As some of you have heard, I lost my dog a couple of weeks ago. It basically goes without saying that things have been kind of tough since then. She was 13 years old but still in really good health. She was spry and athletic, and I’d often walk by our back door and catch sight of her out in the back yard inventing new games with her favorite toys: a ratty old tennis ball, a flat basketball, and a smashed milk jug. Friday, January 16 started out like any other day – she heard me wake up and immediately started harassing me to go for a walk, just like she did every. single. morning. She proceeded to drag me through the neighborhood and when we got home, I shared some bites of pizza crust with her before I left for class. That would have been at about 10:30 AM.
When I got home at about 1:30 PM, I found her curled up under the chicken coop, which immediately raised red flags. I managed to coax her out and bring her out into the yard, and she could barely walk. I ran inside to call my mom, who in turn called the vet, and by the time I got back outside, Maggie had crawled into her dog house. I ended up having to rip the top off the doghouse and physically carry her to the car. We got her to the vet and learned that her body temperature was over 10 degrees colder than it should have been, and she was severely dehydrated. Even after the initial exam, the doctor wasn’t optimistic. Her blood work came back and her platelet count was also extremely low. They were going to keep her overnight and try to get some fluids and steroids into her, but then they called later that evening and told us her heart had simply stopped as they’d gone to start the treatment. That was at about 8 PM. This all literally happened over the course of a few hours.
Needless to say, this was all kind of a traumatic experience. To have everything be fine one minute and really not fine the next… We’re still not really sure what happened. Her symptoms – and the sudden onset of them, at that – screamed poison, but we searched everywhere and there was nothing in the yard, shed, or garage that she could have gotten into. We’ve had problems in the past with people dumping food over our back fence, so you have to wonder if someone gave it to her. But the symptoms also could have been caused by certain types of cancer, and at 13 years old, she very well could have had some internal issues we didn’t know about. The fact that it all happened so fast is what has us baffled.
We were talking to my uncle (who is a retired vet) and he said he always used to tell people “If you can’t handle their deaths, you shouldn’t ever get animals in the first place.” And then you think about how hard it is to lose them, and you have to ask yourself if it’s actually worth it to have them. AND IT IS. It always is. Our vet’s office sent us a card last week (unfortunately they’d been closed on that horrible day so we had to go to a different place, which of course made the whole experience even worse) and there was a quote inside:
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight”
– Kahlil Gibran
It’s so true.
If there’s any sort of silver lining to all this, it’s that there are several different characters grieving for various reasons in Ronan: Ziva Payvan Book 3 and I now have plenty of recent, real-life experience to fuel my writing. I was also observing the vet as she was telling us what Maggie’s options and chances were, and there’s a certain coldness, a certain indifference they have to have in order to do their jobs. Of course I immediately thought of Ziva and the way she distances herself from people because of her job’s requirements. Obviously if a vet gets attached to every animal they treat, they’re going to be miserable. I hate to sound morbid, but I really did draw a lot of writing inspiration from this whole experience.
And the whole “If you can’t handle their deaths, you shouldn’t ever get animals in the first place” thing reminds me of an exchange in Nexus: Ziva Payvan Book 2…
“I see where you’re coming from, although I think your reasoning is completely flawed. Attachment is dangerous because it’s not only emotionally compromising for you but could also put the other party in jeopardy. Am I right? … Did you ever stop and ask yourself what kind of person you’d be if you didn’t care about anyone?”
In other words, getting attached to your pets is dangerous because their lifespans are only a fraction of ours, they could run away, or they could just be lost in a matter of hours. But what kind of person would you be, or what would your life be like if you didn’t have pets because you were too afraid of losing them? It would kind of suck, I think. BAM, Ziva. There you have it. Listen to Aroska – like he told you, he’s pretty good at giving advice.
One of the biggest bummers is that my morning walk with Maggie was one of my prime brainstorming times. I’d often talk to her out loud, walking her through plot points (only when nobody was around of course – I don’t want to look like I’ve completely lost my mind!). Even though she couldn’t respond, it was still helpful for me to hear myself saying the words. I could catch plot holes and come up with explanations easily.
In a lame attempt at putting a humorous spin on the whole thing, I’ve been joking to myself about how there are currently 3 people on this planet who know what “Ronan” really is. There were 4, but Maggie took the secret to the grave.
Oh pretty puppy.
On the bright side, I’ve managed to make quite a bit of headway in Ronan over the past couple of weeks. Assuming my wordcount estimate remains accurate, the first draft is just about 1/3 of the way complete. It’s probably time to take a break and really focus on school for a little while, but I’m pleased with my progress. I’m very, very excited for everyone to meet a new minor character, Tobias Niio. I kind of came up with him out of the blue but ended up really liking the way he contributed to the plot. I think we’ll see him again later in the story.
I’m also switching almost full-time to my Facebook profile rather than the Facebook fan page. Facebook has killed or is killing organic reach for pages, which means any “brand” with a page (even us little indie authors) now has to pay for ads in order to reach all of our followers (for example, my last couple of posts have reached less than 20 of the nearly-200 followers of my page). I’ll probably leave the page active, just because it’s listed as a contact medium in the backs of my books, but the current top post is sort of redirecting everyone to the profile so hopefully people will see that. So if you want to stay up to speed on all my writing adventures, you can find everything over on my profile. Hope to see you there!