Seven-year-old Josh hurried inside looking for his father. He let the back door slam shut behind him and rushed from room to room calling as he went. “Dad, there’s something wrong with Tess. She won’t eat. She won’t chase her ball. She won’t do anything. I think she’s sick.”
“Okay, let’s see what’s wrong with her.” Tony started the washing machine and followed Josh to the back verandah.
Tess lay in her bed. Her head slumped over the edge of the oversized basket his wife Jenna had bought when Tess was only eight-weeks-old. It still made him smile every time he saw Tess’s Basset-sized body barely filling one side of the mattress. Tess’s droopy ears flopped over her eyes. The only movement was the gentle rising and falling of her chest.
“What is it, Girl?” Tony gently lifted one ear and peeked under, replaced it and lifted it again and repeated the process. It was a game they played since Tess was a pup and it usually made her growl in mocking fun…but not today.
“Do you think she’s sick, Dad?”
“I don’t know, Josh. You go finish getting ready for school.”
“I wish Mom was here. She’d know what to do.”
Tony tousled his son’s hair. “I’m afraid it’s just us…at least until your mother gets back from your Aunt Susan’s. Aunt Susan still isn’t doing too well after her surgery.” Tony stood and stretched. “I’ll tell you what…I’ll phone the vet later and see what he suggests about our dear-ole’ Tess. If she’s no better later today, I’ll take Tess for a check-up. Okay?”
It was two o’clock and Tony began to worry. He had turned off his computer. Work would have to wait. His concern for Tess had intensified. “Hey, Tess. I think I’ll call Doc Frazer. You really don’t look well.”
Tony dialed the number and waited. Tess wasn’t much bigger than a rat when Doc Frazer first treated her. Tess liked Doc Frazer and he knew their lovable pet meant a lot to their family. Tony explained the symptoms to the vet.
Doc was concerned too. “Tony, it’s probably an upset stomach but bring her in and let me check her over.”
Tony placed Tess on the examination table. “Hey Doc, do you think she may have taken a bait or picked up a tick?”
Doc Frazer looked in Tess’s eye’s and throat and felt her abdomen before taking her temperature. Tess just laid there limp and quiet. He checked her completely over. “I’m not sure what’s wrong.” He stood back and pondered for a moment. “Her temperature’s fine. She didn’t whimper when I felt around her stomach and intestines. I can’t find any ticks…I honestly don’t know. I’ll take some blood tests and see if there’s an infection but she seems perfectly well. To me she looks…depressed.”
“Depressed?” Tony stroked Tess’s back and scratched behind her ears. “What would you be depressed about girl?”
Later, after that evening, Tony went to check on Josh. He’d been quiet since arriving home from school and had only picked at his dinner. Tony found his son huddled up and sound asleep alongside Tess in her basket. Tony chuckled. “Now I know why Jenna got the bigger basket.” He gently lifted Josh and took him to his own bed.
A short time later, he telephoned Jenna to see how things were with Susan, only to have to hang up before he had a chance to mention the problem with Tess. Tony had heard Josh crying.
Tony raced outside. “What up, Josh?”
“There’s really something wrong with Tess, Dad.”
Tony quickly checked Tess’s breathing. “She’s breathing okay but she seems weaker. You stay here while I call the vet and let him know we’re on our way.”
“Do you think she’s dying, Dad?”
“I don’t know, Son.”
“The blood tests are all fine,” Doc Frazer announced as Tony entered the examination room carrying Tess and Josh following close behind. “She’s definitely dehydrated today. I’ll give her some intravenous fluids overnight and keep an eye on her. Tell me, Josh, are you looking after Tess?”
“Yes, Sir. Especially while Mom’s away.”
Doc looked up at Tony. “Jenna’s away?”
“Yes, she’s at her sister’s. She’ll be back later today.
“Doc, is Tess going to die?” Josh began to cry.
“No, I don’t think so, Josh. I have a feeling she’ll be fine by supper.”
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