The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Mesa Verde National Park is a park in the southwest area of Colorado. My wife and I live in Colorado now and with a three day weekend greeting us, we thought it’d be a great idea to visit there.

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How awesome does this place look?!

I booked a campsite for Saturday night, a tour of some of the historic ruins at the park on Sunday, and a hotel in Durango for Sunday night. What a weekend we’d have!

We would also get a good hike or two in, lounging by the campsite, see great stars, and enjoy a scenic drive back along the Million Dollar Highway. What a trip!

But wait. Let’s rewind.

Sunday night before Memorial Day weekend our little dog, Jody, was not doing so well. Jody was due for an appointment on that Friday, so the ol’ ball and chain called the vet and moved the appointment up to Monday. I took Jody (doing her best impression of a leaf in the wind) to the vet and they said “ok it might be this, let’s give her this, and we’ll see what the blood work says.”

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Jody, aka Pupperdoodle, Pupperoni, Pupperdoo, Jodykins, the dog (that last one I came up with).

Tuesday the ball and chain takes Jody BACK to the vet because the blood work says something was wonky with her gall bladder. Gall bladder! Who knew!? They say here’s the fix, and we are content although a little lighter in the pocket book.

Friday the lady takes the dog to our pet sitter, who we have used before and she’s awesome. We found her via Rover, and it’s great because it’s cheaper than a kennel AND Jody stays with our pet sitter at the pet sitter’s house. Our pet sitter is sweet, she and her boyfriend take Jody for walks – frankly, Jody is living the life with them. The ball and chain hands Jody over to them and says here’s what happened with Jody this week, if she seems off please call me and the vet said we could call her too.

Now, back to the trip.

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My camera and my photography skills can’t do justice to how beautiful the drive was.

Saturday arrives and around 7 am we are on the road. And oh, what a pretty road. We got to see the Rockies from any number of angles and after six years of living in Houston, I can’t get enough of seeing the mountains.

At some point the petsitter calls us which immediately fills us with fear and dread – Jody’s acting a bit funny. She seems to be walking a bit stiff and she’s not herself. The pet sitter kindly agrees to call the vet and get back to us. Several long minutes later we talk again and the vet said, “it’s ok – but if it gets worse then you should worry and bring her to me.” We’re nervous but it checks out, Jody was at the vet on Tuesday so surely we must be fine.

The drive from our house to the park is no quick trip, it’s almost seven hours. About five hours in we stop off for a nice sit down lunch at a Mexican place. Sadly, it is the best Mexican restaurant we’ve been to since moving here (why can’t our town have this place!).

Finally we reach the park. It’s been a long day on the road, but we are here and it’s 3 or 3:30 pm. We head in to the visitors center and I buy (of course) a pack of postcards and find out where to check in for our campsite. While I’m putzing around the gift shop the pet sitter calls. Dread, once again.

The pet sitter is on her way to the vet with Jody because she definitely seemed worse. My wife, who has had Jody since Jody was just a puppy, is fearing the absolute worst. We sit and wait to hear word from the pet sitter / the vet anxiously in the parking lot. After what felt like a very long time we hear from the vet – Jody could have had a stroke, or might have some sort of inflammation in the brain, or other. Another possibility is that Jody could’ve gotten into something toxic, but we think that’s unlikely. It’s hard to tell if what happened Sunday night (a good bit of vomiting) was related to the gall bladder or this … The vet recommends we take Jody to the local college where they have a 24/7 vet setup to have her looked at by someone who knows the ways of dog brains. Aha, dog brain specialist. (It actually wasn’t nearly as expensive as I had assumed that kind of phrase would imply.)

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“Say darling, isn’t that view great? But wouldn’t it be nice if we were driving toward it? Well, we’re in luck!”

Our pet sitter, who, again, is awesome, took Jody to the college to be seen and the lady and I wave goodbye to the national park visitor center (oh and what a visitor center!) and we begin the drive back.

A seven-ish hour drive after having done a seven-ish hour drive with the added bonus of fearing you won’t get to say goodbye to your dog is a hellish experience.

The good saint pet sitter kept us informed of Jody’s status regularly on the drive back, and she sat at the college vet and waited (and waited, and waited). Somewhere between 9 and 10 pm we found out they said Jody likely had a stroke. This led to a lot of relief and cautious optimism on our part. A stroke certainly isn’t good news, but it was better than the alternatives, and much better than the fears dancing in my wife’s head. We’d make it home to see her, and as my wife said, it’d make us more aware and appreciative of Jody than we’d been before.

A bit after midnight we picked Jody up and then drove home to sweet, sweet sleep.

Jody is still not herself, her movement can be a bit funny at times, and we have a list of questions for the vet (the vet is also awesome and said call away and ask questions – which we will certainly take advantage of). BUT, Jody is here, and she seems to be coming around to normalcy a little bit. I think we’ve got a different Jody on our hands now, but we’ll take it, and we’ll do the best we can to nurse her back to health.

Last but certainly not least – happy Memorial Day! Cook up some food, be thankful, appreciate your life and the hard work of those in the armed services.

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