Oliver has been hacking like an elderly man with stage-four cancer. HACK-HACK-BLEEEH followed by some kind of white foam or whatever was in his stomach. It started around two a.m. the day before yesterday. We thought that it was one of his normal stomach issues since he gets sick at least twice per month somehow, no matter how careful we try to be. When he was still hacking yesterday afternoon I told Francesco that we had to go to the vet and the psychologist, “He’s obviously sick with some kind of respiratory dog plague and I need some kind of calming pill because I’m having a nervous breakdown following him around cleaning up his gross every thirty seconds.” Every thirty-a-seconds-a? Dets exaggerating beb, F said. Oh? Tell me that later when you’re following him around with a handful of napkins, in the snow, walking up hill both ways. We took Oliver to the vet that evening. I’m always surprised by how smart dogs are. I mean, the second Oliver saw where we were going he was like, “Oh no, seriously!? What the fuck did I ever do to you!?” And he tried to run away and I’m pretty sure he flipped me off.
We entered into a waiting room of sad faces. One dog howled and pawed at her family to leave, one sat between the legs of his guy with his head held high and proud despite his shaking legs, and Oliver did a combination of intense whining followed by barfing all over the floor. And on me. After an hour long wait, since they don’t do appointments here because it would be too easy, we found out that he had some sort of canine bronchitis. His throat was bright red and he had a mild fever. “It’s an epidemic,” she said, “we see dozens of this every day right now.” Awesome. And here we are letting him whore his tongue around every public water bowl in Florence. Then she pulled out a huge needle and we had to hold him down while she shot him up with antibiotics and I was thinking to myself, “This vet is nice so don’t punch her to death for hurting him. It’s necessary. It-is-necessary.” My husband, the stoic and no- bullshit one had a severe look of empathy on his face, a rare thing, when Oliver jumped into his arms and tried to cling to him.
The bad part was over. We just had to weigh him and go. “But is he under-weight?” F asked. The vet laughed, “No, actually, he’s perfect. Most of the poodles we see are hugely fat, like their owners. I’m sure everyone tells you that he is sooo skinny and he has to eat. But no, he’s fine.” And we all laughed because that is a thing in Italy. EVERYONE NEEDS TO EAT. Everyone and everything is starving to death according to pretty much anyone. Strangers yell, “You’re too skinny!” to me and Oliver in the street. People try to feed him when we take him into stores. It was nice to hear from a professional that he is normal, not that it will convince anyone else, but at least I’ll stop feeling like I’m depriving him. When we arrived home after 107 euros, antibiotics, and aspirin Oliver was pretty tired. Yet, he couldn’t sleep because of the Hack-Hack-BLEEEEH-ing. F was all, “Wow, you-a-weren’t kidding. He is-a-REALLY barfing a lote.” I kill you with my eyes. We went to sleep around midnight as usual but Oliver couldn’t sleep. He coughed, and coughed, and coughed all night and like any animal when it’s sick he wanted to cuddle and cough into my face. Thanks Oliver. You continue to surprise me with your willingness to share. And somehow Italy wouldn’t be nearly as weird or like home without you.