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Bill Giduz

- Bill Giduz

Thanksgiving Dog

Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012

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John Syme

John Syme graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor of arts degree in French in 1985. He worked as a general-assignment reporter at The Winston-Salem Journal, where he later wrote freelance travel stories during his first solo cross-country road trip in the summer of 1989. He worked as a copywriter at a Charlotte advertising agency, as a research translator at a French nutrition center outside Paris, and as a politics and education newspaper reporter in Charlotte. He returned in 2001 to Davidson, where he is senior writer, alumni editor and instigator of the "Road Trip 2009" blog, which evolved into his current blog, "Daybook Davidson."

Did you hear the one about the dyslexic atheist? He doesn’t believe in dogs!

I do.

My dog Dodger—a Long-Leggedy Carolina Fooldog Pointer-Hound who can run 32 mph and touch the eight-foot mark upside a tree with a damn squirrel in it—is reminding me to be thankful this Thanksgiving.

Last week, what I thought was a fatty cyst like lots of dogs get has turned out to be a mast cell tumor like lots of dogs also get. It’s on his… near his… well, it’s in his personal area, and it needs to be gone.

The good news is that it appears to be of the less-evil kind of mast cell tumor, in clinical terms of grade and, hopefully, stage of progression. More good news is that a pre-op ultrasound came back clean on his abdominal organs, and even on his sub-lumbar lymph nodes, which I didn’t even know he had! And finally, bonus good news: while he was doped up, the wonderful and talented Dr. James & Company also fixed a toenail that Dodger had broke bloody last week, the very day of his diagnosis, when he scratched off extra-hard on asphalt going after a damn squirrel.

Damn squirrels beware: Dodger remains currently in fine health other than the small lump on his down-below, which he didn't even notice until the rest of us started palpating it every which way, not to mention stuck a needle in it.

And here’s hoping and praying—if you can’t pray for a good dog, well bless your heart—that he stays just as healthy for many a moon after next week’s snip-snip lands him temporarily in a conical, comical Collar of Shame.

In the meantime. Dodger is reminding me to be thankful

• For the people at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control out by the airport, who do such a hard job I could never do, and from whose hope-filled death row I have plucked two pure dog souls.

• For Dodger’s predecessor dog soul Oscar, whose earthly ashes rest by a quiet stream on Davidson College’s back campus, and whose abiding spirit I bade enter Dodger every single day in early 2008, when I was barely able to constrain Dodger in a 969-square-foot condo and a nine-to-five job.

• For the good neighbors at home and the indulgent colleagues at work, who got us through those initial Xanax days with patience and humor and the occasional pointed word to Moody Master, richly deserved.

• For a good dog trainer who taught us precisely how to use a shock collar so that we didn’t have to continue using it, or heaven forbid, a crate, which Dodger tore up anyway. Two of them, in fact.

• That no one ever responded to the fliers I posted around town trying to find this dog a better home (ha!) back then—so that instead Dodger the Carolina Fooldog could ride with me in an open car to California and back in the summer of ’09.

• For shared cold chicken by the kitchen sink, for Boudreaux the cat and his kibble even when I forget to put it up out of reach in the closet before I leave the house, for Odor-X even though it doesn’t work that great, for an open car on an open road and big ol’ ears that flap in the wind, for baleful looks on parting and a tail that wags every single daily reunion no matter what, for dream yelps and damn squirrels and even the occasional flea… for dog as I understand him, I give thanks this Thanksgiving.

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