I knew there was a problem when I heard the second yelp.
I had just come back from Lexington, and Tilly the Brave, our youngest Boston Terrier, had run gleefully outside along with Fitz. While they ran into the grass, I began carting the day’s purchases inside.
When I heard the first yelp, I figured Fitz had maybe bulldozed Tilly a little too hard while they were playing.
But when I heard the second yelp, I looked over and saw that my two dogs were spinning in circles. Tight, fast circles.
Then there was a third yelp.
I walked closer and saw that a swarm of yellow jackets had attacked my poor little dogs. And with each yelp, Tilly was getting stung.
You know when you have those moments in life when everything starts to move in slow-mo and you just … can’t … move … fast … enough? That was then.
I ran to Tilly and started swatting the yellow jackets off her. I scooped her up and ran her into the house. Fitz, our eldest Boston Terrier, had by then fended off the yellow jackets and smartly ran into the house with us.
Tilly immediately wanted to be held and was shaking badly. Fitz went to hide in the closet behind my husband’s three-piece suits.
After a lifetime of dealing with Gabrielle’s tree nut allergy, I knew to be wary and called the vet. Our vet was out of town, but the receptionist recommended I give them each 25 mg of Benadryl (for your reference: it’s 1 mg of Benadryl per 1 pound of dog). Happily, they were feeling OK enough to eat the pills with cheese.
Pretty quickly, Fitz wanted to hide in the basement bedroom, his go-to during thunderstorms. But Tilly looked decidedly woozy. She’d stand and pant, and then lie back down and do nothing but slowly blink.
Each of them had several bumps under their fur that I assumed were stings.
Then Tilly threw up.
By then my friend Candice Pace, who is a vet, had told me to bring them both in to Midway Veterinary Clinic. So, feeling like my nerves would vibrate out of my body, I got them in their car seats and away we went.
Unfortunately, it was school bus hour and it took me 25 long minutes to get to the clinic. All the while, Tilly was looking rough. Not swollen or wheezing, but very, very still. They knew to expect us and as soon as I raced into reception, Tilly started throwing up again. Immediately, they scooped her up and took her to the back. And immediately, I started bawling.
Since getting Tilly and Fitz, I continue to be shocked by the intensity and purity of my love for them. On a regular basis, I can nearly hear my heart squeeze when they do something even minorly cute.
Luckily, dog people understand each other and, while I was crying and cleaning up vomit in reception, two women who were buying dog food started helping me. Then one of them hugged me, and I was nearly knocked over by how nice people can be sometimes. A tech then told me to go and wait with Fitz in the car (which I’d kept running).
I sat in the back seat with him and, together, we chatted and cried about Tilly and how great and strong she is. Actually, he mostly just talked about how he wanted to get the eff out of the car. Then I leaned in close and saw he had a stinger and piece of a yellow jacket stuck in his forehead. I took it out and kissed and kissed and kissed him.
The tech soon came out to take a look at Fitz, who heartily barked at him. She smiled, unbuckled him, and said they’d be back soon. Alone in the back seat, I called my husband and begged him to tell me everything was going to be all right.
Not 10 minutes later, the tech brought Fitz back and, five minutes after that, they told us they had a room ready for us inside. My heart had continued to live in my throat, but the speed with which everything was moving was at least distracting.
And then the door opened and in pranced Tilly, high off liquid Benadryl and some other very good drug they’d given her. Tilly licked my sandal, the vet greeted me with a smile, and said that the reaction hadn’t been too severe, but they should both stay on Benadryl for a while.
Poor William spent the remainder of the weekend trying to fight yellow jackets, who have apparently built a very deep nest in our English ivy. Despite many sprays, they “continue to land in there like planes at LAX,” according to Wm, so the Orkin guy arrives today.
As for Tilly and Fitz, they have very much enjoyed their daily dose of cheese and, luckily, have stayed away from yellow jacket nests.
So, the beat goes on. But not without a lot of extra cuddles and kisses from mom.