But, thank God, x-rays didn't show anything ominous or even suspicious. Dr. Arnott suspects the culprit is a slightly compressed disk on her spine that's pressing against a nerve. Very short walks, lots of rest, and anti-inflammatories should help relieve her distress. Hopefully, in a couple weeks, the nerve will settle down and my girl will be back in fine form.
Of course, Hazel was with me. Can't take one without bringing the other is the Rule of Dog, even if it's a visit to the vet. As Dr. Arnott sat on the floor, playing and cuddling with both dogs, he made the observation that my feisty Hazel appears to be asserting herself as the alpha dog in our household. He asked how Olivia is with this young upstart trying to dethrone her.
She seems fine, I replied, probably because I still treat her as the alpha dog: I greet her first, feed her first, leash her first, and, every evening, always cuddle with her before moving on to Hazel. I then added my own observation that Olivia had really mellowed over the three years that I've had her. Dr. Arnott and I both recalled those unsettling first few months when my spirited girl lunged at other dogs, growled at people passing by, and even snapped at me on more than one occasion. While I didn't miss her aggressive attitude, it saddened me to think that Olivia, now six, might be losing her edge due to age.
But Dr. Arnott had another take, one that I hadn't considered.
"Olivia's not slowing down because of age," he said. "She was aggressive only because she didn't know any other way to be. Who knows how she was treated at the track?" I agreed, citing that to this day she still bolts and hides whenever she sees a fly swatter. He continued.
"Now, with you, she feels loved. Safe. What you see today--this mellow, sweet, affectionate dog--this is the real Olivia, not that scared dog you first adopted. Olivia doesn't need to be the alpha dog because she trusts you. She's happy."
Olivia was still limping when we left Dr. Arnott's office, but I knew, with time, love, and care, she would heal. Just as she had on the inside, a thought that warmed my heart beyond measure. And I took my girls home.