As I drove one of my best friends, Max, to his surgery appointment this morning, the theme song from the old TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man, played through my mind. “ . . . Gentlemen we can rebuild him, we have the technology . . . Better than he was before, better, stronger, faster.” Max isn’t an astronaut, and he didn’t endure a severe crash. He ripped his knee ligaments during an athletic romp outdoors, racing at top speed against a friend.
The surgeon told me that the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) requires restructuring the tibia bone below the knee and inserting a chrome pin where bones will rejoin. Fortunately, the surgery will also alleviate pain associated with his degenerative joint disease and arthritis. Max’s bones will heal fine, but it takes about three months for full recuperation with the first eight weeks being the most restrictive. Once his right knee heals, Max will endure a repeat operation on his left knee. Overall, he’ll return to an improved athletic state for the rest of his life.
I’m looking forward to being Max’s nurse. We share a magical bond. Max reminds me to take a walk and exercise when I’m frustrated, and he calms me when my fuse runs short. When our eyes lock onto each other, I feel comforted, almost like a déjà vu. He plays a large part in my writing atmosphere. With a pink-splotched-black tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, he lays by my side, occasionally turning onto his back for a belly rub. Sometimes he nudges his snout between my chair’s armrest and my elbow, telling me it’s time for him to eat, go outside, or get a back scratch.
Some people laugh when they hear how much I’m spending on my dog, but he’s a vital part in my tiny circle of life. In terms of writing he’s priceless. He soothes my surroundings, loves me just for breathing, and teaches my kids a calmness that only animals can convey. Writing wouldn’t be the same if I let him go before his time. In dog years he’s only 42.
How does you pet affect your writing life?