A dog’s life is built on faith

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Kym Seabolt's dog, Nova Grace
Kym Seabolt's dog, Nova Grace, poses for a picture. (Kym Seabolt photo)

There is one rule in my book club (also known as cake club due to our eating cake more often than we read books): there will be absolutely no reading of books where the dog dies. 

So, in the spirit of book club, let me state for the record that the dog doesn’t die. It was close though. 

Strange behavior

Our younger dog, Nova Grace, is approximately 5 years old and is a breed best described as a terrier and rocket fuel mix. High energy is her default setting. 

Two weeks ago she started acting differently. She lost her appetite and seemed to be in a funk. I had just gone away overnight from her for the first time ever. I attributed her malaise to my brief absence and her assumption I was lost forever. Nova, it should be noted, does not handle change well. 

I don’t know much about her first year. She’s adopted. She was rescued from the island of St. Thomas between hurricanes in 2017. She survived one, barely escaped the other, and arrived stateside late one night in the belly of an airplane stacked with cages. 

She was in two foster homes before the good Lord brought us together. Thus, it is understandable that my selfish 24-hour absence would be enough to send her into a tailspin. 

Time for the vet

When she continued to not eat, drink or do much of anything else, we went straight to the Emergency Veterinarian. GirlWonder and I sat nervously perched on vinyl chairs while the veterinary staff whisked her in and out for blood tests, x-rays and a battery of other tests that seemingly told us nothing. 

We took her home with instructions to return the next day if she did not improve. We had to return the next day and the day after that. She became sicker each day. 

On a Sunday afternoon, we ran back to the veterinarian with a lethargic girl clutched in arms. The prognosis, we were told, was not good. Blood was drawn, fluids were pushed and the consensus was she would be unlikely to last the week. 

Cancer? Kidney Disease? A disease of the blood cells? They could not say. I sobbed, terrified. She is not even five years old. I didn’t expect to lose her so early. I am not being the least bit dramatic when I say I sobbed. I could not stop crying. 

High alert

Team Seabolt was alerted. GirlWonder came over after work. BoyWonder and his beautiful girlfriend drove five hours round trip just to see Nova. She and BoyWonder have always had a special bond. He held her in his lap, lethargic and limp, as we contemplated losing her. 

She is such a young dog. She had survived so much to get to the good life she had now. Why would it be cut so short? I got down on my knees in the childhood method of prayer. Was it unseemly to pray for a dog? I don’t believe so. All are God’s creatures both great and small after all. 

Then, I crowdsourced her illness. I went on Facebook, described her mystery symptoms and asked if anyone of my thousand-plus friends or friends of friends had any experience with something similar? I also asked for prayers — as many as we could get. 

Faith

Within an hour my phone rang with a dear friend who would become our angel. She is a Veterinary Tech with decades of experience. I would say she went to work but really, she went to battle for our girl. She left no stone unturned in getting us into her clinic. 

An email arrived in my inbox with treatment ideas from a new veterinarian — a veterinarian who was on vacation and on a Sunday night no less. At the same time, we had hundreds of prayers. We had people post, text, message and simply see us as we ran errands. “How’s your dog?” “Sending prayers!” Each of these moments of compassion and concern was received with awe and gratitude. 

Our girl was whisked away to the animal hospital where she would spend four days. Four days where we missed her terribly but knew she was in the best hands, those of God and some incredibly passionate and well-trained individuals. Each day we willed her to be well. She was pampered and hand-fed. 

Finally, she was sent home with a diagnosis we — and she — could live with. It is manageable with medication and it’s just her luck to have a family of dedicated servants to see to it. 

This is a column about a dog, yes. It is also so much more. It is an essay about the wisdom of a second opinion, the gratitude for a second chance and the power of community armed with the power of prayer. 

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Did I miss something?? What was wrong with the dog??? If you’re going to write, you need to learn a few ( maybe more than a few) things about the craft. You don’t leave your readers hanging like you did in this article. It was all “build up, build up, build up” …and then…nothing. I mean, I’m glad your dog is ok, but you can’t focus so much on life-threatening symptoms and then not follow through with the exact diagnosis for the benefit of readers who are expecting to be told! Adding just one sentence of explanation would have worked and would not have detracted from the point you were trying to make overall. Sorry if this sounds rude–it’s not meant to be!

  2. Hi Elaine,

    At the time of publication we did not have a definitive diagnosis. The vet was focused on simply keeping her alive.

    We can now confirm that Nova has Addison’s Disease. Called “the great imitator,” we are told that it is particularly difficult to diagnose as it mimics numerous other diseases.

    Sorry to leave you hanging. Trust me, we hated not knowing more than anyone.

    Best wishes!

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