Food is Love

Somewhere in my upbringing, I must have picked up on the belief that food equals love.

This weekend was one to have all of my kids at home, a make-up for two weekends ago when a winter storm kept Brad and Heather away. I took the day off on Friday so that I might prepare for this special weekend. There were things that needed doing, things like cleaning house and picking up my daughter from school. But top priority on my to-do list was grocery shopping. I simply felt that I couldn’t adequately welcome my kids back home without a well-stocked refrigerator and cupboards. I also wanted to have all of the ingredients to make the foods my kids were craving and had requested that I make for them sometime over the weekend.

My day began early on Friday. After a visit to the gym, I showered and dressed and then proceeded to make a grocery list and clip coupons. At the grocery store, I filled a cart to the brim with all the things on my list and then some. I got it all home and put away just in time to go pick up Kacey from school.

It was a beautiful, sunny day on Friday and the drive to and from Kacey’s school was pleasant. I enjoyed having one-on-one mom and daughter time in the car on the way home. And once we were back home, it wasn’t long before Connor arrived and the two of them hung out with me for a while. Kacey helped me out by making the barbecue sauce for the ribs Brad had asked me to make. When the sauce was done, I covered the ribs and wrapped them in foil. They went in the fridge to marinate overnight. Before long, Kacey’s friends, home on spring break, were beckoning her and Connor to come hang out. I agreed that Kacey could go, only because I still wanted to clean house and it would be several hours before Brad and Heather arrived anyway.

It was a quiet afternoon and early evening, but as I did my cleaning and prepared dinner, I thought how the quiet wouldn’t last. Soon Mark would come home from work. Soon kids and dogs would descend upon the tranquility and stir things up good. And they did. We had a late dinner on Friday once all had arrived. The kitchen was a mess as I had been busy preparing baked fish, sauteed zucchini, tossed salad and biscuits for a full table full of people instead of the usual two or three of us. Everyone gathered round the table to eat together and catch up with one another. All of those surfaces I’d spent the day cleaning and decluttering were soon cluttered again with car keys and phones, water bottles and various belongings. And I didn’t even mind. My kids were home. Everyone helped clean up afterwards and afterwards everyone found a place to lounge and wind down for the evening.

Saturday morning came early. Lucy was too excited, wanting to play with her pal Dacotah to bother sleeping in. I let the dogs out in the back yard and prepared to watch the chasing games begin. But they never did. Dacotah was ready to run and play, but she couldn’t get Lucy to engage. Dacotah would try to wrestle with Lucy, and Lucy would just roll over on her back. She would roll around on the ground a bit, but she wouldn’t run.

When the dogs were ready to come back in the house, I noticed that Lucy wasn’t racing up the deck steps, full speed ahead like she normally does. She took the stairs slowly, almost gingerly. She’d been doing this off and on for a few days but I’d thought maybe she’d just pulled a muscle racing around the yard like she always does. Now I was getting worried. If she wasn’t keeping pace with Dacotah, something must be wrong.

Neither Mark nor Brad thought anything serious was wrong and both suggested I wait until Monday to go to the vet, but I was worried. Mark must have been more worried than he let on too. While Heather and I went to a class at the gym, Mark called the vet. They had limited Saturday hours, but had an opening at 11:20 and could see Lucy.

I showered after the gym, then went with Mark and Lucy to the vet. We explained why we thought something was wrong. She’d gone from being fast and fearless to slow and careful. We explained the biggest red flag being the fact that she wouldn’t play with our son’s dog. Mark explained how Lucy has a habit of sleeping, curled up so tight in a ball that she must be stiff and sore when she awakens. He described her ability to lay flat on her belly with her front legs straight out in front of her, and her hind legs stretched out straight back. Maybe these were reasons for whatever was ailing her.

“I’ve never seen a dog do that before,” Mark said.

The doctor checked out Lucy’s feet and toes. He studied and felt her legs and knees. She never once whined or yelped. Finally he said, “I don’t believe there’s anything wrong in her feet or legs. Her knees are fine.” He hesitated then before saying, “I think it’s her hip.”

I felt a mild panic when he said that. I heard the words Hip Displasia in my head. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but had heard enough about it to know it wasn’t good. I assured myself, though that I was overreacting and doing so too soon. And then the vet said those words. He said, “Not all dogs who can stretch out as you’ve described have Hip Displasia, but most dogs who have Hip Displasia are able to stretch out that way.

“I’m going to take Lucy for an x-ray,” the vet said.

While my dog willing followed him out of the room, I googled Hip Displasia on my iPhone and learned that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Lucy had it and that there were several forms of treatment including surgery. Still, I was keeping my fingers crossed that it wasn’t that.

Unfortunately, the finger crossing didn’t do much good. The vet and Lucy came back and it was confirmed that she has Hip Displasia. This condition, according to Wikipedia, is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints.

I could feel tears beginning to sting my eyes. I know there are some who might say she’s just a dog. But she’s not just a dog to me. She’s the one who is always there for me. When I come home, she greets me as if I’m the greatest person in the world. She snuggles me when I need snuggling and she keeps me from feeling alone and lonely during those times when none of my people are around. She makes me laugh and she loves me. I love her. It makes me sad to think of her in such pain. And she was in obvious pain.

So, we were given options for treatment. Some of them are expensive. We have some thinking to do, but I’m thinking it won’t be a tough decision. We’ll figure out a way to make our puppy-girl feel better. The vet gave her some anti-inflammatory medication and said she should be feeling better in a day. She’ll need to take the meds every day, at least until we decide what course of treatment to go with.

When we came home we told the kids what was wrong. Of course they wanted to know what Lucy’s options were. As we talked about it, Mark made a comment that made me think he’d prefer to take the least expensive route, which means Lucy will eventually suffer more than she is now. With that thought in mind, tears threatened to come again. I escaped to the lower level of the house before anyone could notice. But I didn’t go unnoticed. Brad came downstairs behind me and wrapped me in a hug, saying, “Don’t cry, Mom. She’ll be okay. It’s not like you’re losing her.”

“I know,” I said. “But I’m worried that Dad doesn’t want to spend the money to help her. I can tell she’s in pain and I feel so bad. Everywhere she goes in this house, even to get to the yard, she has to travel up and down steps.”

“You guys will do what she needs,” Brad said. “I know you will.”

I didn’t know, but I felt a little better.

Brad said the ribs I’d made for him for lunch were delicious. I didn’t notice. I felt like the vet’s news had put a damper on the day.

This morning, Mark said to me, “So we need to figure out the best way to pay for Lucy’s surgery, if that’s what we decide to do.”

I felt way better then!

Brad and Heather were the earliest risers this morning. While they pampered the dogs in the living room, I prepared the biggest breakfast possible. I made bacon, scrambled eggs and hash browns. There was cinnamon toast too. We sat at the table enjoying the kind of breakfast I rarely allow myself to enjoy. Jake and Kacey slept through it all. I knew they’d rather sleep than eat.

Besides, by the time Kacey finally greeted the day, I was already on my way to making the Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder she had requested. It was done cooking just in time for her to have some for lunch.

Too soon, it was time for everyone to go back to school again. That’s always the hardest part of a visit. But Dacotah going home meant Lucy would settle down for some much-needed rest. And Kacey returned to school, only for a week. Spring break is next week, so she’ll be home again soon.

I’d better make sure I get that refrigerator stocked up again!

21 thoughts on “Food is Love

  1. I hope Lucy will be okay. When I was a kid, we had dachshunds that had dysplasia. I’m sure you all will make the best decision of Lucy. I’ve seen our Lab stretch out like that. Now, I need to keep a watch on her.


  2. Awww, Terri, I’m sorry to hear about Lucy, but like MJ said, you all will take care of it. She will be fine. Hang in there, my friend.

    Plus, I couldn’t agree more that food means love, and it sounds like there was a lot of loving going around your house this weekend.



  3. A big, comforting hug for you and for Lucy. Plus a bucket full of strength and hope. That sweet darling of yours shouldn’t be in pain, she should be happy. And you make her happy every day, dear. Somehow you will find a way!
    Take care,


  4. I’m glad you had your family at home to help counteract Lucy’s sad news. My hubby would also want to take the cheaper route, but he would want me to be happy about the decision too. I’m guessing Mark feels the same way. Salim would say, “You be ah-right”. And you will. You all have enough love in your family to help Lucy get through this!


  5. Well, I am super happy you had a great weekend with the family but I am sooo sorry to hear about Lucy and her Hip Displasia. That’s terrible. I hope whatever treatment you chose works well and fast for her.


  6. Well that was certainly an intense weekend. One of my kids went through a really tough time with there dog not that log ago, so I have some frame of reference on how hard these decisions are. It is good that Mark is on the same page with you.

    BTW – food definitely is love! It’s universal with cultures around the world.


  7. I’ve noticed Lucy laying flat out like that in some of your photos, and I’d never seen a dog do that before either. Still, I wouldn’t have guessed that anything was wrong, I just thought it was her way. I think hip displasia is common in some breeds, and therefore, probably something that vets are pretty good at dealing with. Still, I know it’s scary/sad news for you and the family! Please keep us posted on how her treatment progresses!

    And I’m glad you got your weekend-with-the-family. Better late than never!


  8. So crazy hectic weekends still happen from time to time even after the kiddos get a bit older huh? That’s good. I wouldn’t want it any other way! Sounds like you’re making memories for the kids that will last a lifetime!


  9. Poor Lucy!! Of course she’s not “just a dog”. Our pets are our babies and I firmly believe anybody who doesn’t feel that way shouldn’t have a pet… Probably not kids either. ;-)

    So sorry she’s hurting. I know paying cash out if pocket without insurance for such an expensive option is tough, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right? I’m glad Mark came around.

    I hope she has a speedy recovery and gets back to her old self!


  10. That’s too bad about Lucy. I hope she feels better soon. I wonder if the adoption agency would be willing to help you out under the circumstances? Not that I know anything about that stuff, but sorry to say that sometimes dogs are given up because there is something wrong, and the previous owner doesn’t have the funds to help the dog. Just a thought.


  11. Poor Lucy. I hope the rest and the anti-inflammatories will help her feel better. It is hard to say but a lot of bigger dogs are prone to that issue. Shadow had hip/nerve issues when he was older and he would typically lie like Lucy does (we called it “spraddle”). Like others said before, Lucy’s not just a dog. She’s part of the family. There are lots of therapies and options out there and I know that you guys will explore them all.


  12. Everything in this post rings true in one way or another to me! The worries about a dog that has some health concerns almost always does drop back to the old sore point in our lives -fiances and economics! But it did make me feel good to read Mark’s comments to you later about discussing the best way to treat -and fund -Lucy’s problems! And as to the food -that seems to always be on my mind any time my son or my older daughter and grandson show up here as I begin to give each of them a run-down of what’s available in the refrigerator or on the counter, in the cupboards, etc. And mot every day, one of the first things I say to Mandy -or in some instances to Maya and Kurt -involves asking what they think I should fix for supper that day! (THis a.m., I asked the kids what they thought and Kurt told me “Hot dog buns, with hot dogs in them and mac ‘n’ cheese!” (I forgot to tell them to think of something other than mac ‘n’ cheese!)


  13. Well, first of all, I’m Italian so food IS love, but it’s also LIFE in my family. ;-)

    Now, please let me address your sweet, sweet Lucy. My heart broke reading about what happened. You will never hear “she is just a dog” from me. The dog I lost in ’09 was my very heart and soul. I have not children, so he was it for me. Seeing them in pain, causes us to feel the pain with them. It’s agony.

    Having said that, I know you and your husband will do the right thing for her. She is so, so very lucky to have you as her mommy. Hugs to you.


  14. Awww, poor Lucy. I was thinking some anti-inflammatories would work for a bit. She’s so young that she should recover from surgery well and be happy for a long time!


  15. I’d never seen a dog lie flat the way Lucy does, but I didn’t know it could be related to hip displasia. I suppose the vet also told you it’s pretty common in some breeds, but not in others. I know that doesn’t ease your fears that she’ll be in pain and her treatment will be costly, but we do what we have to, to protect our loved ones — and Lucy, for sure, is loved! I’m glad you had such a lovely time with your whole family, and I pray Lucy feels better soon.


  16. Ugh… it always sucks when a friend is hurting – be it human or canine. I don’t know that much about the condition – or dog conditions in general – but I know you guys will do what is best for her.

    Glad you got to hang out with the kiddos, and everything fell into place this time.


  17. Vets and their treatments more expensive than my shrink and cardiologist. I will always have my long ago gone yellow lab in my heart but never again or since will have another pet. Another issue God and I will have a “spirited” discussion about when my time comes.


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