Friday 20 September 2019

Bairbre Power: 'I kept repeating: 'I've killed my dog, I've killed my dog'... BBQ's are officially banned in my house'

Mid Life

Baibre with her dog Romy
Baibre with her dog Romy
Bairbre with her Yorkshire terrier Romy
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

I'm not superstitious by nature but when when it comes to magpies, if I see one on its own, I always tug on my blonde-painted, silver haired forelock. Over the weekend, I kept seeing single ones but didn't dwell on it. It was sunny. I had things to do, like buy deckchairs and sit and read Bill Clinton's novel. Finally.

I have favourite, almost lucky times of the year that I look forward to because things always seem to go well for my family. Like March, the month when my two children were born, the days become longer and we get out more. And June's always been lucky with a string of great holidays.

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Easter, however, has never quite been lucky for us. We just seem a little jinxed no matter where the holiday falls during April. There was the Easter we set off to road test a new yellow car. The car's engine cut out and we were stuck on the side of a road for two hours in baking sunshine, waiting for the pick-up truck to arrive.

Then there was the year the kids were small and we were living in Cork. We set off for the lovely Fota Island Zoo, but the Easter winds got the better of us and we all spent the rest of the holidays in bed with colds and chest infections. You know the Irish. Show us a bit of sunshine and we peel off the clothes and go out without sunblock.

This Easter, I had such high hopes. I cleared the decks and embraced Good Friday sunshine with an early picnic by the sea followed by an evening BBQ in the garden. Ah, this Mediterranean vibe was just what the doctor ordered. Did I feel sorry for those who had flown off to foreign sunny climes only to be greeted by rain and grey skies? No, not in the least. How often does the thermometre swing in our favour. And then it happened. During the BBQ, Romy, our much loved terrier, got hold of the remains of a chicken wing I had left on my plate and she scurried off to demolish it with guilty pleasure.

We often said as we stared into our terrier's gorgeous face that if Romy could talk, the first thing she'd say is "for the love of God, would you give me something interesting to eat other than that boring dried food?". But with a liver condition, she is restricted and, like her owner, she has lost her waist, so even that dried food is restricted.

Spotting her opportunity, Romy guzzled the chicken wing I had stupidly left within her reach. Easter Sunday morning, we woke to find Romy groaning when we lifted her up. We found a vet open on Dundrum Road and X-rays confirmed the worst. She had a chicken bone stuck in her stomach. Nothing for it but afternoon surgery.

The last we saw of her was wrapped up doe-eyed in the vet's arms. I went off to waste away the next few worrying hours. The Bull Wall looked stunningly beautiful with shimmering sea. I walked it in tears. "I've killed my dog," I repeated over and over. Ok, so I didn't run over her, but I was guilty as charged. And as if to crank up my guilt even further, the canine Gods sent a procession of Yorkshire terriers into my path to make me feel even more lousy. Miriam, a dear friend, offered me tea and sympathy. I didn't deserve it.

Finally, after hours of angst, pacing up and down, scanning my phone for incoming calls, we got the news. Romy, the little trooper, had pulled through it all. The vet had to follow the bone as it had passed from her stomach into her intestine. Here it was. In a specimen bottle. It was huge. I couldn't have felt any more low. She was subsequently moved to the emergency veterinary hospital at UCD where other traumatised pet owners were gathered on a baking hot Easter Sunday. No one spoke. It was as if we were all traumatised by what had happened, and what might still lay ahead.

"Romy, you are having a little Easter overnight away," my daughter lovingly told her as we handed her over to yet another vet. They were all so kind. I felt hollow. It was the mother's guilt thing kicking back in, only this time it was the shame of a pet owner who hadn't performed her duty of care.

As for Romy, she's recovering at home, but I'd swear she's giving me side eye. I'm rattled by guilt and cannot look at her scar. BBQ's are officially banned in my house.

Irish Independent

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