Bella's on the floor, trembling, her legs flailing. She's having a seizure, something her vet has said is not uncommon with beagles. As long as they don't get more frequent, everything will be fine.
I pick her up and cradle her in my arms, as I always do. We know the drill. She'll shake violently for a few minutes, then stop. I'll plop her down on the ground, she'll walk, still a little shaky, to the door. She knows the seizure has made her lose control of her bodily functions, and she doesn't want to poop in the house.
Which is what happens. But after bringing her back in, she has another seizure. Then another, more violent. Her limbs twist as I hold her, the ferocity of her shaking causing my own body to tremble. Her mouth foams, she pees on me, and I cuddle her tighter, convinced at this moment that there is no greater love than what I feel for her.
Janie watches, and says she'll pray for Bella. I find myself doing the same, making every conceivable promise to God in exchange for this dog's life. I bawl like a fucking baby, pulling Bella tighter to my chest, mumbling, "Precious baby, love you, baby girl" over and over like a mantra, as if my words can make somehow make this stop.
Still. Somewhere my mind shuffles awful thoughts. Vet bills, meds, money I don't have. The credit cards are maxed out. How am I going to pay for this? What does she need? Can she be cured, or is this going to be a permanent condition? If she's like this all the time, will she...that is...can she live like this?
Her tremors become more intense, each worse than the last, and then her body goes limp, followed by an awful stillness. "Oh God, no!" I cry, my tears dropping onto her matted fur, already sopping wet with drool and pee.
Big brown eyes peer up at me. She inhales deeply, the tail half-heartedly wags. She raises her head and licks away my tears. I place her gently on the ground and she marches unsteadily to the door, then turns and looks at me, one long ear flopping over her tilted head, as if to say, "Come on! I gotta go!"
I grab her leash and we head outside. She takes the steps down from the deck carefully, but her stride becomes more certain as she moves through the grass. She does her business, then marches forward, head down, nose working overtime.
Scenting. Something has been in the grass, and she means to track it, tugging hard at her leash, doing what she was meant to do, as all good beagles must. I pull her leash in a different direction, back to the house, and she doesn't put up a fight.
She knows we both need rest.