Nellie Has a Very Bad Day

October 14, 2010
Five Weeks After the Fire

Hello Friends,

Yesterday when I woke up, Nellie was lying on the bed, shaking.  I jumped out of bed and tried to rouse her, but she just shook and whimpered. Oh God, I thought, Oh God, not Nellie. Please don’t let anything be wrong with Nellie.  I can’t take it, I can’t handle it, this would be the worst thing in the world right now. Anything but that. Anything but Nellie.

I threw on some clothes and called the veterinary clinic that I used to use when I lived in town, 20 years ago. Miraculously, Dr. Cathy, the vet who used to take care of my dogs, was in that day.

As I drove to the clinic, I realized that Dr. Cathy and the gals at the clinic didn’t know The Bad News.  I called them back and told them. The receptionist asked “What can we do to help?” I said,  “Just please understand that Nellie is all I have left right now, and the thought that anything is wrong with her is making me a little hysterical. I’m probably going to burst into tears the minute I walk in the door, so be ready.”  “Okay, no problem,” she said kindly.

When I got there Nellie was still shaking violently, and crying whenever I touched her.  I carried her into the clinic and they whisked us right into a room, where I immediately burst into tears.  The vet tech patiently tried to get a description of her symptoms, asked what she had eaten, and explained that Dr. Cathy was in surgery, and I was welcome to drop Nellie off and they would watch her until she could see her in a half hour. “No,” I said, “I’m not dropping her off. I’m staying with her until Cathy can see her. I’ll wait with her in the waiting room, or here in the examining room, or even in the back, but I can’t leave her alone right now,” and I promptly burst into tears once again.

She thought for a moment, and then told me she would go into surgery and see if Cathy was at a place where she could take a break and examine Nellie, and in a few moments she returned and said Cathy could do that.  I was so relieved and grateful that I started to cry – again. (Good thing I have lost all self-consciousness about crying in front of strangers…)

Nellie was lethargic and wide-eyed with pain, and she whisked her away, and I went back into the waiting room.  The tech came out a few minutes later and said that Cathy was recommending x-rays, and she would let me know what the results were.

After about a half hour, Cathy appeared and called me in to an examining room. She showed me the x-rays and explained that Nellie had an unusual looking vertebrae, and that she might have pinched a nerve or hurt a disc in her back. Dogs often show pain by shaking and whimpering, and my poor little girl was in pain, but not in any danger.  She would be fine, with some rest and medication.

I was so relieved and grateful I threw my arms around Cathy and gave her a huge hug, and then (you guessed it) burst into tears.

Then they brought Nellie out to me, still shaking a bit but none the worse for wear. “My Girl!” I cried, and got down on the floor and folded her gently into my arms. She licked my face and wagged a little – I think it hurt to wag. Can you imagine what that’s like for a dog? “Oh, I love you!… Ow, ow… But I do! I love you!… Ow, ow…”   Poor sweet girl.

I got the meds and then took her home, gently loading her into the car.  Saved, I thought.  I am saved. We are saved.  I can face everything now. I can live again. Without Nellie, I don’t know what I would do. I think I would crumble, I think my courage would finally fail.  I would lose my faith in a Benevolent Universe if she were taken from me now. I would go to bed and never want to get up.  All my friends and Irish ancestors wouldn’t be able to help me then.

But I am saved.  Nellie will recover, and after a week of rest and medicine, she will hopefully be right as rain. She will curl up with me each night and nuzzle my face to wake me up each morning. She will smile and wag and not be in pain, and say, as she always does,

“ I love you! I do! Did I tell you I love you? I do!  I love you I love you I love you I love you!”  Lick, lick, wag wag.

Nellie is fine, and Life is Good.

Wishing You a Good Night,

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35 Responses to Nellie Has a Very Bad Day

  1. Greg Wright says:

    Hey you girls! Perhaps you can find a good doggie acupuncturist in town. Pretty effective for back pain (yada, yada, yada).


    PS – your blog site is FABULOUS!!

    • Andi says:

      Hey Greg, Well, then just get on a plane with your needle kit and get out here! Nellie sends you love and tail wags, and so do I (minus the tail wags.)

      Thanks for the love and you are FABULOUS too!

  2. Kathy Kaiser says:

    And now you’ve made me cry. Thank goodness Nellie is OK.

    • Andi says:

      Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Nellie is doing really well after some rest and doggie meds. Whew. She is curled up, asleep on the couch. She is the light of my little life. Take care (handing you a kleenex…) – Andi

  3. Denise Thomas says:

    I LOVE Nellie and I’ve never even met her!

  4. Neil Labadie says:

    I am so glad Nellie is ok! How scared you must have been.

  5. Alyce Barry says:

    A friend sent me this poem today thinking of my mom, and I thought of you.

    The Thing Is
    by Ellen Bass
    to love life, to love it even
    when you have no stomach for it
    and everything you’ve held dear
    crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
    your throat filled with the silt of it.
    When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
    thickening the air, heavy as water
    more fit for gills than lungs;
    when grief weights you like your own flesh
    only more of it, an obesity of grief,
    you think, How can a body withstand this?
    Then you hold life like a face
    between your palms, a plain face,
    no charming smile, no violet eyes,
    and you say, yes, I will take you
    I will love you, again.

  6. Life is going completely nuts in every direction I look. Here’s hoping things settle down!

  7. Lainie Stuart says:

    Dearest Andi and Nellie-girl……
    Now this was an additional nail-biter that we all could have done without!!!!
    Delighted that we’re in the healing mode…..wish I could plant a big pot of
    my “matzo-ball-soup” right in the middle of U’r kitchen ( wouldn’t mind if I
    were holding the pot as well :)
    PS: Thank you Alyce for sharing the magnificent “The Thing Is “……..

    • Andi says:

      Oh, it’s My Lainie in New York! One of my S/heroes! Mwah back atcha girl. Lainie makes the best chicken soup in the Universe, and always spoils me with bagels and lox when I visit. She also spent DAYS talking to me on the phone while I drove cross-country after the fire. Here’s a typical conversation while I was driving, phone headset in my ears, on I-90:

      Lainie: Hey, Andi-girl. How’s the driving going?
      Andi: I don’t know, Lainie, I’m really tired and don’t know if I can even keep it together.
      Lainie: Okay, Girl. How about if we pull over? Is it time for coffee? How about the next gas station…
      Andi: Okay, I see one. Let’s go in and get coffee, okay?
      Lainie: Sounds good, I’m with ya!

      And so on, all the way across Washington, Idaho Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. She kept me sane and called me back whenever I lost the signal over a mountain pass.


      Andi-Girl and Nellie-Girl

  8. Kathryn says:

    I’m glad that Nelly is better. We missed you. I really like the poem.
    Love, Kathryn

  9. Karen Rosga says:

    Oh Andi! I think I actually CAN imagine what this most recent crisis must have felt like for you! Little Nellie-Belly: You heal quickly little girl! Your Ohio canine cousins are woofing for you while their mom and dad are sending caring and love and big, enveloping hugs to your mom. I know it’ll be awhile yet, but the agility world needs the joy of Team Nellie and you both will be back! For now, stock up on the very special dog and people treats and treat yourselves well.

  10. From the first line of this post, I was screaming and crying: “NO! Not Nellie!” Even though I have never met the ador-a-dog, I love her and I love that she is your constant, comforting companion. Here’s to her continual wagging!

  11. Andie,

    Nellie lives! What a great lesson in love, loss, attachment, “enough pain already!”, and choosing Love in the ever present state of life…insecurity. Also thanks for the lovely piece by Ellen Bass. As you know I am dealing with the sudden loss of my very close friend, Gary Steele. After ready your blog, as well as “The Thing is”, I wrote:
    So life is right here, right now, in it’s raw beauty- to love. It gives no promises of perfection or security. It only tells us- I am your mysterious friend. I am full of surprises. I am your adventurous other. Together we can explore. Life cannot explain itself, it can only be trusted as being completely honest. Life doesn’t protect our feelings- it only reveals them. It reminds us of love without conditions. It says, come along friend, let’s play. Let’s not waste a minute more. The winds are blowing and a change is surly in the air. Let’s breathe it in.

    Thanks for your inspiration,

    • Andi says:

      Hi David,

      What a lovely comment and poetic response to Nellie’s story. I am so sorry about your friend. I hope this cool weather brings healing for your heart and soul. Hope to talk to you soon,


  12. Jane Steinbrecher says:

    Scout and I are wishing Nellie a speedy recovery! You spent time with me and my crying outbursts – I’m happy you are sharing yours with me (and others – the blog is fantastic)
    Thinking about you both…..

    • Andi says:

      Hi Jainie! So nice to hear from you. I’m sending Scout big scritches behind those furry ears. I’m glad that both of our difficult doggie stories had happy endings. Hope we can meet by a Big Ocean sometime soon. Love to you, Scout, and Ron-Ron. xo

  13. Anne Breckenridge says:

    What a wonderful happy ending for you and Nellie! I can relate to all the tears and fright. I am going right away to give my little Millie some hugs and kisses. She and I have a pact to stay alive for each other.

    Love U,

    • Andi says:

      Hi Anne,

      Please give little Millie a hug from me too. I love your pact – I think dogs really do live for us sometimes, and we for them. Nellie is my lifeline to sanity these days, along with dear friends like you.

      (Anne came over and stocked my fridge here at the Cottage right after I moved in. It was a lifesaver! I’m just finishing off the last of the frozen food.)

      Sending you love and gratitude,


  14. Melissa Tobin says:

    How is Nellie feeling now? My own sweet pooch is helping me heal from this fire trauma day by day, so your story of Nellie’s pains is particularly poignant for me. Isn’t it wonderful to have a furry friend with a shoulder you can literally cry into? BTW, did you see the glorious rainbow today? As I was fretting about rain and mudslides I saw it and thought, surely this is a sign of better days to come. Hug Nellie and take care.

    • Andi says:

      Hi Melissa,

      Nellie is nearly back to her perky self after several days of rest and can now go on some nice, gentle walks.

      Where was the rainbow? In the mountains or down here in town?

      Thanks so much for reading,


      • Melissa Tobin says:

        So glad to hear about Nellie. The rainbow was a beautiful full arch over the city. It was a relief to see it, as I was coming down the mountain. Take care of yourself and thank you for this beautiful blog.

  15. Piper Bayard says:

    I’m so glad Nellie is going to be ok! Blessings to you both.

  16. Amy Katchur says:

    Oh, so glad Nellie will be just fine, Andi! Our little love animals are so important………I don’t know how I would survived the past year without my little (big:) Leo, who also had to go to the vet recently………I was a wreck, but he’ll be fine, too! Give Nellie an extra pat for me!

  17. Can’t tell you how much your posts about the fire have meant to me, clear over here in Washington. I had a friend who was evacuated from Sunshine Canyon and though she “disappeared,” you gave me a thread of connection. I wept at your post from Yellowstone and cheered when the BMW pirates helped you hunt for “treasure.”

    Through all this, it’s clear that your writing, sharing, creating this blog are among the real treasures emerging from the ashes.

    • Andi says:

      Thanks Diana. Today I was missing the gentle sound of foghorns in Port Townsend, and the soothing fog and calming ocean. I hope I can get back there next summer, in spite of everything.

      I appreciate your comments so much, and send you all the best.

      Stay tuned – a new post is coming today!

      Andi and Nellie

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