May 12 – 3 am – Brussels. The phone rings.
“Hi Nat. It’s Daniel. Virus can’t walk.”
Daniel, valiant Keeper of Virus the Schnookie Pookie and Peyote the Alligator when I’m away. Fantastic with my two aging Jack Russells but not so much with keeping track of the 7 hour time difference…
“What do you mean “he can’t walk?” I ask, suddenly wide awake.
“He can’t walk on the hardwood floors. He takes a step, then slips and he can’t get up no more.”
“Daniel, please go to Target, buy 20 bath rugs and put them all over the house.”
Virus the fabulous Schnookie Pookie
Same day, 6 hours later, still Brussels. The phone rings.
“Nathalie? Hi! It’s Anita. How are you? Toy has cancer.”
Not to dwell on cliches, but when it rains… Toy. Dinky Toy the Stinky. My little 27 year old horse. A happy Belgian retiree since my departure to the States, 17 years ago. The horse does nothing. He eats twice a day, goes to pasture, and he lives in a damn castle. I’m not kidding. He lives MUCH better than I do. That horse leads a charmed existence and has no right to get cancer.
“Nathalie? Are you still there?”
“Toy had not shed his winter coat so the vet told us to clip him. Well, that was a whole ordeal! We did what we could but you know Toy… He’s kind of clipped. Under all that hair, he did not look good. The vet is coming back later. Would you like to be there?”
When I arrive at the stables, I am truly horrified.
Had I seen the poor thing in a field, I would have suspected abuse and called the SPCA. The vet arrives and examines him. He says it’s Cushings Disease (which perhaps is NOT cancer!) He also says the horse appears very skinny but it is due mainly to his loss of muscle tissue. He is not suffering. If we manage to make him retain some of the food he scarfs down, he could still have a few years in front of him.
The next day, I visit him in the field. Out in the open space, he looks a tad better. But not much.
My instructions are: “The day you actually manage to catch him in the field, I guess that’s when we’ll have to start really worrying. Until then, you’ll just have to keep on running after him every evening…”
When I return to the States, the two dogs greet me at the door. The house’s hardwood floors are covered with bath rugs of varied vibrant colors. I guess I should have mentioned one color only, beige or black… but at 3 am, it just did not come to mind. I just hope that when my time comes to slip and fall on the hardwood floors, someone will love me enough to make that special trip to Target. I hope this person will have good taste.