sambuca.

Buca died.

I don’t remember specifically when she started having seizures, but she did.  The first time, it freaked us out, and we took her to our vet; a hippie guy who’d gotten his degree at some vet school in Grenada and came highly recommended by everyone in town.

He checked her out, and pronounced “Labs have seizures.  The only thing more common than labs having seizures, is vets being unable to tell why they have seizures.”

She only had them in the middle of the night.  We’d come down in the morning and see the telltale signs; kitchen chairs out of place, piss smeared all over the floor and a nasty smell that would indicate that she was thrashing around on the floor the night before.  Other times we’d wake up in the middle of the night and hear her having one; I’d go downstairs and sit with her because she’d always be confused when she came out of one.  So I’d sit there and pet her and say “It’s allright, puppy” as if she could understand me, and slowly calm myself down once again.

We got Buca as a puppy when we lived in our “garden apartment” in Lodi, mostly as a way of scaring people away while I was working the late shift at my first job, and Sandy was in the apartment alone.  She was black, and we decked her out with a studded, Judas Priest collar, thinking she’d scare away any potential predators.

Instead, she was a mush.  Whenever someone came to the house she’d get so excited that she’d wag her entire body, not just her tail, and then she’d leave a giant puddle of pee behind her.  She most certainly did not fulfill her duties as a watchdog, but she was a pretty good buddy just the same.

I woke up in the middle of the night and heard her thrashing downstairs.  Or maybe Sandy woke me up, I don’t really remember.  But it went on for what seemed like too long, so I went downstairs to see what was up.

She was on the kitchen floor, all locked up, teeth bared and twitching in her typical seizure pose.  Except this time, it seemed to go on for too long.  Eventually I started getting nervous, and thought it might be a good idea to bring her to the animal hospital.  It was probably 2AM.

I didn’t even try to pick her up.  She weighed 80 pounds and was twitching and thrashing, occasionally getting up and taking a few running steps and then falling down again to thrash some more, and so I had to call the police to help me. Labs have seizures, I thought.  Nobody ever made it seem life-threatening.  But when we called the animal hospital, they said  “Get her down here right away.  If you don’t get here now, she’s going to die.”

The officer arrived and we managed to get her onto a blanket, and then with each of us taking one end of the blanket, we hoisted her out into the yard and then into the back of my truck.

I wasn’t really sure where the animal hospital was.  I knew what it looked like, since I’d driven past it a few times, but I didn’t really know how to get there.  The police officer gave me directions and I drove off as fast as I could, tires squealing and heart racing.  I could hear her in the backseat, thrashing about, occasionally squealing and squeaking.

I got lost.

Frantically driving, looking for something familiar, calling home on the cellphone and trying to find directions.

Eventually in the back of the truck, silence.  I knew.

And then about two minutes later, the sign for the animal hospital.  I pulled into the driveway, tires squealing, with the vet and two assistants standing outside the front door as I pulled in.  They ran to the back door and grabbed Buca.  The vet was punching her in the chest as the assistants carried her in.

I waited in the lobby until they came out and told me.

“If you had just gotten here five minutes earlier, we could have saved her,” the bitch said.  I had no idea how she could have known that, but it sucked that she said it.  Then she squawked “Do you want to spend a minute with her?”

She was just a dog.  She frustrated me; she had to be let out several times a day and she was really too big for our little house.  She pissed on the floor when guests came over, and she was constantly talking.  We had to create a little section in the sideyard of our house for her, and if we didn’t scoop up after her every couple of days, the whole outside of the house would reek.

But when I went into the room where she was, I suddenly remembered that she had also protected Sandy in our shitty apartment, and that when she was a puppy, I slept on the floor with her because she was too scared to be alone.  The night Milan tried to break into our house to drop off a demo tape, Buca was there, snarling and barking.  She was there with us when we had our Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth CD assembling party, and she protected me when Officer Friendly invaded my house to play me his demo.  And of course I spent an entire day shoveling a year’s worth of her shit in the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

I suddenly remembered that we had a baby, crawling around on the floor, and Buca was gentle and protective and completely trustworthy.  Ryan, now four years old and running all over the house, was constantly pulling her tail and yanking her ears and she just stood there and took it, occasionally licking him on the head.  And that if Sandy and I were snuggling on the couch, Buca would jump on top of us, all 80 pounds of her, to join in the snuggle.

I sat there and cried, and pet her until I had been there an uncomfortably long time, then I sat in the waiting room alone for another half hour or so until I could compose myself enough to drive.

The sun was coming up when I got home.

~ by Al on December 3, 2009.

2 Responses to “sambuca.”

  1. I had to put down my dog years ago; I was sobbing and the vet (woman) started to get emotional to see a semi-punky tattooed guy crying and saying goodbye to his dog.

    It was also something profound for me as once BB’s essence was gone, you could tell there was no life there; everything down to the single hairs of her fur just seemed to be nothing more than .. eh, hard to explain.

    That sucks Al; I’m sorry.

  2. I agree, it was weird. I was sitting there, petting this thing that was once my dog, and I sort of slowly came to that realization. It was definitely bizarre and sad.

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