Last Wednesday Dog had her spay surgery, which went fine except for the part where I had to hand her leash over to the nice vet assistant and walk away while Dog tucked her tail between her legs, tried to follow me, was brought up short, and looked at me, you know, with her face. Then I picked her up several hours later and she walked over to me, all druggy and confused, and pressed her nose against my legs, like thank god you’re back you won’t BELIEVE what they did to me. O, the guilt.

Anyway, she recovered nicely but they sent me home with this GIANT sheet of heavy clear plastic with strips of velcro running down the sides. This was Dog’s Elizabethan collar, a.k.a. the cone of shame. It was intended to stop her from licking or biting her incision, but when I put it on the next day — not without a struggle, getting the ends to overlap enough to attack the velcro was nearly impossible — she just … stood there, head hanging straight down towards the floor. I don’t actually think it was physically too difficult to lift, but she was weighted down with SORROW. It really did feel torturous, and it somehow made it worse that she patiently endured it instead of trying to get away from us.

Labs mostly come in four modes: 1) YAY, 2) derp, 3) zzzzzzz, and 4) WOE. But there’s Lab woe like Oh jesus is that a slice of turkey wow it looks really good by the way I am literally starving to death and there’s I don’t know why you’re hurting me but I love you anyway woe. That’s the kind of woe we were causing her with that ridiculous cone, which I suppose she may have eventually gotten used to but in the meantime all she could do was stand in one place all spooky-like, sort of like the end of The Blair Witch Project. Even JB, who isn’t nearly as much of a sucker as I am, shook his head and said sympathetically, “Legit shits the bed, Dog.”

I found some sort of inflatable donut collar at the pet store to try instead, but then a clever friend on Instagram shared that she’d put an old t-shirt on her dog instead of using the cone. An easy, comfortable, free solution that’s also hilarious-looking? SOLD. So that’s why Dog has been sporting one of JB’s shirts for the last few days. I think she looks quite nice.

dog smock

like, OBVIOUSLY a smock

The Hanes tag? They're branching out. Into post-surgical veterinary supplies.

JB: “Is that my shirt?”
Me: “No, of course not. That is a smock. A medical dog smock. From the medical dog smock store.”

Ruby’s prior owner gave us this massive folder that included her medical records, AKC stuff, and what amounts to a nicer scrapbook than I ever made for my own children. Photos, glittery stickers, the whole nine yards. There are printed poems and quotes scattered throughout, and here is one I can’t read without my eyes getting hot and my nose starting to run:

Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say, “I cannot bear to watch,” or “Let it happen in my absence.” Everything is easier for me if you are there, even my death.

When an animal shows you nothing but love, it’s so hard to cause them discomfort. You know it’s for their benefit, but they don’t. All they know is they trust you. God, it’s a big responsibility, you know? And now I know why dogs get fat, it’s because we want to give them ALL THE TURKEYS to try and tell them, thank you, I’m sorry, I love you too.

I have never had food. It is very sad.

Today JB took the day off work and went to the cabin with the boys, leaving me with a blissfully quiet house all day. The timing couldn’t be more perfect and I love when life’s road-bumps just sort of smooth themselves out a little by delivering some zen right when you need it. (Of course, sometimes it works the other way too, but let’s just focus on the positive here.) I took advantage of the solitude — even the dog has been gone at the vet all day for her spay surgery — by cleaning the house and catching up on laundry, and I realize exactly how lame that sounds, but man, it’s so incredibly satisfying to do those things when you can actually enjoy the results for a little while.

In between writing assignments and folding clothes, though, I found myself staring blankly into space a few times. The house was so silent, so utterly devoid of movement and life, and I wondered how things will really be when school starts back up in September. For the first time since I started working from home, both kids will be in school full time, and while I have been greatly looking forward to the exotic experience of getting things done without a cacophonous amount of background noise and distractions, I realize too that it will be an adjustment.

Will I revel in the luxury of having 6-7 hours of freedom each day? Or will I be achingly lonely? Will I take advantage of this new schedule to expand my freelance career or find other rewarding ways to invest my time? Or will I end up feeling invisible, isolated, and more than a little useless?

I suspect the answer will be “All of the above, at one time or another.” I mean, that’s kind of how things go, right? Balancing work and home and parenthood is always a mixed bag, wherever you’re coming from. But it does feel like my options will open up this year. The road can be bumpy sometimes, but who knows where it will lead? Maybe the best places yet are just around the corner.

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