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The Mom’s delight was such that when I learned of a new dog on the family ranch, I could’ve been forgiven for thinking it was hers. But no, L’il Sis had got a new dog and The Mom was again a proud Grandma.

This new chappie was already a bit busted up when he arrived, which I suspect is part of what attracted L’il Sis. Bent ear, bent leg, and a cuddler . I mean, it could’ve easily been her answer to what she’s looking for in a partner on a dating website.

I was introduced to him as I am introduced to most things back home now: on Skype. He was hoisted up and shown to the camera as I shouted at them, “I can only see his belly, he’s too close!”

For the next several days, The Mom’s emails to me consisted entirely of blow-by-blow tales of the adventures this dog, named Groucho, was having with her and L’il Sis.

Until I got the one-line sketchy email from The Mom that I am now rather too used to getting.

“Don’t want to worry you, but Groucho’s been hit by a car, must dash, off to vet, more later…”

It’s when you get emails that start with don’t worry that you ought to immediately being to panic. Though, I am, at least in our family, the person in charge of not panicking. So I didn’t. I just kept hitting refresh on my inbox until it was time for bed. Hearing nothing further I didn’t fear the worst, but I tell you what, I was eager to check my inbox in the morning, and fearing a rather terrible and expensive international phone call later the next day.

However, all turned out to be alright, after a fashion. Groucho had indeed been hit by a car, but L’il Sis, who had been with him as he dashed arcross the road, had managed to get him to the vet in good time, and he would be resting there peacefully over the weekend. As she was in the process of starting a new job in the city, it fell to The Mom to nurse Groucho as he rested at the vet’s over the weekend.

Now, the thing about The Mom is that though she loves being called upon in this sort of emergency, what she also loves to do is pretend to be put out by it. She loves being involved in a drama that’s going to have a happy ending, and playing the half-martyr part speaks to her inner drama queen.

Soon the emails started to come, detailing the heroic efforts she was undertaking in order to make the new dog feel at home and loved. She trudged over to the vet in the blistering heat (this line in her messages was not unlike the old saw, I walked a hundred miles to school, in a blizzard, with no shoes, uphill…) and sat with the poor beast for some time, feeding him snacks and the usual chicken disgustings that my family reserves for friends of the four-legged variety.

Now, not knowing The Mom personally, you may think this is a bit extreme. To go to the vet and sit with the dog. Make no mistake, had it been the neighbour’s dog she’d have done it too. She’s very good at this level of taking care, and has done it for friends’ pets, for friends, and even for little old ladies she’s met walking dogs. It’s an enviable skill involving patience and an appreciation of duty that I do not have.

There’s also this: The Mom, in the vet’s, of an afternoon. The vet’s being as it is, filled with all manner of wounded and helpless pets, desperate for some love and attention. The Mom was essentially in a strange version of her happy place. Not that she’d want to see any creature suffer, but if they were going to suffer, better that she should be there with them. I was imagining getting a phone call or text from L’il Sis who would’ve been informed by the vet that they couldn’t get rid of The Mom.

Anyhow, the good news is that Groucho is now fine and back at home with L’il Sis. And thus The Mom’s vet visits have come to an end. Though, now that L’il Sis lives in the city, The Mom won’t get to see Groucho as much as she was hoping when they’d originally brought him home. Which is sad.

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