Ch.206 Levi Hasn’t Eaten in Three Days

Ch.206 Levi Hasn’t Eaten in Three Days

June 2023

          Four mornings ago, my 13-year-old collie Levi began coughing lightly and panting frequently. He began walking more slowly than usual and having some trouble jumping into the car.

          Three mornings ago, Levi declined to eat his morning meatball (with a pain pill “hidden” inside). But he remained reasonably active and came with me when we visited my quarter-horse Lakota at his stable.

Two mornings ago, Levi collapsed. His eyes seemed dim; he laid on the floor without movement; he barely responded to my petting him; he only drank water when I brought the bowl to him. I was grateful, however, that he did drink at all. It was my only sign he wasn’t dying.

          Yesterday I brought Levi into his veterinarian for an emergency visit. Dr. Jeffries informed me that Levi tested positive for three separate types of tic-borne disease.  I wasn’t completely surprised, even though I have been giving him an anti-Lyme’s disease pill every month, given that we live in a state highly contaminated with tic-bearing insects. Dr. Jeffries shoveled an antibiotic pill down Levi’s throat and told me to do the same thing for the next thirty days. She predicted Levi would begin feeling better in a few days.

          This morning Levi still declined to eat. I did manage to get him to swallow his antibiotic on my third try (He spat out the pill on my initial effort and sailed it like a discus across the room the second). I’m trying to convince myself Levi’s looking better because he’s lifting his head more and walking a little. I keep reminding myself that Dr.Jeffries said he'd need a few days before he started recovering.

And I’m telling Levi something I never said to Pat: “I NEED you to stay alive.” I didn’t say that to Pat because it wouldn’t have been fair. She was going to die no matter how much I needed her. The last thing I wanted to do was to make her feel guilty about leaving me. But Levi is different. He doesn’t understand my words. He may understand my tears, though, but I trust he takes those into his being without any sense of obligation.

Levi has been my constant companion since Pat died. Before that he was Pat’s companion, sharing her bed at home and later visiting Pat with me every night at Azura. But after she passed away, we’ve become much closer, taking walks together, sharing meals, visiting Lakota, and supervising the cat (I can ask Levi to go find Blackie and he usually comes home with him in just a few minutes.) Levi hasn’t made me feel whole, because that isn’t possible, but he has insulated me from my loneliness, warming me against its cold. If Levi dies soon, I will face a new, deeper emptiness than I have yet to endure. That’s why I need him – I am afraid to face that vacuum of despair.

                July follow up: Levi is doing much better now that his antibiotics have kicked in. He’s taking his medications more easily, too, since I discovered that adding a little barbecue sauce on his meatball seems to hide the medicine smell.