Spring seems to have sprung, which means birthday season in our house is about to commence (“Birthday Season: Part Deux” runs almost continuously from October through December). However, I didn’t quite realize that this year we would be including one more special day in our vernal celebrations. After perusing the paperwork that arrived with our newly-adopted canine, Rex, we discovered that we have actually added another Aries to the mix.
I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me that we had somehow welcomed in yet another someone with a March/April birthday. My side of the family seems to have started an Aries collection with the birth of my first child, Jack. In fact, since April 2003, five of the eight individuals added to the family roll call have been born under the sign of the ram. Rex makes six.
I especially shouldn’t have been surprised considering the way our flat-coated retriever has fit our family like a glove since the moment he arrived. The similarities are uncanny in many a way, some good and some not so good. Within the first few weeks, it became obvious that Rex has our dry skin, loves the snow, likes to be outside (but not for long) and appreciates a good meal.
As we head into our fourth month together, Rex’s characteristics have started getting even more eerily similar to members of our clan. Upon adoption, we were informed that he had some storm anxiety and some separation anxiety. However, during the initial adjustment it was hard to tell what was just a dog in a new situation and what was Rex. Time has proven that he is, indeed, an anxious fellow who prefers company nearby, especially during a storm.
A smorgasbord of anxieties is something we are all too familiar with in our household, so our frightened friend of the furry kind certainly found the right people to love him and hold his big ol’ paw in times of trouble. Of course, we don’t actually hold his paw, because that really freaks him out. I’ve always felt somewhat responsible for the obsessive-compulsive tendencies displayed by Sebastian, a cat we adopted as a young kitten (e.g., refusing to eat if even the slightest speck of the bottom of his food dish is visible). However, Rex already had almost five years of worldly experience under his collar when he joined our tribe, so our family is apparently a constant magnet for the Nervous Nellies of the world.
We also seem to have a magnetic attraction to Murphy’s Law and spend a good deal of time proving its validity. After 13 years of convincing my husband, Mike, that a dog would not necessarily impose the financial burden he had built up in his mind, Rex quickly reinforced his fears. On a day when I was dealing with my youngest’s stomach flu, Mike kept calling to ask me if I had seen Rex pee lately. Um, no, but I’ve seen Lucy puke twice. Does that help you out?
In fact, the sarcasm in my head did not help him, so he came home at lunch to check on the Rex urination situation (or lack thereof) himself. After reluctantly returning to work, I finally joined in on the “Keep Track of Rex’s Every Move” game. Huh, I guess despite wanting to go out every five minutes, he really wasn’t peeing. Yet, he was continuing to drink water. Indeed, a dangerous state of canine affairs seemed to be upon us.
As I arose from my stomach flu caregiving stupor and out of my the-dog-also-has-a-problem denial, I began to realize that Rex was even refusing to sit or lie down and was now just pacing the house with a concerned look on his face (even more so than usual). “Um, yeah, Honey, this isn’t looking too good. You better come take him to the vet.”
An X-ray, urinalysis, sedation, catheterization, ultrasound and hundreds of dollars later, the vet discovered … nothing. Aside from a very slight urinary tract infection, there were no blockages, no obvious anatomical anomalies and no definitive answer.
Well, that seems about right.
My personal diagnosis is that something scared our gentle giant, he became too scared to “go” for a while and then kind of forgot how, a classic anxiety episode if I’ve ever seen one. The only confusing part for me is that our family Scorpios are usually the anxious ones, being tested for everything and finding nothing. Our Aries are usually the ones breaking bones by jumping in a single bound and, in the tradition of the ram, stopping car doors with their foreheads. Fingers crossed that this dog isn’t a little (or a lot) of both.
Shannon and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.