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Yesterday, we had a Pet Emergency. This is not an unusual occurrence around here. And since most of the pets are a bit long in the tooth (or in the case of the birds, the beak), more such crises are to be expected. And when I say ‘we’ had a crisis, I mean our extended family we. In this case, we have broadened our family to include the pets residing at Second Son’s home.

As soon as I let Gill know there was an emergency at his house, she went to The Dark Place: “Oh, no! Has The Coonhound finally collapsed in a quivering heap? I was so hoping he’d make it through to Christmas so we could make one more run at Tim Horton’s for him!”

“No,” I reassured her. “He’s in rough shape but still standing…sort of. His legs are so shaky Second Son has to carry him up and down stairs, but he still smiles his goofy smile and lunges when  a hunk of proscuitto is dangled in front of his nose”. When he gives up on proscuitto and a wheel of cheese (he lives in an Italian household), we know his time is up.

“This time it was the cat. L’il Sis volunteered to take him to the vet, possibly to be put down.”

“Wait a second. Isn’t that the same cat that attacked L’il Sis whenever she showed her face there?” Gill asked. “She hates the cat and I’m pretty sure any responsible lawyer would say the cat hates her.”

“Yup. But L’il Sis can’t stand for any creature to suffer. Since Second Son’s parents weren’t well and couldn’t do it and Second Son had to work, L’il Sis thought it was the least she could do. Of course, she has no car. And so, before I could say ‘Taxi service’, I became part of the cat’s entourage…with my car, of course. Before I made my way to L’il Sis’s, the plan had changed. As our plans are wont to do. The plan was now to pick up Second Son from downtown (he had pleaded a family emergency at work requiring a trip to the doctor — didn’t specifically say ‘vet’), drive to his home to get the cat and console his distraught parents, go to the vet’s and likely put the cat down. A somber trip”.

The cat knew, as soon as he saw the crowd gathering around his crate, that something sinister was afoot. Although he and L’il Sis had reached an accommodation of sorts, he knew there were still bad vibes between them. “Wait a minute…why is this lady who hates me picking up my crate?” Everyone was in tears as we left the house carrying the crate and a box about the same size of Kleenex. We have been on these missions many times and know what to expect.

At the vet’s, a nasty abcess that had ‘blown’ the day before, spewing blood and gore everywhere, was properly cleaned and antibiotics given. The cat improved immediately. Seeing his happier demeanour, we questioned the decision to have him put down.

“He’s lost so much weight, he has no energy…he still looks bad,” Second Son noted.

“It could be the thyroid issue,” the vet admitted. He checked the creature’s heart and vital signs. “The heart is racing…probably the thyroid. Are you giving him the meds I prescribed?”

“Uh, funny story about that.I just found out today that my parents, who were supposed to be doing that, haven’t been doing it regularly. Maybe they didn’t quite understand that meds have to actually BE GIVEN to work!” He was irritated.

Hoping to diffuse his anger, I piped up, “Well, don’t we all have a somewhat lackadaisical attitude when it comes to drugs? I mean, who among us hasn’t quit antibiotics before the prescription is up? And heaven knows, I view the labels on drugs as mere suggestions, not written-in-stone pronouncements! Cut your parents some slack. They mean well. I mean there was never an animal better fed than this cat…or The Coonhound, for that matter. Or you, come to think of it.”

It was resolved that Second Son would take over the meds dispensing and with that, the vet was fairly confident that the cat would gain weight and return to his ‘normal’ state. The cat was getting a reprieve!  No death sentence.

I emailed Gill to let her know the news. “Thank goodness!” she said. “Every time I come home, there’s a new canary in the freezer or a new shrine/urn on the mantle. You people have to get over your fixation with dead pets. I swear, you’ve created your own decorating style…forget Industrial or Minimalist, you guys have got Funereal Chic. Nobody is allowed to die until I get home at Christmas and remove all the urns and boxes of pet ashes from the mantle, the displayed feather collections, the framed pictures of Creatures Past, the personalized photo albums of dogs, the shadow boxes of old dog leashes and coats, the library of condolence cards, the bronzed dog dishes. It’s gone too far! You people have to be stopped!”

“Does that mean I have to take Newton (Gill’s deceased parakeet) from the freezer?”

“Well, maybe HE can stay put…at least he isn’t actually on display.”

“Oh, that makes me think…he would have looked stunning on the mantle…”