Quiet Desperation

If at first you don’t succeed, face the facts


My roommate has had five seizures in the past eighteen months. They lasted from four minutes to centuries, it seems.

Fortunately, I have been nearby each time to do whatever I can to assure his safety. I also try to talk him through.

Once they end, it takes a while — fifteen minutes — for him to fully recover, and then it’s as if nothing happened.


(There is nothing funny about pet seizures or human seizures. However, because of Harry architecture, there has been some adjacent humor.)

I have documented the most recent ones: time of day, what Harry had done the day before and what he was doing when the seizure occurred.

Dr. Nina Clow, at Quebec Highlands Animal Clinic in Highlands Ranch, outlined possibilities based on what I was able to tell her.

All of the seizures happened when Harry was sleeping. This led Dr. Clow to one preliminary conclusion, but she wanted to test blood samples and something else before making an assertion and recommending treatment.

The something else was a urine sample.

The likelihood of that? About the same as if she had asked me to obtain a urine sample from a butterfly.

The best time, she said, was first thing in the morning, “As long as you don’t get up at 3 a.m.”

I get up at 3 a.m. That’s when the paper is delivered.

It’s usually dark at 3 a.m. It’s not a good time to be in the back yard with a small, plastic tray and following a young animal of any kind in hopes of correctly positioning the tray under it.

What is a good time?


Andrea Kuhns, at Veterinary Centers of America (VCA) in Highlands Ranch, said, “What we do here is walk the patient on a leash, so we are close, and quickly place the tray under when they urinate.”

Tried it. Harry jumped as I would have if someone had placed a tray under me.

There are additional challenges.

Harry is extremely low to the ground. This is what makes a dachshund a dachshund.

Harry is much younger than I am.

Harry is much quicker than I am.

Harry doesn’t want me or anyone else doing this.

I thought about tickling him. I know that works on some people.

Or telling him cat jokes until he laughed so hard he “participated.”

“What’s a cat’s favorite magazine?” I asked.

There was no reply.

“`Good Mousekeeping.’”

Nothing, not even a smile.

I said, “Sorry, bad joke.”

Then I had another idea.

Would Dr. Clow be able to tell the difference between a dog sample and a human sample?

I asked. She said something about “specific gravity” which I did not understand. Nevertheless, I felt guilty for bringing it up.

I also asked about a training pad and wringing it out into the tray.

No, because the absorption material would contaminate the sample.

Finally, I conceded. Can’t do it.

Longtime readers might remember Smitty. He preceded Harry. Near the end of his life, Smitty was incontinent. This would have been a snap.

To give you an idea: during a seizure, Harry looks like he’s being electrocuted. It’s very difficult to watch. It’s impossible to watch.

But as I said, fifteen minutes later he’s ready for anything.

Anything except cooperating in a small plastic tray.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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