For years, we’ve given our dog small rawhide Dingo bones every night while we eat dinner. They occupy her for a few minutes so we can scarf down our food without incessant begging. Because our dog is a glutton, she has a habit of swallowing the bones before fully chewing them. That’s what she did last Thursday night, swallowing the end of a rawhide bone that became lodged in her throat.
I felt like I was in a movie.
Cue choking dog.
She kept trying to throw up the bone, but couldn’t. She wheezed and tried to run away from us. At one point, she ran into her crate (a place she never goes voluntarily).
Cue hysterical wife.
My wife loves our dog. Probably more than she loves me. For a million reasons that any pet-lover understands, Fiona is like our child. Especially since we don’t have children. Needless to say, my wife flipped out. When Fiona ran into her crate, my wife shouted, “She’s going in there to die!” I called the emergency vet; the woman who answered the phone told me to bring her in. So we ran to our car.
Cue torrential downpour.
It’s been thunderstorming in Cincinnati for what feels like decades now. Last Thursday was no exception. The minute we pulled out of our garage, the skies opened up and we were caught in a monsoon. I could barely see five feet in front of me as I sped north on Interstate 71. I almost wrecked a handful of times as my wife shouted for me to drive faster.
Cue dying dog.
Fiona was in real trouble in the car. It was obvious the bone was stuck in her throat. She could still breathe, but it was in gasping breaths. She didn’t understand what was happening, which made her panic. She’s an anxious dog to begin with, and losing the ability to breathe wasn’t calming her down. For most of the car ride, I honestly thought she was going to pass out and die in my wife’s arms (if we didn’t hydroplane off the road first).
Cue dying phone.
It just so happened that my phone was at 7% when we left our home, and Google Maps was draining the battery fast. And, just to make the night a little more fun, my wife ran out of the house in such a hurry that she forgot her phone. So, one phone, its battery nearly drained, and we had no idea where we were going.
Cue being lost.
The emergency vet I Googled was 25 minutes north. My wife was convinced there was one closer on Red Bank Road. We had never been to any emergency vet before, so we weren’t sure where to go. As we approached the Red Bank Road exit, my wife pleaded with me to take it. I did. Immediately after, we found MedVet on Google Maps. My phone was now at 2%.
Cue the passing of the storm.
It all seemed to happen at once. The rain stopped. The bone finally dislodged itself and Fiona was panting heavily, but her breathing had returned to normal. We pulled into the emergency vet’s parking lot. We sat there for a minute and debated whether or not we should go in. We finally did because if we didn’t, and something happened to Fiona that night, we didn’t want to live with that regret. She checked out just fine, and she’s currently barking at another thunderstorm as I type these words.
Cue the lesson learned.
I have no idea why we all take life for granted the way we do. I suppose our brains just can’t fully grasp how quickly it all can end. One minute we’re chewing on a bone. The next we’re gasping for breath. It feels like we’re going to live forever, but we know that our time is limited. For some reason, even armed with the understanding that it can all be taken away at any moment, we still spend a large chunk of our lives angry, or sad, or afraid.
Maybe someday we’ll figure it out. Maybe not. But for now, I’m going to practice making each moment count, starting with this one.
Photo courtesy of Fiona Fuller