Sunday, 2 December 2012

Sunday 2 December 2012

My partner decided to heed Fizzy's advice and take Gisèle to the vets'.  Although this was due also, in part, to the observations of her parents.  They had cared for Gisèle over the weekend during which my partner was at the BBC in London, and remarked upon the little terrier's swollen belly and engorged teats.

And so thus it was, that this evening, my partner escorted the irrepressibly effervescent Gisèle to the vet.  I waited at home, not wishing to re-visit the scene where I... anyway - Giz was almost beside herself with maternal joy; my partner scarcely less-so, and I wandered home by myself.  Little Gizmo was singing happily to herself as I departed - I elected to overlook the fact that her tune of choice was Psy's "Gangnam Style"...

I pottered about the house, dwelling on happier times when I had been alive in this space and wondering how best to make myself useful when the time came for Gisèle's whelping.  At the sounds of the New Teal Megane returning and my partner's key in the front door lock I made my way downstairs.

But I was entirely unprepared for what I encountered.  Sweet Gisèle crept into the house, bent almost double like an elderly dog.  Her eyes were glazed and bore a hollow expression of mortification.  Glancing at my partner, I saw that she, too, looked somewhat strained.
"What's the matter?!" I yelped, forgetting my manners.  "Giz - is everything OK?!?"

"Yes, thank you, Jasper." she whispered in a strangled and unnatural voice.  The tiny creature then burst into tears and fled upstairs.  I heard her flinging herself onto the bed and wailing in anguish and despair.
"Wh - whatever has happened?!" I cried.  I saw that my partner was holding a small box of medicine, which she laid upon a kitchen worktop.  She then came into the living-room, slumped onto the sofa and held her head in her hands, whilst the entire house reverberated with the agonised sobs and screams from Gisèle.

"Oh no."  I wuffed quietly.  "Oh - no, no, please no.  Gisèle has miscarried her babies."

"Hasn't she?" I prompted, when no answer seemed forthcoming from my partner.  "Are they ALL dead?  All of them?"

"Oh Jasper," sighed my partner, but she stopped before continuing - casting her eyes upwards as Gisèle's wails became more distraught.  I made a snap decision.
"I'm going back." I announced.  "I know that you and Gisèle will miss me, but I am going back.  Kipper and I will look for the souls of those precious unborn pups and make sure that they are all right and surrounded by friends.  Tell Giz that I w-"
"Oh, Jazz," cut in my partner, sighing heavily again, "You always were a thoughtful dog; that's one of the reasons why so many people loved you during your life.  But you don't need to do anything this time."
"But the babies - those poor pups -"
"There are no puppies.  There never were any puppies.  Gisèle was not pregnant."
"But-"
"It was a phantom pregnancy."
"But- but- the swollen belly and breasts - the milk...  The nesting and grooming behaviour...?"
"All relatively common for a full-blown case of false pregnancy, apparently."  My partner frowned and sighed once more.
"Well..." I said slowly, "It would have been difficult, I think, to cope with puppies at the moment - financially quite apart from anything else.  I suppose it's for the best really..."  But I could tell my partner wasn't convinced.
"It's just that - well, it would have been quite exciting, and fun to have the little ones in the house.  But I'm SO sorry for Giz.  The vet weighed her, and really felt her belly hard.  And then, when he said 'No, she's completely empty.', the look on Giz's face was awful, I just felt so sick and sorry for her."
"What's the medicine for?"
"To dry up her milk so that she doesn't get Mastitis.  Actually, I'd better give her the first dose and make sure she's OK..." With one, final, sigh my partner got up and went to the get the medicine.  It was in a glass vial and the box also contained a pipette/dropper with the tube made from toughened glass and marked with the dosage level.  She drew the prescribed level and replaced the lid of the vial.  It did not escape my notice that there was a large disclaimer on the outer box stating "Do NOT administer to pregnant bitches as it may induce abortion".

And then I knew for certain.  NO respectable vet would prescribe this medicine to a lady who was, or even MIGHT BE, pregnant.

As Gisèle's screams and sobs of desperate anguish continued to reverberate throughout the house I stopped my partner before she ascended the stairs and indicated the sweet little girl's teddy-bear, lying unattended upon the sofa.  With a half-hearted smile my partner picked up the toy and we went up the stairs together.

We found the little Jack Russell curled up on the furthest edge of the bed, facing the wall.  It looked like she was trying to disappear into the corner as she whimpered and trembled.  My partner lifted her onto her lap and tried to soothe the grief-stricken and humiliated dog.
"Dearest Gisèle, please don't cry." I wuffed gently.  "You are young and pretty.  You've got so much time ahead of you to have puppies.  It will be all right."
"But what will people think of me?" wept poor Giz.  "What will people say when they find out?"
"People will understand, my love." I soothed. "It was not your fault; you haven't done anything wrong."

Whilst I comforted Gizmo my partner prepared to give the medicine.  She gently held Giz's mouth open and administered the dose in one rapid movement.  Gisèle spluttered and wrinkled up her snout - it clearly tasted utterly revolting - but she is a good girl and dutifully swallowed her medicine.
"Well done Giz." said my partner, giving the little dog another comforting cuddle.  "Do you want to come downstairs and have a little bit of dinner?"
"No thank you." whimpered Giz.
"I could look you out a bit of chicken, or something else that you really like?"
"No, I'm not hungry."
"OK.  Look - here's teddy.  He wants to know that you are OK."  My partner held out Gisèle's little stuffed toy.  At the sight of the small bear on which she had practised her grooming skills, Gizmo's expression changed.  She snatched it away from my partner and threw it across the room.
"Burn it!  Put it in the bin!  I never want to see it again!" shouted Giz, in a sudden explosion of violence.
"I'm not going to do that." replied my partner quietly.  She calmly got up and retrieved the teddy-bear and put it on the bed beside Gisèle.  Then she gently kissed Giz's head and suggested that she tried to get some sleep.

As my partner went downstairs, I decided that I would keep company with the unhappy little dog and sat down beside her.  Gizmo glared at me coldly.
"And you can s*d off as well." she snarled.

Her words hurt, but I knew that they were only borne out of her shock and distress.
"I'll go." I said, "But only as far as just outside the bedroom door.  I am not going to leave you while you are so unhappy."  I jumped down from the bed and curled up on the landing.  After a while I heard Gizmo's breathing settle down into a heavy, regular pattern and poked my head around the door.  Little Gisèle had fallen fast asleep, her head resting on her teddy-bear's lap with one paw on its ear.  I smiled sadly to myself and jumped softly back up onto the bed to lie beside her.

Poor Giz.  What a sad end to her happy plans.

Let us hope for better things next time...
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