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A Premonition?

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Yesterday morning started out normal, almost. I woke up with the memory of a disturbing dream. I was walking Nickolas, our cocker spaniel, down a long faded green hall. It reminded me of an old high school corridor, or maybe an old office building. It had a polished dirty brown vinyl tile floor. There were exposed fluorescent lights, the long two-lamp kind that flicker and make a lot of ballast noise. At the end of the hall was a metal door with a reinforced glass window in the top half. The bottom of the door had one of those metal kick plates. It seemed to be dented and had black marks on it. The door that opened into the hall was slightly ajar. The hall was long and Nickolas seemed impatient; he kept tugging at his leash. As the door got closer he suddenly jerked the leash out of my hand and went running for the door, with me right behind him, calling to him. Just as I was about to grab his leash he made it through the door, leash and all, and it slammed shut. I tried to open it but it was locked. The window, which had until now been dark, began to glow with a white light. I put my face up to it and could see a huge wall-less white space. There were many, many dogs in there, all kinds, most of them white, running back and forth, jumping around, some chasing each other. I desperately looked for my dog and caught a glimpse of him just as he was headed deeper into this space. I called to him but there was no reaction. I started kicking the bottom of the door and banging on the glass but it didn't do any good. The window went dark and I woke up.

Diane was standing by the bed with Nickolas' leash in her hand. It was time for him to go to the vet to get his teeth cleaned and while under the anesthesia to also have this large fatty lump removed from his left side. Both these procedures were routine. He had been through it all before some four years earlier. Diane wasn't worried about it; she had been pushing me to get it done. My only objection was the cost, but then I object to the cost of most things in life. As I set there in the bed, the money wasn't what was worrying me.

I reached over to Nickolas and said a quick prayer.

"Do you want me to go with you?" I asked.

"No, we will be fine... won't we, pup?" Diane responded as she snapped on the leash.

"We are late, better get moving."

An obviously reluctant Nickolas jumped off the bed. A few seconds later I heard the front door squeak and click shut.

"I have a bad feeling about this," I told myself. However, it could just be an overactive imagination.

At about 8:15 a.m., I was sitting where I am now, at my computer when Diane arrived back at the house. She told me that Nick would be at the vets until about 5 p.m. They were not sure when his procedure would start, but it might be early afternoon.

At around 10 a.m. the phone rang. Diane answered it after seeing Churchland Animal pop up on the caller ID, which displays on our TV. I heard her talking and gathered something was wrong, so I went into the living room and sat down in front of her.

It seems that they almost lost our dog while on the table. Usually the procedure is to give an injection to make him still and kill any pain, and then they administer a gas once the injection takes effect. They did that this time, but just after the injection his heart rate doubled. It went from 128 beats per minute to over 260 beats per minute. A momentary heart rate spike is not unusual, but this time his heart rate would not come down. After two minutes of this, even after the gas was started, they could not bring it down. They had to bring him out before his heart arrested. The vet, to use his words, was starting to feel a bit panicky himself. Nickolas gave him a scare, but by the time they called us his heart rate has started to come down and they expected it be back to normal shortly. He was alert, but panting a lot, and they wanted to keep him a few more hours to observe him. Diane asked a few questions, but they had no real answers to what happened. They could only surmise that maybe his heart had an electrical malfunction, or he had a reaction to the pain meds, although he had not had one four years earlier. The cause was just not known.

Diane said thank you, hung up the phone, and broke down in tears.

I was shocked, but then I realized I must have known something was going to happen.

As usual, when I don't understand something, I jumped on the Internet and started searching. Could this have been caused by some medication that Nickolas has been taking? Or could he have an enlarged heart, a condition called DCM that cockers can get when they get older? What caused us to almost lose our best little friend?

I don't know. I suspect it will not be easy to find out. I do know that God answered my prayer: He looked after Nickolas.

Neither Diane nor I are prepared to live without him.

The vet called back around 3 p.m., and this time I took the call. Nickolas' heart rate was back to normal, but the doctor said he would still like to observe him for a couple more hours and then we could come for him.

After and anxious two-hour wait and a short drive to the vet's office, we picked up our pup at five o'clock. We first had a talk with the Doctor, who pretty much reviewed what he had told us on the phone.

Nickolas came out of the back, very happy to see us, and we were overjoyed to see him.

He hopped in the car, and we went to a local Red Box to rent a comedy, because we needed a laugh after the day's events. We also picked up a cooked chicken and some side salads at the local Kroger. The smell of the chicken drove Nickolas, who had been on a fast from the night before, crazy. I think that was a good sign.

As of this morning our dog isn't quite is old self yet. He seems a bit groggy and tired. It's no wonder, after what he has been through. He is probably wondering what he did to deserve a day like yesterday, but like most dogs he will forgive us pretty quickly.

When we leave on our next RV trip, I am sure he will be where he always is, on his mom's lap, looking out the big window at the passing world.

Thank God for that.

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You had me worried about Nickolas, the way this blog entry started out. I'm glad he's okay. I guess teeth cleaning -- like any other procedure involving anaesthesia -- isn't always routine. This gives me another excuse, besides the cost -- not to have my dog's done.

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Nickolas is doing pretty good today. We have come to realize he doesn't hear very well any longer, and that he is now an elderly dog. We don't think we want to risk another try at any more procedures that require anaesthesia. I think I will just have to get him some smoked beef bones and see if they will help his teeth.

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