She’s never been very healthy, but in early May she lost control of her limbs and started having seizures. Most were ten to twenty seconds in length, minorly terrifying, but over quickly enough. Occasionally they lasted longer. The worst it got was about twenty minutes: her body a cacophony of spasm, eyes rolled back in her head, yellow froth pouring out of her mouth. We took her to see Doc half a dozen times, but epilepsy often accompanies mange and there wasn’t much she could do. Instead, Joy started carrying Gidget around kangaroo-style, in a pouch strapped across her chest. Some of this was because dogs find the sound of a heartbeat soothing; most of it was that Joy didn’t want Gidget to die alone.
Either way, the pouch worked wonders. By the first week of June, Gidget could stumble about. By the second week, she was running – at least wobbling fast. Unfortunately, despite the physical recovery, Gidget came to us fairly fried, and those long seizures torched her brain even more. With her wobbling about for the first time, we quickly discovered she had almost no ability to recognize social cues, and a complete block when it came to pack order. That order is also pretty confusing right now, and with this much tension in the air and her being barely two pounds, all its going to take to get her in trouble is not much at all.
There’s another thunderclap. Leo jerks, Farrah jumps, and something scurries across the corner of my vision. From my position pinned to the couch it’s hard to say for sure – maybe it’s Gidget sprinting toward Otis, but no dog could be that dumb. I crank my neck for a second look. Turns out Gidget is exactly that dumb. Not only did she sprint toward Otis, now she’s stepping onto his thigh. This doesn’t make any sense, and then it does. Gidget doesn’t like thunder either. She usually spends storms inside her pouch, safe against Joy’s breast. When Joy’s not available – and she’s currently in town running some errands – then Gidget goes for the middle of my chest. Since Farrah currently occupies that spot, her addled mind somehow decided Otis was where to go for comfort.
“Gidget,” I hiss, trying to keep my voice quiet. She ignores me, climbing from thigh to hip. I call her again, a little louder, but that was the wrong decision. Otis’s eyes slam open. Anger in all mammals tends to contract the pupils, and his are now dark points. I hear a low growl and see fur rise. Any other dog would be long gone, but Gidget isn’t any other dog. Either she doesn’t notice the signals or they don’t compute. She puts one paw in front of the other, climbs to the middle of Otis’s back, and then – as if it were the most normal thing in the world – spins a tight circle and lies down for a nap.
I think it’s the shock that keeps Gidget alive. Otis goes from growling to gobsmacked in no time flat. Gobsmacked is something to see, like a cartoon – Goofy the moment after being broadsided by a two-by-four: brow ridiculously raised, ears at wild angles, eyes popping out of head. Then those brows pull together, as if an idea is forming in his head and just a moment while he thinks it through. I’ve never seen this sort of deductive logic in a dog before, but Otis connects the dots: Gidget has to be crazy to be on his back, and if she’s crazy, then the normal rules don’t apply. Instead of attacking, Otis shakes his head once, snorts loudly, and goes back to sleep.