I awaken. The sun has not yet pushed the darkness to the forest floor. There is a noise. I quickly realize is Minnie, whose trachea is collapsing and she is terrified trying to find her airway. I do the only thing that I can do for her, which is to calm her. I pet her from her head down her back to her tail, slowly, over and over. I calmly reassure her. “You are OK Minnie. Sweet little Min. Pretty little Mosie. Baby Button Face. Good little Minner. It is OK good girl.” I lay next to her, diagonally across the bed in the loft of Tiny House Ontario with my head in the window. When it is just the dogs and I here, I very often sleep like this, so I can watch the forest shadows dance through the night. Minnie finally starts to breath normally and when she does she turns to look right at my eyes. She does this for a long while, big saucer eyes with her giant ears laying back flat on her head still, she looks relieved. I am sure she is thanking me for my help.
It is a terrifying illness to which we lost a beautiful little boy, Klein, last February. Minnie has a very mild case when compared to his. Thankfully. We do not medicate her at all or keep phenobarbital on hand for her. Hers is simply not severe enough to warrant this drastic medical interference. Klein was on the stuff nearly the whole of his short life. He sounded like a train when he walked and if we brought him into public people stopped to stare. He really loved people. He was sick and he grew fat though we watched his diet closely, he was Stealth. He would always make it into the dining room with the children when they were small and was what our vet calls “an easy keeper” which means that he did not need much food to live. In human beings we call this a slow metabolism. The only thing that made Klein angry was wasabi peas. He was a great wasabi warrior.
I look at my watch. It is 5:12 am. Minnie and I look out the window together. The sky is brighter now but the forest is still all shadows. The black has turned to grey with hues of green now. It will incrementally change according to the neighboring rooster and the thousands of songbirds who help the sun chase the shadows down into the ground so that the sun may nourish the forest with its light.
Minnie cuddles herself down into the bed for a nap and I join her. The wind and the birds are our lullaby.