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Dogs and Old Lace

FRIDAY: I’m preparing the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten’s, recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon. For the first time in almost a year, my tiny house is alive with the smells of chopped garlic and yellow onions, simmering in bacon fat. I know… Not exactly the beginnings of a meal designed to lessen my risk of recurrence, but it gets better, or worse, depending on your point of view. I still need to add a bottle of Cabernet, half a cup of Cognac and two pounds of red meat. Because this inspired dish rises to the ‘Heaven on Earth’ category the second day, I’ve invited my friend Rob for dinner tomorrow. Rob and I’ve been buddies since college. It was Rob and his friends, I affectionately call them ‘the River Oaks Boys,’ who inspired me to learn to cook well. Give any of the River Oaks Boys a bag of random ingredients, and they’ll deliver you a gourmet treat.

SATURDAY: This isn’t where I saw this blog, or this day going. I didn’t sleep last night because I’m on “poop and vomit patrol.” I wasn’t going to mention it, but while I was having Thanksgiving at a friend’s, my dog Goldie ate 15 square feet of a 150-year-old sheer lace summer spread that hangs behind my bed. The logistics of how this big girl got behind my bed is still a puzzlement, but her life is now in danger.

The vet says I must monitor Goldie’s bowel movements until she either passes the lace and/or begins to vomit and moan in agony. If the lace becomes entangled in her intestines, she will need emergency surgery, and because of her advanced age, there’s no guarantee she’ll survive surgery or the weeks of needed rehab. To do surgery now will further put her life in danger, so for the next few days, it’s wait and see. To help her pass this massive quantity of lace, I’m feeding her small meals every four hours to which I’m adding Metamucil. Every hour, or so, I take her outside and poke through her now frequent feces with a stick, searching for remnants of lace. If the lace doesn’t kill her, I fear she’ll explode from all of the food I’m feeding her. Other than watching me watch her, for the time being, Goldie seems to be fairing better than I am.

It’s been 11 months, today, since James died, and I’m not ready to lose another loved one. I never had children, so my dogs are my kids, my family. James always said, “Goldie’s our smart dog,” and she is. I wish she could talk because, clearly, she knows she’s in trouble. My vets are on call, but I worry her situation will ratchet up another notch in the middle of the night. I read a book on my iPad, then pull the bed away from the wall, yet another time, hoping against hope the bulk of the lace is stuck somewhere under the bed.

My Boeuf Bourguignon has become a casualty of the poop patrol. In between looking for lace in the cold rain, I lost tract of how much salt I added, so my gourmet feast is inedible. I call Rob and cancel dinner. After describing Goldie’s crisis, Rob tells me he’s having a crisis of his own. Bozo, his clownfish, is listing to starboard in Rob’s new salt water aquarium. Just when he thinks she’s a gonner, she rights herself for a time, only to list to starboard again. We vow to keep one another posted.

I try to remember all the odd things my vet says dogs consume, and survive, like garden hoses, corncobs and jump ropes, but I’m still worried. While a few remnants of lace are beginning to appear, 98 percent has not. I dread tomorrow. We’ll be closer to resolving her problem, but what if that resolution kills her?

SUNDAY: I didn’t go to church today so I can continue to feed and monitor Goldie. She’s my dear friend, my best girl, and she trusts me to take good care of her. I hope she knows how much I love her. She’s smart and funny, with a great sense of humor, something neither Sam nor Molly have. I ask God to “Please let her be alright.” She’s a major part of what’s made me and my tiny house come alive again. I still need this precious girl in my life.