That Person – Our Pet Emergency

“Please help me!” I yelled as I entered the emergency room. I have never been that person before, but there I stood, tear streaked face, clutching a hard plastic pet cage that shook in my hands. Inside, Hazel, our beautiful tan 16 lbs terrier mutt was convulsing and each spasm extracted a shrill yelp that went straight through my heart. Strangers had seen my desperation and acted with compassion. Someone had pointed out the way, someone had helped my 4-year-old daughter down the stairs and two others opened the glass doors just as we arrived at the pet hospital. In my grasp was the closest thing my girl has to a sibling, we only had her three months and she was dying.

Before they knew names a nurse took Hazel to the back room and the veterinarian started working on her.


Hazel’s piercing yelps filled the entire building. The waiting room full of pets and owners was eerily silent. I threw a piece of folded clear packing tape on the counter. Caught between the glue was a white powdery substance I found on the floor. “She ate something.” I threw two prescription bottles on the desk. “It could be this. Or this. Or . . . ” I searched through my oversized purse wishing it were smaller. Where are you blue supplement bottle? Ah ha. “Or this.”

When the fog cleared I found myself without cellular phone reception in a pristine white exam room. Beside me my daughter was eating pretzels and coloring. Bless them. Hazel’s howls still echoed through the building. I prayed for Hazel to live. I memorized a framed wall photo – close up of a shiny black hairy ape’s hand resting on the shoulder of another very hairy ape. I prayed for Hazel to live. They told me I could use the landline to call people. Bless them. I prayed again. They were going to sedate her to keep her comfortable while they contacted poison control. Bless them. The howling slowly faded. “She’s resting.” The nurse said.

She was still alive.

It was an Apollo 13 situation. Near the end of the film Jim Lovell explains, “Our mission was called ‘a successful failure,’ in that we returned safely but never made it to the moon. In the following months, it was determined that a damaged coil built inside the oxygen tank sparked during our cryo stir and caused the explosion that crippled the Odyssey. It was a minor defect that occurred two years before I was even named the flight’s commander.”

105_6797A few years ago I discovered a supplement that helps me sleep at night and cope better with stress by aiding serotonin replacement — hydroxy tryptophan or 5-HTP. Months before Pardon the Pups rescue sent us the photograph that made us say, “Awwwww,” I dropped one 5-HTP pill behind our bed. This particular Wednesday Hazel crawled under the bed and consumed the forgotten capsule. The traces I picked up with the packing tape facilitated identifying which pill she had eaten. Poison control instructed the clinic. After twenty-four hours and a bill that could send us to the moon, Hazel came home tired, but licking. No long-term affects expected. It was our “successful failure.” We had our doggie back.

Not all failures are successful. Maybe you have been that person at the hospital and come home without your dog, your kitty, your friend, your mom, your husband or your child. I think of you every morning when Hazel whines to go out and I put my feet on the cold floor. Thank you God for bringing Hazel back to us. Be with those who are missing someone. Comfort those who cannot be comforted.

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