I hadn’t planned to post again so quickly, but Gretchen and I just had a pretty terrifying experience this evening. We were locking up and getting ready to turn in when our dog, Ben, had a seizure.

He was just walking down the hallway when his legs sort of gave out underneath him. I thought at first that he was just flipping over on his back to delay bedtime, as he often does, but it quickly became apparent that something was seriously wrong. His paws drew up against him and he started shaking all over. I got down on the floor with him and it was obvious that every muscle in his body was tensed. His jaw was flexed and his eyes were wide open, he looked terrified. I had never seen anything like this before and I thought he was dying.

Gretchen had seen this happen to a person though and recognized it as a seizure. She called the emergency vet number while I sat with him and tried to comfort him on the floor. He clearly couldn’t move, but he was looking right at me. After a minute or two the seizure passed and he was a little groggy but otherwise back to normal. The vet said it wasn’t an emergency and we should make an appointment for sometime tomorrow. We sat on the floor with him for a few minutes to make sure he was ok, then let he and Louise get up on the couch (a rare treat). He was clearly exhausted and went to sleep right away. As I write this he is laying next to me snoring.

Had someone described this same situation to me an hour earlier, I might have said “well, he’s just a dog”. I’ve never been an advocate of expensive medical treatments for pets, and we would never be able to afford anything like that anyway. But in that moment I would have spent everything I had to stop that seizure. It was the strangest thing. I know that he’s just a dog and that we could buy ten more beagles for what it would cost to get him a neurological exam, but when it was happening to MY dog that suddenly didn’t matter.

It’s a very unequal comparison, but Ben’s episode tonight made me think of the parents that spend their entire lives fighting to raise money for autism research or to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. He’s just a dog, but we love him and we want to imagine that he is invincible, the healthiest beagle ever to have lived. When we were confronted with his mortality tonight it made me want to do anything, make any sacrifice to protect him. After all, we’re all he’s got. In the next week or so we are going to be parents, and we want our son to be healthy and strong. He might not be though. He might have some serious physical or mental hurdles to get over, or he may have some obstacles that are just impossible to overcome in this life. He may never be able to live on his own or fend for himself, and in that case his mother and I will have to fight for him. We’ll be all he’s got.

By the way, none of these pictures are from tonight. I just threw them in because he’s such a good looking dog.