My life revolves around the people I love, and one of those people is my 11 year old Queensland Heeler Biscuit. I’ve had her since she was weaned, handed over to me in the parking lot at Lucky Market by a cattle rancher whose bitch was good for a litter a year. We had got my son’s dog Max from old Cinder, so when we heard she had another litter we put our bid in for another little bitch just like Momma.
And that’s what we got, a dog that is bred to run cattle, a talent that is quickly translated into one of the best shortstops you will find. Even when she was really sick yesterday, she nudged the shed door asking for her baseball, and when I flipped it up in the air she gave a weak little jump up and caught it quick in her jaws. She can get almost a whole softball in her mouth, and once she gets it you have to put one arm around her neck and say “oh sweetie sweetie please give mummy the ball sweetie sweetie sweetie…”.
She used to have a boy, and they played baseball every day. Her brother Max showed her how to field, but he did not have her singular determination – sometimes he would just run to where the ball had landed, point at it (his daddy was a black lab), and then run off after a cat or something. Not Biscuit – once that ball appears on her horizon, she doesn’t take her eyes off of it. Once it is retrieved, she won’t give it up until you have the other ball in your hand to offer. Then she drops the first ball to chase off after the second.
A couple of years ago, I had to tell that boy of hers, he had to be careful not to run her out. These dogs will run themselves to death, running is just their favorite thing. It was during an unseasonably hot February three years ago that Max ran himself out at the hunting ranch at Corning, and they couldn’t get him to the vet before he was gone. Boy started to look at Biscuit with new eyes – dogs are not indestructible, and they really don’t have any sense of that.
Like when she took a powder after those deer a couple of weeks ago. It was cold outside, lucky for that, but she was sore for a week, and hasn’t really been herself ever since.
And then she got real sick day before yesterday, and our life has revolved around hydrating her with a syringe full of pedialyte every 15 minutes. Really, no kidding. When we fell asleep and slacked off night before last, she got sicker.
So, last night, instead of trying to sleep in shifts, we made a quick bed on the living room floor and took turns getting up, each of us getting up twice while the other slept for half an hour. Came back to us from our child rearing experiences, when our kids needed frequent feedings and wee-hour diaper changes. That was my initiation into adulthood – having to be responsible for this tiny helpless wiggling thing, no letting down, no flaking out, just you and the baby.
Luckily, in my case, it was never just me and the babies, my husband was very involved with our kids from Day One. He really enjoyed having kids, every minute. Now he is there for me with the dog, even though we have always referred to her as “Mom’s Bitch.” It is funny, I’m the only one she hasn’t taken a nip at.
When you love somebody you take the good with the bad, and she’s about 99 percent good stuff. So, it is not surprising to see my husband load her up like a new lamb and tote her up and down the stairs when she needs to go outside. We have been keeping her in the upstairs entry of our apartment, with her little buddy Badges sequestered at the bottom of the stairs, cause he can get really annoying at 3 am. He’s very nervous because she’s sick, and that means he is constantly nudging our hands for comforting. My arms are about ready to fall off, so he goes downstairs at night.
Biscuit has to be carried down stairs about every hour and a half to go pee, but she’s getting stronger on her feet today. We’ve been giving her a little mixture of pureed rice in her pedialyte, with a tiny dose of Pepto Bismol a few times a day to counteract the diarrhea she was having the other day. She’s barfed a few times – oh yeah, apartment smells GREAT! – but she’s making slow progress, we just have to keep plying her with the rice and pedialyte.
At first the Pepto made her barf, but we diluted it with the pedialyte and kept giving it to her. Doc said it would get rid of the diarrhea, but that pink gucky taste doesn’t go over too well, we have to really sneak it in there in tiny does over about a half hour or 45 minutes. It’s working, today she looks better, she’s more alert, not breathing so fast anymore, no panting.
When we went to see Doc yesterday, we caught him during a slow moment, and he gave her good looking over. Said we were maybe pushing the pedialyte too fast, that’s why she was barfing. He told us to keep up the Pepto, it was really important. Seems he was right – we were really determined about giving her that stuff yesterday, and now she really does seem to be getting stronger.
I don’t know what to think of myself. I’ve had my husband wound up like a top for almost three days, sleeping on the floor, carrying my dog down a flight of stairs about 20 times a day – all as he tried to tend to his usual routine. He’s got chores at our rentals every day, just the weirdest mot annoying stuff you would only know about if you’re a dedicated homeowner.
And he does a lot of the heavy cooking around here, because he likes grilled meat. The other day he had planned to cook a briscuit my father-in-law gave us when he butchered last Fall. He’d never bbq’d a straight briscuit, although we’ve done a corned beef once or twice on the barbie.
When he’s getting ready to bbq something he studies up online. We’ve also been watching a lot of Franklin’s BBQ on PBS, mostly because that guy is such a crack-up, but we also find he knows what he’s doing. It really takes a dork, you know? My husband started studying all this about a week ago, took the briscuit out of the freezer, fussed over the marinade, fussed over the time frame – takes at least six hours on the grill, and there’s all this fuss fuss besides the cooking.
Of course Biscuit got sick the day he was planning to put the meat on the grill. No problem – we called my older son, and asked him, would he like to do some chores for money around our house, and watch the grill, while we took Biscuit to the vet. We knew that first run up to Yankee Hill would take hours.
Our sons are wonderful people, I really like them. Of course he would come over and watch Dad’s briscuit, not to mention Badges, while we took Biscuit to the Doc. My son has been studying bbq himself, and this was an opportunity to learn something. He’s also a great hole digger, and I needed a new compost hole and some other stuff dug, tree holes, etc. My goodness is it nice to have a strong young person who cares about you.
Thank you God, I know I don’t say that often enough, Old Man. I curse you too, don’t I? I was really mad at you for about six months after you absolutely smote my cousin Rich out of nowhere with no good excuse. I know, you do more good things for us than bad, every day, countless little mercies you bestow upon us.
Biscuit is my little mercy.