On Sunday night we woke up and something was wrong. We thought it was a seizure because he had had seizures before. When Joe realized that he wasn’t walking properly, he took him to the emergency vet. I stayed at home with the baby and waited. And waited. And waited.

By 4 am Joe was home, dog-less. Henry was still at the clinic and it looked like things would be okay.

Before 9 am I got a voicemail telling me he was resting comfortably and the vet would call us back once they had checked in on him. We were relieved. Everything seemed to be getting better and we might have a bit of recovery ahead of us, but our dog was still alive.

And then the vet called.

I was taking a nap after a very long night and the phone woke me up. I answered it expecting the vet to tell me that we could come and pick Henry up, or maybe that they wanted to keep him for observation for another night. Instead the vet told me that he wasn’t improving. He couldn’t put weight on either of his back legs and his eyes weren’t responding to stimulus. Our choice was to have her guess at treatment, to transfer him to another emergency clinic in town that they told us could do an MRI, or to take him to a neurologist in Montreal.

At this point it really felt as though we were on some veterinary version of House.

We transferred to the other Ottawa clinic who told us, after an hour or so of waiting, that they thought it was two separate problems – one in his back and one in his brain. After consulting with a surgeon the doctor told us that they didn’t feel comfortable operating on his back until they knew what was wrong with his brain. And that they didn’t, in fact, have an MRI machine, and that we would be driving to Saint-Hyacinthe on the other side of Montreal. So we did.

It was one of the most un-fun car rides I’ve ever experienced. The dog cried and the baby cried and at one point I thought he was going to die right there on the front seat. It seemed like forever until we got to the clinic, and then even longer before we talk to a vet. They told us he was in pain, he was scared and he wouldn’t be able to see the neurologist until the next day. At 10 o’clock that night we found our way to a hotel in Saint-Hyacinthe. At almost 11 the baby was asleep, until she woke up at 12 and then at 3 am and then at 6:45 when I took her downstairs to the complimentary breakfast. (As a side note, the Holiday Inn Express is actually a really nice hotel, with a complimentary breakfast that beats any other I’ve seen). She had a stuffed up nose and she’s still working on her two top front teeth which are causing fevers and all kinds of pain. At this point it’s been a couple of days since any one of us has slept more than 2 hours at a time.

Yet another vet called around 10 am, telling us that they wanted to do more blood work on Henry because they suspected it might be three problems, not two, and that they would call around noon to tell us if he was ready for the MRI. We went to lunch and then for a drive and eventually got the call. They wanted us to come in to see him, take him out for a walk, and tell them if he seemed to be in pain. They couldn’t tell if he was in pain or just terrified.

We went to the clinic and sat in a room for a while, and suddenly I heard a familiar collar jingle. I greeted him at the door and he greeted me the way Henry always does – no holds barred. He was himself. After a short walk and a bit of a sit we both decided that he didn’t seem to be in pain, that you couldn’t really tell anything was wrong with him, except for the fact that he didn’t have the use of his two back legs.

They told us that whatever was abnormal with his blood was normal now. Whatever the other vets has seen in his eyes they couldn’t see. They told us that what they thought was wrong with his legs would more than likely fix itself. And we got to drive home with our dog.

And we got to hit the after school rush hour in Montreal and the post-work rush hour in Ottawa.

And we got home and I made the puppy comfortable and Joe put the baby to bed and went out to get us something to eat. And the baby woke up about 20 minutes later and proceeded to scream and cry and wail for hours off and on until we gave her some Advil which seemed to be what she needed, because she slept for about six hours after that.

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