"She has glaucoma," I reply when people ask about her poor eye.
"I don't think so," is my answer when they ask if it bothers her. She doesn't paw at it or play any less or demand affection anything other than incessantly around new people. "She sometimes bumps into things and it pisses her right off when the cat sneaks up on her blind side but she's otherwise adapted very well."
"Her eye looks bad," I offered mid-conversation with John the other night. "Red and cloudy," I described and he nodded. "We need to go to the doctor tomorrow," I told my pet and she wagged her tail briefly before returning to her determined quest to receive kisses from the man in our living room. He avoided her tongue even as he petted her head, offering that it wasn't her - it was him. And maybe eventually they'd know each other well enough to kiss but that time hadn't yet come.
I smiled as I rose to cross the room, calling Chienne over to put in drops that helped very little.
"She does that very well," John complimented and I nodded before kissing her on the head and accepting the lick to my chin.
"She's a good girl," I noted despite her bouncing off of him many, many times while he was standing and her immediate return to sit on his lap and lick his face. "Sometimes," I amended and reclaimed my own seat next to him.
Emitting a long-suffering sigh when I woke her the next morning, I smiled as I lifted her head from sheets scented of Cheer detergent and pried her eye open to assess color and clarity.
"It looks better," I told her and she flopped her head down and snuggled back into doggy dreams while I went downstairs to make coffee and fret until the eye office opened. They could see us at 11 so we took a walk and put in drops and arrived early to sniff and whine at the waiting room. (She did - I was perfectly well behaved personally.)
She hopped up on the bench beside me while they put in the numbing drops and turned off the lights to examine her eye. She sat comfortably, offering kisses to the assistant and tolerating the doctor's gentle prodding with typical grace during medical procedures.
"14," said doctor announced after touching the probe to her eye several times. "So she's stable in terms of pressure - whatever it might have been seems to have resolved."
"Yay!" I offered, blinking back tears. "Your eye's OK," I told Chienne gleefully and she wagged her tail before hopping down to the floor.
"Bring her back in if she has another episode," the doctor advised. "Even late at night or over the weekend - one of us can meet you in here and take a pressure so we can figure this out." (And this is where I offer my great affection and respect for Eye Care for Animals. Wonderful, wonderful people.)
So back we went this morning with a red eye, still at 14mmHg.
"I don't know what to do," I told Mom when I called, scheduled as I was to fly to meet them in Florida first thing Monday morning.
"We're fine with whatever you decide," she told me gently.
"I want to come," I told her, whining. "I have my polka dot swimsuit and sunscreen and do love the ocean. And the girls. And you and Dad."
"I know," she replied. And left me stuck in this conflicted state. Without a dogsitter I trust completely - I love that my little neighbor can check on her but she won't be able to judge eye health. And I hate to impose on her family to drive to the emergency vet should her vision start to go.
"Don't get a dog," a friend told me when I was searching for Chienne after my second year of grad school. "They're so much work and you'll be unable to travel and you'll always be worried about this creature."
"I see it," I argued, "as a choice between every day and special occasions. I can have someone to greet me when I get home - to take walks and cuddle with while watching television - and this daily dose of happiness. And I accept that the trade-off is that it's going to be inconvenient to take trips. Which I almost never do."
But now I've convinced myself that I'm choosing between children and canine. And that I suck if I miss time on the beach and in the pool with the Ones. But I'll be heartbroken if something happens to my girl and I knowingly decided to leave her alone - waving goodbye and wishing her luck until I return.
I'm a bad person either way. And I hate it when that happens.