Thursday, February 5, 2009

Life: The Roller-Coaster

Most of the time, life is pretty simple here in the islands. We live a little slower and take notice of nature a little longer. But sometimes, we all have one of those Jack Bauer hours that kind of takes your breath away. Yesterday evening was one for me. I was about to knock off from the keyboard to feed my five dogs when I heard the youngest puppy, Snyper, let out one short but ear piercing shriek. I looked out the back door to find him looking very ill, eyes unable to focus, trembling, sitting next to what appeared to be fresh "upchuck." He's only about 4 or 5 months old, my husband rescued him when he found him screaming in pain with his head stuck in a cyclone fence. He brought him home to me the day after I had returned from a long trip to Texas. We both really loved the little guy.

It took just seconds for me to realize that he, like 7 other dogs of mine, had been poisoned and would die a tragically painful death if I didn't work some magic very quickly. I called to my husband who was feverishly trying to finish his day's work in the vegetable garden before the sun set. I called to him, "Quick, come, Snyper's been poisoned."

When a crisis strikes, I am stoic, I am in control, I am emotionless, I am ready. Good crisis training in my past really has paid off for me in critical life and death moments such as this. But not Johnny. No sir, when the situation is most critical, he explodes with rage and blame and curses and refuses to help. This way, if the dog dies, it is all my fault. Typical guy thought process.

So I am trying to bathe the bodily fluids off of the little pup, while cradling him in my beach towel with the map of the Caribbean, while Johnny is carrying on about how I should have had all the dogs tied to keep them from roaming to the neighbor's farm where rat poison was apparently hidden in a juicy piece of chicken to rid the world of one more troublesome dog.

Twenty minutes of pouring milk with lime, milk with egg and charcoal water down the puppy's throat, we remembered a small bottle of an anti nausea liquid from Barbados, called Gravinate. It saved the last one who was poisoned. There was just one tiny dose left in the bottle. We added it to the baby bottle which still had a little milk inside. I held him and opened his clenched jaws with my fingers. Down it went, just a little spilled while he rocked his head furiously. I knew anything going down those poison-burned pipes must hurt terribly. Poor little baby. He took it like a man.

I was out of town when my two little baby puppy girls were poisoned and died. Only the male from that litter lived, because Johnny got this little bottle of Gravinate from his sister and quickly administered it to Brinkley. Johnny knew it was going to save Snyper's life. I wasn't as convinced.

While I was sending up prayers to God and frantically sending messages on my writer's forum asking for prayers, Johnny started feeding the pup milk and dry dog food. Thirty minutes later, he downed a small bowl of rice and lentil peas. I couldn't believe my own eyes. None of our dogs had ever had any sign of this much recovery. Another 10 or 15 minutes passed, and I lifted him from his bed and sat him outside, coaxing him to "go pee-pee." He was thoroughly checked out by the other dogs, and started his normal rumble and tumble with them.

Now I could fall apart and cry. And I did. I save mine all up for when everything is ok. That's when I go to pieces. I couldn't eat, hadn't all day. So I finally fell asleep in mental exhaustion. Before the sun even thought about rising, I was awoken by the sound of a tiny baby. What? Oh, we had been expecting our goat to give birth any day for a few weeks. I fought my way out of bed through the mosquito netting, and tiptoed to the door. I didn't want to wake Johnny, I knew as soon as I went to sleep, he was on the laptop downloading music and making CD's for some friends until very late.

I peered out the door, and there under the light of that bountiful West Indian moon, was the sign of a tiny life. I went back to the bed and whispered in Johnny's ear, "Lilly gave birth." He nodded and begrudgingly pulled himself from his dreams and went outside. "Look, there's two!"

Oh how nice, we were really only expecting one kid judging from the size of Lilly's belly, so two was a nice surprise. He made sure everyone was safe and we went back to try to sleep. Just a few hours later, I still heard an insistent cry. Johnny woke at the same time and went outside. I watched, two babies were with their mother.

Johnny said, "There's another here somewhere." And down a little hill behind the dog house, which is only ever used as a rain shelter for goats, he found the prettiest little female goat, all black with very creative white markings. Over night, we had acquired three new goats, and saved the life of one dog.

Although it was only 4:00am, I put on a pot of coffee and fired up the laptop. Johnny snored peacefully while I was too exhausted to even sleep. How does Jack do it?

No comments: