The people at the University of Florida Small Animal hospital in Gainesville Florida are made entirely of the awesome. One of their students, a man named Sergio, called me two or three times a day while Lucas was with them and his updates were incredible. That said, it was still a long drive down there again. I got off at lunch today and started the two hour trip down to get Lucas.
Would he be awake, hysterical to see me, stoned, wounded, or what? A million questions wandered through my mind. Sergio told me Lucas was having problems urinating. What if those problems were permanent? What if Lucas took some damage while he was under and didn’t remember me? What if…?
The Small Animal Hospital is a very nice place. In and out people with dogs came and when while I waited and the dogs all came over to see me. Okay, I stood in the doorway, or close to it, like a Wal-Mart greeter for canines, “Hi welcome to the hospital would you like to be petted?” Most dogs will walk towards me when they see me. It’s a body language thing, I think, and I always smell like happy dogs.
There was no way for me to be ready for how Lucas was going to look. Everyone has always told me he was a handsome dog and I have always thought he was by far the most photogenic animal I have ever shared my life with but when they brought him to me I nearly cried. There is a large scar running down the center of his muzzle. The right side of his face is more or less caved in and his lip doesn’t totally cover his bottom teeth anymore because his top teeth aren’t there to hold it out. His nose looks pinched because of this.
He walked up to me and licked me on my face and I held him.
My dog. I have my dog. My dog.
Sergio had to repeat most of what he said because I couldn’t stop looking at Lucas’ face. Oh damn. But the stitches come out in two weeks. He has three different kinds of meds. There’s still some blood coming out of his nose. And we do not know if they got it all yet. The surgeon came in and told me that most of his face will look more normal as it heals. “Did you get all the cancer and can he function?” Yes. “Thank you!” and that is all that needs to be said, really.
On the way home Lucas wanted to sit in my lap but settled for having his head on my hand or my knee. He wouldn’t be still unless we were touching in some way. One hundred and thirty-one miles to go and then I will have Lucas home again.
It’s an odd thing, time is. Two hours doesn’t seem like a very long time but when you have an injured dog you are dying to get home and the traffic is bad it all seems so hellish. I was afraid to speed, afraid to slow down, I was afraid he’s start bleeding, I was afraid he would stop breathing, and if I could just get him home…
Home. Why is it we think things will be better if we can just get home? Lucas is far better off in a hospital than he is here, isn’t he? But no. He stopped drinking and wouldn’t pee on a leash for Sergio, saint that the man is. Lucas wanted to go home, to Lillith, and to the place he knows every tree. He kept his head down and didn’t look up until we got to the driveway then he sat up and looked at me as if he was asking if finally, please, could I just go home?
Lillith raked the door with her paws and yelped. Lucas went to the door and stood there and waited for me to open it. The two were reunited, nose to nose, lick to lick, pack to pack. We went out in the yard and Lucas drank from the water bucket, peed three times, had two bowel movements and drank again. Home. Lucas was home. Lucas is home.
Lucas is home. He’s snoring softly on the floor as I write this. I haven’t been this lucid in weeks. I feel alive. I feel wonderful. I feel like…I’m home, too. There is still work to be done on Lucas, minor stuff, check-up stuff, but that will wait for another day. I have tomorrow off. Lucas and I are going to sleep late and then we’re going to go in the backyard and his little sister is going through some training. But Lucas is home. Home is where the mutt is.