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Chapter 20


Last year, around this same time, I wrote about being a ”Dog Dad” to Gabe in honor of Father’s Day. Sometimes being a pet parent is easy like when we take our daily walks. Gabe runs beside of or ahead of me while I drive the golf cart. Other times, the duties of a Dog Dad a re extremely difficult.

Gabe’s recent visit to the emergency vet is a perfect example. In late April, I arrived home on a Friday afternoon from handcycle training and Gabe was not his usual energetic self. Sure, he greeted me and asked to be petted, but that Chessie rambunctiousness that is a hallmark of the breed was missing. Gabe was acting like a “normal” dog. I knew something was wrong but hoped it was nothing major and would pass in time.

Several hours later, however, as I was leaving for work, Gabe was worse. So, I called my boss and told him I could not cover the baseball game that night and Mom, Dad and I jumped in the van and went to the Emergency Vet in Ashville NC, over an hour away from where we live in Henrietta. During that seemingly endless drive to Asheville, I sat next to him in the van giving him what love, comfort and reassurance that I could. Growing up on a farm, I had seen animals die. It’s a part of life. I had to have my first Chessie-mix Molly put to sleep, but she was 18 and had health problems. Gabe is less than two years old and healthy. I could not imagine losing him.

When we arrived at VEG (Veterinary Emergency Group), I was not sure quite what to expect. All of the other vet visits I have made with my pets over the years have been to our local practice during regular business hours (except for Virus the duck, but that’s another story).

Gabe didn’t know what to expect either. He was nervous and cautious as the staff did an initial evaluation. The kind and caring doctor and staff eventually decided that Gabe had eaten something he wasn’t supposed to and needed to take X-Rays to determine what it was and where it was in Gabe’s digestive tract.

Then the waiting began. After the X-Rays, Gabe was fitted with a lampshade and given IV fluids while the X-Rays were sent digitally to California to be read. As the hours dragged by, I wondered if this is how a parent felt waiting with their child in the Emergency Room? Not having any kids of my own, I don’t know for sure, but I imagine it’s similar.

At 1 AM Saturday morning, it was decided that  Gabe should stay overnight. Then came the sticker shock of paying the bill.  As a freelance journalist, I do not make much money so the bill was about 10 months’ worth of my annual salary. However, I paid it without hesitation because Gabe is worth a lot more to me than mere money. Sure, I have had to make sacrifices as I work to slowly pay off the bill. I used the money I had been saving for a long-awaited overseas trip. I canceled streaming services and even sold the Panthers’ tickets to the one game I go to per season. I did not mind making these sacrifices because that’s what fathers do.

Gabe repaid me in full the next morning when I picked him up by jumping in my lap and washing my face as a nurse tried unsuccessfully to hold him back. Gabe was going to be fine. Turns out, he had eaten a piece of tin foil with ham drippings on it. As a staff member helped Mom and me walk Gabe out to the car, I told her about Arin’s Good Girl Dog Treats and gave her a bag to share with the patients that come in. So, some good was able to come out of Gabe’s misfortune as Arin’s passion and wonderful treats continue to spread.

I am happy to report that it has been nearly a month since Gabe’s Emergency Vet visit. He is back to his normal Chessie self, digging holes as he searches for moles, chasing squirrels, birds and deer, along with his many other antics that make Gabe who he is. Suffice it to say, I am one proud and happy Dog Daddy.


Happy Father’s Day!  

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