The story begins with my yellow Labrador (his name is Panda) having a seizure at 11:30am, right before I had to leave for work. We had just gotten home from a short walk so he could take care of business and right as we were about to enter into the house through the garage door, he looked suddenly sad, his tail stuffed itself between his legs, and he began to shake, first just fast, and then violently.
His eyes glazed over as his soul escaped to another realm, his jaws snarled in a way his soft kind personality never would, and his legs locked up, as I watched my little brother violently shake on the ground. I immediately soothed him and made sure he couldn’t injure himself, yet at the same time sighed inwardly because this was simply the worst time to seize up. I was risking the chance of being late to work.
There was no one home as I was going to leave, and I felt terribly sorry for my furry brother because after a seizure a dog will be scared, confused and panicked. I did all I could to sooth him yet I still felt like a traitor by leaving and not calling off work, even though I knew the seizure was not life threatening. It just seemed wrong.
Finally however, after a long day at work having to deal with a bunch of grumpy difficult customers, all I wanted to do was see my dog again and lay in bed to nap for a few hours. After so many hours, he would have recovered from the shock of the seizure and would have been back to his usual self.
And sure enough, I walked into the house through the front door and there he is on his little doggy bed, looking a little sad, but calm and relaxed. I run over cooing to him and petting him, just as a tenant (we’ll call her Liz to protect her identity) of the house walks into the room.
I tell her the whole incident of Panda having had the seizure in the morning, and she gasps and begins asking sympathetic questions.
Hey, questions are nice and everything but I really needed to get some sleep. My eyes could barely stay open and my mind desperately needed some rest from the days dramas. I already have anger management problems that were barely contained during the works shift.
I excitedly call Panda to get up so we could quickly go outside and he could take care of his business. Upon finishing and coming back into the house, I begin heading over to the stairs of the house leading up to my room with Panda following behind me.
As we headed towards the stairs, Liz followed while asking how my day was. It was at the point where we paused before the stairs discussing my day, that Panda took his first step onto the stairs, and froze. His tail stuck in between his legs, his ears dropped, and he began to shake as though scared.
Panda was having another seizure.
His first two paws were on the first step of the stairs so he risked falling down while being stiff, so I quickly rushed over and arranged his limbs so he would land on his side in a safe manner. Immediately upon seizing Panda let out a gush of urine and began foaming terribly at the mouth.
I knelt by his side and began to pet and sooth him, when I noticed my dad was having a meal while reading the news right by us in the living room.
“Dad!” I yell, “Pandas having another seizure!”
It was to my biggest shock, when all my dad did was grunt in acknowledgment, take another bite of his meal and continue reading his news.
“Dad! This is his second seizure!” I yell. “That mean’s we’re going to have to take him to the vet!”
My dad looks over, and goes, “Oh.” and then shrugs.
Now I am near furious. How can he not do anything or even seem to care?
I turn my attention to the next human being nearby which was Liz, and all she was doing was standing there doing the whole, “Oh no, aw that’s so sad, oh thank goodness you’re there,” type of sympathy. Although it was appreciated, the last thing I needed was a sympathetic audience offering sympathetic words and the thing I needed most was some assistance.
Could they not see that there was urine all over the floor? Could they not see that I was handling a hectic situation alone and that I could use some help?
Couldn’t Liz at least grab me some paper towels? That was what I needed the most at the moment to be frankly honest! I couldn’t care less about her sympathy I needed something to clean up the floor!
I was beginning to lose it.
My dad was not helping, a lady was standing nearby being what I considered incredibly useless, and two seizures in a day for a dog was a mandatory call to the vet. And what do mandatory calls to the vet mean to a minimum wage worker?
They mean you are going to lose a lot of money.
Now, cleaning up a mess I can deal with. Having an insensitive father was no big deal, and having someone watch me struggle without lending a hand was something I could easily get over.
But losing money? Now the most sensitive nerve had been struck and my frustration was truly beginning to boil.
I began to hound my father about his dull reaction and he immediately snapped back claiming he’s done enough for Panda for too long and he is out of the picture. I turned on Liz and she exclaimed also that she has had to clean up for Panda countless times.
Now half filled with rage, I make the dreaded phone call to the vet and when I am angry, I do not care who I am speaking with. I will express it in my tone and will not be thinking straight. A young vet nurse picks up and I rudely update her on what has been happening, and I demand the ending price to a veterinary visit with all procedures necessary to check on a dog with seizures.
The vet immediately senses my rage and begins trying to sooth me and calm me down, while making the obvious point clear that there is no way to get a quote without first having seen Panda. Yet I just wanted to hear a number so I could get an estimate to the extent my fury was going to reach.
While all this was happening, my dog is back up and conscious. He’s pacing anxiously, whimpering, stepping on my feet painfully to get my attention and trying to push me around with his head. I step outside to the front of the house to get some phone call privacy and the ground is ice cold and I’m bare footed which agitated me more.
The vet finally quotes me with numbers going into the hundreds, and that was the bare minimum. As I hear this, Panda begins to bark at my face as loud as he could. After enough barks to set my head ringing, I finally lose it and I roar obscene words to his face demanding that he shut his mouth, to put it nicely.
But it was immediately after roaring those words, that something snapped in my mind. A whisper gently poked the back of my soul, asking, “Where had your values gone, that you would get so furious over a bit of money, and yell at your loyal little brother in such a way?”
Although I did not fully acknowledge the thought, small doses of memory stroked my mind of Panda always being there for me when I was sad, following me around faithfully when I needed someone the most. Of Panda looking up to me for guidance and direction, and of him always there even when no one else ever was, as silly as it may sound with him being a dog. (Though you pet owners out there know its really not that silly at all.)
As I make this phone call, the veterinary hospital closes in half an hour and I have that time frame to decide whether or not to schedule an appointment to have Panda seen for the hundreds of dollars that would be charged.
I realize at this point that my rage is out of control, and that staying on the phone is probably one of the worst ideas simply because my mind was not thinking straight at all and I could not even hear what the vet nurse was telling me. I tell her I have to go, and I click off.
Everything goes quiet.
Muttering curses and holding back my rage as well as I could to the point of physically shaking, I go upstairs to my room, turn off the light, lay on my bed and close my eyes.
As I laid there in the dark silence, my anger began draining out of me like water running down a sink, and it was then that the memories of my little brother begin to flood in to replace the void left by the anger…and I began to realize how much I treasured my furry friend.
Just as Panda had always been there for me during my times of need, when I was frustrated and couldn’t handle my own situation, this was now his moment where he needed someone for him also. Panda was now aging, and he had been my loyal friend for almost ten years. He had now reached a point in his life where his body was responding to age, and being an animal with paws and who couldn’t speak, he didn’t have the ability to take care of the situation himself.
All the walks and adventures we’d been on began playing in my mind. The moments of laughter and ecstatic joy of enjoying nature together, and all the nights laying in bed just wondering what the next day had in store.
As the memories built up, the idea of money became more and more silly. Did I seriously just lose it over a few hundred dollars? Money is something that can be replaced, but Panda is a brother that I can only have once in my life.
I almost cried as this thought occurred to me. And before I knew it, I realized I was willing to spend the world to keep Panda alive, and to have him checked out. I didn’t care if I had to give up a car, a house, a mansion, or even my life. That was the degree of my fondness for him.
What mattered most in the world, was to keep my faithful brother alive and happy and to be there for him, just as he had always been there for me.
As we grow older, it is so easy to forget what our loved ones have done for us when we were young and little. We begin to take their love for granted, and when their time comes for them to need help, it is so crucial to offer that love to them, no matter what the cost.
For what is life without love from another? Money will never love you back.
Even today if I am in debt and I have to sweat and moan to get my next paycheck, it is all worth the trouble a hundred times and more when I come home to see my dogs hopeful and happy eyes to see me come back home.