Judging from past years, the fruit on our neighborhood Kousa dogwoods usually ripen in September, a fact seemingly lost on this early-fruiter.


One thing I’ve learned over the years is that everything happens in due time…except, of course, for the things that happen sooner, or the things that happen later. No sooner did we get home and settled from our West coast vacation than we got waylaid by a pair of veterinary emergencies, neither one of them involving Reggie. When you live with an old dog, sometimes it’s your other pets who send you rushing to the vet hospital.

Asiatic dayflower

On Friday, we took our yellow Labrador retriever, MAD, and our black-and-white Maine Coon cat, Shadow, for check-ups: MAD because he’d been favoring one of his hind legs, and Shadow because she’d been drinking and peeing more than usual. Shadow’s diagnosis with kidney disease came as no big surprise, nor did our vet’s recommendation to begin treating her with subcutaneous fluids here at home…but we were surprised by our vet’s discovery of an enormous lump on MAD’s spleen. And so on Saturday, MAD had an eight-pound, basketball-sized hematoma removed during an emergency surgical procedure, all our worries about his hind leg being postponed until we got the biopsy results.

Green pokeweed berries with pink stems

On Sunday night, we brought MAD home from the vet hospital while Shadow’s condition continued to worsen. First, she wasn’t eating; then, she wasn’t doing much other than lying around. This morning, J made a definitive pronouncement: Shadow needs emergency care, and she needs it NOW. So this morning, I cancelled several commitments in Keene so J and I could drive Shadow back to the Angell Animal Medical Center, where we admitted her for intensive care and diagnostic tests after initial blood-work showed her kidney levels to have skyrocketed since Friday.

Tree stump with mushroom

And so, we wait. We have no illusions about Shadow’s long-term prognosis: she’s old, and that’s a terminal condition. Having seen other cats face similar medical issues, J and I know how this story ends; it’s just a question of when and how comfortably that end will come. In the meantime, we spoke with our regular vet after admitting Shadow for emergency care, and the news on MAD is good: after duly slicing, probing, and analyzing every nasty corner of that basketball-sized lump, the veterinary pathologist could find no sign of cancer. In due time, we’ll worry about MAD’s lame leg, which apparently needs the same surgery he had on his other hind leg several years ago. In the meantime, it’s Shadow who has us hanging, wondering when and how her time will come.