I extend my apologies to the two most recent Motel 6’s my dog and I patronized — for, despite my best efforts to clean things up, I fear Ace left his mark, or at least a distinct scent.
Ace, just like John Steinbeck’s Charley — and almost as if on script — got sick in Spokane.
For Charley, the problem was being unable to pee, and it began, according to “Travels with Charley” in Idaho, the night Steinbeck counseled a father and son from who he rented a cabin for the night.
The teenager wanted to leave the rural Idaho and move to New York to pursue a career in hairdressing … “Not barbering — hairdressing — for women,” Steinbeck quotes the father as saying. “Now maybe you see why I got worries.”
To his credit, Steinbeck, as he describes it, supported the son’s career choice:
“I tell you that a clever, thoughtful, ambitious hairdresser wields a power beyond the comprehension of most men,” he explained to the worried dad.
That night, Steinbeck’s poodle Charley woke his master with his whines. The dog’s abdomen was distended and his nose and ears were hot, Steinbeck noted. “I took him out and stayed with him, but he could not relieve the pressure.”
Steinbeck, playing vet, gave Charley some of his sleeping pills, Seconal, assuming it would relax the dog’s tensed up insides. According to the book, Charley fell alseep on the bed, fell off it, tried to get up, and stumbled. He managed to walk outside briefly before coming back inside and immediately falling asleep again.
The next morning, Steinbeck rushed him to a veterinarian in Spokane, who diagnosed Charley as an old dog. On Steinbeck’s insistence though, he eventually agreed to give the dog a pill to help flush out his kidneys. Once in Seattle — where Charley rested up for a few days in some undisclosed whereabouts — Steinbeck questioned whether the constant vibration of his camper, Rocinante, might be the cause of, or at least contributing to, his dog’s troubles.
I was asking myself some similar question as Ace and I drove from Spokane toward Seattle. Is the trip taking a toll on him? Should we stop and visit a vet? His problem wasn’t the same as Charley’s. It was diarrhea. Other than that — the sudden need to poop and its runny consequences — he showed no signs of being sick. He still ran in circles and played at our rest stops. His nose was cold. His eyes were clear. He was, as always, ready to eat.
I’d cleaned up four runny piles of poop at the Motel 6 in Spokane — all of which were deposited as I slept — and was worried the next night might bring the same.
I went ahead and drove all the way to Seattle’s outskirts, wanting to clear Snoqualmie Pass before more snow came, but — not wanting to show up with a runny dog at the house of some old friends who’d agreed to put us up — I checked into a Motel 6 in Kirkland.
I realized the next morning it was a good choice — for me and my friends, if not for the Motel 6. Ace had left another deposit on the floor. Having used up all my paper towels the night before, I resorted to trying to clean it up with toilet paper and copious amounts of water. I scooped, and blotted, then scrubbed, which would leave little pills of toilet paper all over the spot, but eventually it turned the same color as the rest of the carpet. And opening the windows wide was helping air the place out.
Even as I worked to clean things up though, Ace would head to the door with a panicky look in his eyes. He left several more unscoopable deposits outside.
I called my friends and warned them, suggested even that maybe they won’t want us as house guests. I was worried Ace might mess their home, or contaminate their two dogs. They told me to come on over.
My friend Marilyn, a nurturing type, told me not to worry, and fed Ace some cottage cheese. Then she cooked up some rice, which he’d eat for dinner the next two nights.
I decided to wait another day before contacting a vet and went to sleep worried — and with one hand on Ace, who was sprawled out on the bed next to me, in hopes that if he stirred, it would wake me up.
It worked, and about an hour after I fell asleep, he got up, and so did I, immediately seeing that panicked look in his eyes. We rushed down the stairs and outside, then went back to bed — once again with my hand resting atop him. The rest of the night was, thankfully, poopless; but he got up early to rush outside again.
So far, the cream-colored carpets have remained cream-colored. Marilyn, in saintly fashion, has continued to pamper him. There have been no accidents. I’ve got my fingers crossed and — probably on account of worrying so much about his stomach — a sort of non-peaceful, queasy feeling in mine.