Like a Civil War Field Hospital

One of the downsides to traveling a fair amount is that inevitably something goes down at home while I’m away. Whenever it does, I always say, “Why does stuff like this always happen whenever I go out of town?!” when the reality is that bad stuff rarely happens, and when it does, it’s likelier to happen when I’m around.

Here are a couple examples. Once I got home late after a trip and found a note that Julia was at the hospital. She’d fallen down the stairs, then had to drag herself back to the top, hobble out to the car, and deliver herself to the emergency room. She’d broken her foot. Another time one of our dogs starting acting out of sorts and was delivered to the vet, where Julia learned the beast had swallowed a rock and needed emergency surgery. Then there was the time I got a couple calls from Texas in the middle of the night, which I ignored, only to find out that my kid had landed himself in jail (long story), and the number the jail phone calls out from routes out through Texas. Yeah, that was pretty awesome.

No way am I suggesting that Julia is some wilting flower who needs a man around to take care of things. Hardly. She’s a hell of a lot more capable in most ways when it comes to day-to-day bullshit than I am. It’s just a drag to have to deal with stuff alone, and I always feel a little guilty when I’m not around to pull my weight. Like while I’m sitting in a movie theater, or eating my weight in expense account pizza, she’s dealing with calamity.

One morning this past week while I was in Minnesota, Julia discovered that one of our dogs (coincidentally the same one who’d required emergency surgery as discussed in the preceding anecdote) was bleeding from the back of her leg. Further investigation revealed some kind of cyst, or sore, or abscess, or whatever had busted open and was leaking profusely. This dog, Velcro, is (allegedly) a Jack Russell terrier. She’s also a nutcase. She’s a rescue dog and kind of a whackadoo, but she’s also loving and dear to us. She is gangly and misshapen, frankly, especially at the back end. We’ve always suspected that if any of the dogs ever developed some weird malady, it would be her. Yet she continues stumbling along, and has to be at least 12 or 13 now.

Long story short, Julia took Velcro to the vet. The vet said the wound was clearly infected, that it could be an abscess but could also be a tumor, as they sometimes will swell up and burst. He gave her antibiotics to kill the infection, then once that is under control and the bleeding hopefully stopped, he can investigate further. Velcro came home. The morning I was headed home Julia warned me that Velcro didn’t look so good, and that there would probably be some blood tracked around the house accumulated from the time she left to pick me up at the airport and then we arrived home again some hours later, and that I should be ready.

I really wasn’t prepared for the reality of her words. There were streaks of blood everywhere. The house even smelled like blood. The entire back of one of Velcro’s legs was streaked with it. It was stressful, as anyone with pets who are suffering knows.

Now, a few days removed, the worst is over. She still bleeds a little now and then, but her spirits are back to normal and the house doesn’t feel like a place where limbs have been amputated. She goes back to the vet on Monday to be looked at again. Last weekend, though, we were supposed to attend an Octoberfest party at the home of the woman Julia works with at Betty’s Divine. In explaining to Aimee why we couldn’t make it, Julia provided the following artistic rendering on a sticky note of Velcro’s condition. It’s pretty spot on, right down to the bulbous ass and odd hair patterns. Poor Velcro. Still, the picture’s pretty funny.


Hopefully Velcro doesn’t have a tumor. She’s loving the extra attention, though, particularly the nightly heated butt compress while piled up on Julia’s lap on the couch. We’re hoping for the best, or at least something close to it.


Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

6 thoughts on “Like a Civil War Field Hospital”

  1. What a total drag, but glad Velcro seems to be on the mend. I can tell Julia is more than capable just by how you speak of her, but it’s also nice to know someone always has your six. And you do hers, even if you’re out of town. Sending positive mojo to Velcro.

  2. Cute dog and cool pic. My mom has a “rescue” dog (of sorts as it was rescued from a bad home, not from the pound) and it’s main thing is that it will not come if you call her. Even if you’re just six inches away from her. Plus, she zooms around like she’s had 15 cups of espresso.

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