Sunday, April 24, 2005

Jimmy crack cornea and I don't care

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Given the seemingly limitless boundaries of humankind's technological capability, why hasn’t anybody invented dog glasses yet?

I don't mean drink-ware. That would be silly. No, I mean eyeglasses for dogs.

Confound it all, people -- when are we going to wake up, smell the coffee, and realize that dogs need glasses! I can't say it any more simply! This is basic knowledge! We have brainiacs spending billions of dollars combing Mars for microbes when they should be inventing glasses for dogs, damn it all! How many dogs -- how many, I say! -- must suffer before we as a people stand up for common sense and cry, "Enough!"

OK.

I just went onto the Internet and found dog glasses. They were ... um, right on the first screen there. So, good then. Ahem. Let's pretend those first few paragraphs never happened, shall we?

They're little goggles that are strapped onto your dog's head. They're called Doggles. Funny -- that's what I would have called them, too.

I may get a pair for my pooch. I don't care if it makes her a four-eyes -- I'm obsessed with canine eye safety lately, and my dog has eye issues. She asked not to be revealed by name publicly. I'll call her "Jerry Lewis."

It started when my wife noticed something on Jerry Lewis' face. We were about to eat lunch with my parents at the time.

We're sitting at the dinner table and Jerry Lewis comes sniffing around for scraps. My wife suddenly pats Jerry's head and says, "What's that?"

I look. Jerry Lewis has what looks like a white speck on her left eye. Then she turns her head, and I see that it's sort of sticking out of her eyeball -- like a pimple.

"Ug," I say, and a wave of nausea crashes over me. I should probably mention that I'm terribly phobic about anything to do with eyes.

My wife tries looking at it and turns pale. She's even more phobic about eyes than I am. "We have to get her to the vet."

"I'm sure it's nothing serious," Mom suggests.

"You're probably right," I say.

Soon afterward, my wife and I and Jerry Lewis are careening toward Warren Animal Hospital at 90 mph. Jerry Lewis is taking a nap in the back seat while I chew off my fingernails and spit them into Swansea.

We get her into an exam room. My wife and I are petting Jerry Lewis and looking at the ceiling. I catch another glimpse of her eye -- and there it is, on her left eyeball, a bulging white blotch like a miniature Mount Fuji. It moves grotesquely whenever she glances around. Jerry doesn't seem to care.

"Ug," I say.

"I can't look at it," my wife says.

The vet comes in. He notices it right away.

"Got a little flaw there," he says. Then he pulls out a test strip kind of thing from his pocket, holds Jerry Lewis by the head, and sticks it right to her eyeball like tape.

"GAAAAH!" my wife and I say.

"Hmf," the vet says. "See that dye?"

We look through our fingers. Jerry Lewis' left eye is now bright neon green, and it's weeping this fluid like lime-flavored Kool-Aid, dripping down the side of her snout.

"GAAAAH!"

"She's got a scratch on her cornea. Nothing too deep. She probably walked into a bush or a table or something. It should heal pretty soon."

I'm relieved -- but then I start thinking: Bushes? Tables? How many tables do we have at her eyeball level? Too many. They'll have to go. They'll all have to go. Don't even get me started on bushes.

"We need one of those Toro brush and twig chippers," I say to my wife. She's not sure what I mean by this.

We both look down to see the vet squirting a tube of goop onto Jerry Lewis' eyeball.

"GAAAAH!"

"You'll need to see how this is done," the vet says. "She needs two ointments twice a day."

My wife covers her eyes with one hand and smacks my arm with the other. "Watch how he does it," she says.

Before I can protest, I have been assigned to Eyeball Ointment Duty.

"See?" the vet says. "You roll her eyelid down, expose the underside of the eyeball, then you apply it here, in this pocket." He demonstrates.

"Pocket," I say. "Ug."

A week has gone by, and I've managed to give Jerry Lewis her ointments. She doesn't seem to notice. I develop a system where I sit her down and give her cookies and say, "Aw, what a good girl. You're the bestest puppy-wuppy in the whole wide -- GAAAAH! It's LOOKING at me! Gimme the goop -- QUICK!"

We go back for a follow-up visit. A different vet checks on us.

"You know that bulge on her eye?" my wife says. "It doesn't look like it's much smaller."

"It's scarring over," he says. "She's got a lot of what is known medically as something-something-vascularization."

Except he uses the real word.

I taste the word in my mouth, and my lip quivers. Something-something-vascularization. Yes. Something-something-vascularization has another unwitting victim in its cruel clutches. I promise myself never to forget that diagnosis, so I'll know exactly what to tell people when they ask how the poor kid died.

"That's a good thing," the vet adds.

Oh. Scarring on your eye is good, as it turns out.

"Hey, can she see OK with that disgusting thing on her eyeball?" I ask.

"She does have another eye," he says. "It's fine."

At home, we take Jerry Lewis for a stroll in the park, where she promptly walks into a tree. Then she gives us a dopey, happy look, and runs off into a pricker-bush.

When we pry her out, we hug her and tell her to be more careful. Jerry looks up at me with her big, brown, ghastly, repulsive eye, and smiles.

"If only there were doggie glasses," my wife says.

"I know. So we don't have to see that revolting cornea scratch anymore," I say. "My God, it's hideous."

"I was going to say, to protect her poor eyes."

I reach down to pet Jerry's head without looking. "Also that."

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