There’s something wrong with Roo. She doesn’t want to walk much and she’s eating less. I took her to the vet in Asheville, and she got a clean bill of health, but I don’t beleive it. I took Roo to that clinic because it used to be good, but Roo’s old vet wasn’t there. This time, a young vet cam in. She was wearing the biggest diamond ring I’ve ever seen — and I grew up in the building in New York where Zsa Zsa Gabor lived, and even though she liked ‘em big, old Zsa Zsa would have drawn the line at this one. This diamond was the sort of thing Saudi princes in Monte Carlo hand out to guarantee the good humor of Russian hookers sent as a personal favor by Vladimir Putin to make up for getting stiffed when he sent them to Trump. Just being in the same room with a diamond that size was distracting. Not only because it kept glinting at everything — the vet was small and the weight of the rock as hard for her to handle. She had to constantly rearrange it on her finger as the force of gravity pulled it down and lodged itself on the palm side of her finger where it felt like she was holding a handful of gravel. She was the worst vet I have ever encountered. She answered no questions, made no comments, smirked as she tried to control herself from saying what she really thought about my questions. She did a check up, gave me something for Roo’s sore and handed me a bill for $300.
We went to Asheville when the cold blasted us out of Virginia and we were forced to move southward to avoid the next wave of it. Roo didn’t seem to be doing badly, other than a sore she picked up on her back leg. The sore was probably caused by a burr, and it was not a big deal.
The previous weeks of cold were hell. Just opening the door of the camper meant the inside air temp would drop to five degrees and have to be nursed back up to a survivable range. It was too cold even for Roo. That was when she started wanting to walk less, and I assumed it was just because it was too cold. Then I began to think that the reduction in her usual routine might have accounted for her slowing down.
No offense to those of you in the South, but I wasn’t enthused about the idea of going back there. The Confederate flags, the incredible levels of segregation and racism, the Trump signs everywhere. Crumbling schools, gleaming gun shops, big-hair Prosperity Gospel preachers with vanity license plates. I’m pretty sure I saw one that said JE$U$ and had a state-issued anti-abortion message on it. Every parking lot has a couple of crackers standing around smoking Camels out of a flourescent-colored pack and sneaking swigs of beer out of paper bags. Every one of them looking around to see if you’ve been sent by the Lord to fulfill their dream of finally getting to shoot someone. If you’re white, you have the advantage of their knowing youre off-limits. In the southern woods, there are frequent nighttime hobbyist explosions and campground gunfire. The sound of Liberty, they like to say.
The poorer the southern town — the poorest are of course African-American — the more it is geared to sucking every last dime out of the citizens. Go to a Piggly-Wiggly in any town where there is not another grocery store withing 20 miles, and milk costs more than it does at a Whole Foods in Santa Monica. The bread trucks get there last and the bread they deliver was turned away by the managers of other stores for being crushed or stale. And since that malevolent blimp Trump appeared on the horizon, airborne on the strength of hot bullshit about to burst and rain its stinking bile on all below, there is increased hatred and suspicion everywhere. You feel it constantly. I was in a pharmacy the day Trump called some African countries shitholes. The pharmacist was from one of the shitholes, and you could see how hurt he was. I asked him if I could shake his hand and thank him for being here and that he wasn't the only one who would have to wait the bastards out but that we would and they could all go to hell. My prescription happened to be ready a lot quicker than those of some others ahead of me. The South is hellish. And, it’s intent on dragging the rest of the country down to its level. Arkansas senators saying that too bad if you were only two when you broke the law. You were still a wetback, weren’t you? Okay, then. Get the hell out. Alabama Republicans getting behind a child predator. The main complaint seems to be the deep desire to get rid of “political correctness,” otherwise known as being able to refer to a black person in the language of a lynch mob, and hopefully, get back to a system of justice that understands the clear necessity of the lynch mob itself. Isn’t that what JE$U$ would have wanted? That and a few more guns in the hands of the righteous?
But we had to go. The cold had been too extreme. The wind chill had dropped to twenty-five below zero one night, curtailing the amount of time Roo spent rolling in the grass when she went out to pee.
I wondered if the extended period during which we were stuck in the trailer almost 24 hours a day because of the brutal cold had anything to do with Roo not feeling well. She is, after all, used to being a field dog. She put some weight on, but I chalked that up to the lack of exercise. So, my main concern was getting her someplace where she could run and dig and swim. I chose Pine Mountain, Georgia because there is a state park there close to Warm Springs, the place Franklin Roosevelt went to for his polio treatments, a place he loved and the place where he died in 1945. His home there is movingly simple, just a little, three-room white clapboard house with pine-paneled walls. His bedroom is the size of a bed and a desk with a straightback wheelchair. The living room only big enough for a sofa and a couple of armchairs. There’s something good just about being in FDR’s old neighborhood. And, with the predicted improvement in the weather, Roo would be able to do her thing.
For a few days she did do some running around. She dug a few holes and splashed in a few muddy streams. But, when it snowed unexpectedly one night and she wasn’t too excited about the snow, I began to worry. And she seems to be tiring quickly. Most of the time, as soon as we get outside, she asks to carry her leash, which is her way of saying she wants to go back. And, over the last few days, she seems to be eating less. Something’s up.
I’d rather get squashed under a rock again than make another 800-mile drive, but the only idea I have is to take Roo back to her favorite place, and it happens to be 800 miles west, that campground on the ranch in Oklahoma. She has more liberty there than just about anywhere. She rarely needs to be leashed and there are entire pastures where she is safe to wander and hunt at her own pace without much danger as long as the cottonmouths are still hibernating. It’s filled with rats and everyone else she likes to chase and dig up. And, Dr. Stokes, the vet who took care of her last year, is there, and he is one of the greats.
So, that’s where we’re off too. I’m not confident that the truck is up to it, let alone the last of the credit cards, but we’re going to give it a shot.
I have made so many bad decisions. The days when you wonder if it’s possible to get more tired start to add up. I hope this isn’t another one of them, but I don’t know what else to do. I’ve got to try to get Roo back on track.