What About Pippen?

“What about me? Asked Pippen, who stood in the middle of the living room, wagging her tail at the strangers who had come in the middle of the night. “What are you doing with my mommy? Why are you taking her away? What am I supposed to do here by myself?”

The paramedics were gentle as they probed my stomach. They smiled at Pippen and told her everything was going to be okay. I was off to the hospital for what turned out to be an emergency appendectomy, but Pippen needed to stay behind. Yes, she would have been allowed to come with me, except for the time when I was getting a cat scan and when I was in the OR, but it really would have been awkward. Unless you have a family member or a friend to take care of the dog’s needs for the duration of the hospital visit, it makes much more sense to leave her behind, providing there would be someone to take care of her at home. That night when I was whisked off to the hospital, I was hoping I would be admitted, so I immediately started thinking of how I was going to handle making sure Pippen was fed and let outside, at least for that day. It’s hard to make these kinds of plans, when an appendectomy wasn’t on my agenda. She trusts me though, and while I’m sure she was sad, she also knew that eventually someone would come to rescue her. And he did.

At 7:00 that morning, after I had been admitted and it was determined that I needed surgery, I called my son, and my worries were over. Since Steve has a key to my house, he came home on his lunch hour and took care of Pippen before coming to the hospital to check on me. Then that night, before coming to see me, he took her to his house, where she spent the night comfortably by his side. Who knows what goes through a dog’s mind? We can only guess that she was confused and concerned. She has had to spend the night without me before, so she might have assumed this was one of those times when she wasn’t invited to go, like when I go on a cross country ski trip.

There are dog guide users who would never consider leaving their dog behind, no matter what, if for no other reason than that by law, they are permitted wherever the public is allowed. They also might not have anyone they can ask to take care of the dog. I am so grateful that I did, because over and over that day, I kept wondering what on earth I would do if Pippen had had to come with me. She would have been in the way, in the tight quarters of the examining rooms. She wouldn’t be able to lead me anywhere, i.e. do her job, because I was wheeled around on a bed, and besides, I was in a great deal of pain. Who would have taken her outside? What would they have done with her while I was in surgery?

When I had my thyroid removed two years ago, my daughter was with me. (This surgery had been planned). I brought Pippen with me to the hospital, but Kara took care of her all day while I was in the operating room and recovery. Then she took her home at the end of the day, after Pippen could see that I was okay. Kara said that Pippen was actually a help to other families as they waited for their loved ones to come out of surgery. Pippen has never met a stranger and is always eager to wag her tail and smile at you. Families wer cheered when they saw her sweet little face and happy demeanor.

She was one happy dog when we were reunited after this 32-hour ordeal at the hospital, but she was also a little disappointed. I think she thought it was kind of fun having a sleep-over at Steve’s, and now it was back to work as usual. But dogs thrive on routine, so we’re both glad to be back in the groove.

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