Old Dog is very sick. She’s got a heart murmur, is epileptic, suffers from often-acute kidney failure and is on a cocktail of drugs that would shame Ozzy Osbourne. She is also paranoid of anything coming near her mouth and, though nearly toothless, will try and gum you to death. This is surprisingly painful. Hence the tube sticking out from her neck.
Understandably, considering her condition, she spends a lot of time at the vet. Actually, not a vet, but rather the teaching hospital of the Jerusalem University veterinary school. This, surprisingly, is not actually in Jerusalem, but rather is wedged mid-way between Tel-Aviv and the – ahem – delightful city of Rishon Letzion. Her doctor is a rather statuesque lady with a lot of cats. As befits an Israeli cat woman of such standing, she has no social skills whatsoever.
A far from exhaustive list of examples:
1. After admitting her for “24 hours” (turned into two weeks): “She’s not doing as well as I’d like.” What we understood: “she’s gonna die”. What she meant: “well, because of the heart condition we can’t treat her as we’d like, but all things considered, she’s doing amazingly.”
2. After a week of not eating: “Well, we have to look at drastic options. We’ll have to put her to sleep.” What we understood: “she’s gonna die.” What she meant: “We’ll need to anaesthetise her and put a tube in her neck.”
3. Before the tube op: “Don’t worry, I’ll let you know before so you can come and say goodbye.” What we understood: “she’s gonna die.” What she meant: … actually, there was a good chance she was gonna die.
I usually leave quietly sobbing to myself (unpublished authors are notorious softies), and she usually calls me quickly to apologise for any ‘misunderstandings’ (no doubt tipped off by those of her students with fewer cats). But we’re really indebted to her – against all the odds, the dog’s still alive to fart and bite and be grumpy. And pee on the rug.