cross the St. Lawrence Seaway.  It feels like a different river every time.  Yesterday as we sped back it glinted silver like the high suspension bridge above it, and the light flickering from just across the border under the night sky comforted me with the knowledge that we were almost home.

Zoe missed all the worry and the tears flowing in the waiting room yesterday as people and their dogs faced up to things.  Willow and Donna said she just sat with them calmly the whole day and kept them company as they did all their work, never barking or whimpering.

I think Zoe now thinks it's her job to take care of the staff at this hospital.  She is calm and steady.

That night she came into our room when we were getting ready to sleep just to reassure us--it felt like that to me, at least--that all is well.  She lay beside us, lifted her paw for us to shake it in her queenly way (which is perhaps more like a pope inviting us to kiss his ring) and then bared her bare chest and invited me to rub it.

All day she was, as ever, entirely herself.  No signs of being nearly as tired as I am.  No signs that two heavy-duty drugs were dripped into her veins, or that she missed her breakfast and walks. 

We return to the comfort of her routines:  walk, eat, watch the house, eat, walk, play.  In the back yard she finds another old bone and runs to catch it, then hides it again for next time.  Then, for a long time, or maybe it's just a minute, we sit along the river's edge and just listen.

We're going for a walk soon.  We'll cross this river, as we do every day, and walk along it, feeling that we know it, that it's ours for an instant, even as the new keeps flowing past.


  1. Just catching up on your blog, Natalia, after a busy week. You helped me remember to sit at the river's edge....
    While I was reading, Abbe came bounding into the room, whining and half-barking; I think she may have been saying hello to Zoe!

  2. It would be so amazing to see Abbe and Zoe together, on a walk along the river! Thanks for writing, Brenda!