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Cauta is lying in his usual spot, framed in the doorway. I go toward him and sit next to him, he swishes his tail and shuffles to get up. As he does he yelps loudly. I am in shock, what happened? What hurt? What did I do? He staggers away, leaving me concerned and confused. I call my partner, ‘I think there’s something wrong with C’. We both gather next to him, gazing, discussing observations. He was playing this morning, running in circles with the other dogs. His new found freedom still a novelty. How did this happen?  He gets up again, and yelps again, more sharply this time.

It is a blow. Both sickening and heartbreaking to hear him cry. We gingerly inspect him for injuries; nothing seems out of place, he lets us touch him without flinching. We decide to let him rest, perhaps he pulled a muscle?

Later that day we go to get in the car, and he stumbles down from his usual effortless hop onto the back seat. We abort mission. He leans to still go out, so we decide a short walk round the block, we turn down the street and he stands still, looking disconsolate. We turn back.

It’s our first health scare and it knocks us hard. Things were going so well, and it seems cruel that that has now been curtailed. We cancel his agility session, his group walks. We shorten his usual walks, much to his disapproval. He is frustrated and seems desperate.

Knowing dogs carry pain stoically, often not betraying how much it hurts, means when he is crying it means it hurts. It really hurts.

The next morning I call the vet in tears. He is reluctant to get up from lying, placing his head in my hands, unusually asking for touch. He then stands by the door, practically fetching the lead himself. Once out he is slower, but seems to enjoy walking and sniffing, eager to meet other dogs as usual, frustrated when it’s time to turn home, as usual.

At the vets no questions can be answered yet, ‘cause unknown’, but we leave with a stash of drugs, a strict diet and ‘watchful waiting’.

Over the next few days he goes up and down, sometimes seemingly back to how we know him, sometimes laying in the corner, panting and looking at us beseechingly. It feels like the hardest part is not knowing, not being able to know what hurts or how to help. What is he asking when he looks at us that way? He is suffering, and to stay in the presence of that, but feel powerless to help is hard.

So far his pain seems less, but the stomach chaos is still evident. If he ever has a solid offering again we may have to throw a party.

I wonder how long this has been going on for him. Is it something he has always carried, that has now intensified? Or is it a new issue that has developed? For now our questions remain unanswered.


Cauta not looking so happy