Sam doesn't like going to the vet, but because he is so obedient, he hops out of the car cheerfully and comes right along with me.
We go through the door, and he trots straight to the scale. When he was a pup, the scale frightened him; we coaxed him on with treats and gradually he came to understand this to be the first stop in the building.
Off the scale, he goes back toward the front door, happy to leave again right away if I say so. But I reel him in and reassure him with soft stroking.
He weighs 122 pounds today. His temperature is elevated. His eyes show less spirit than I consider normal.
He misses his Papa.
"What'll I do, when you are far away, and I am blue, what'll I do?"
The Irving Berlin tune runs through my head. Sam will eat things he should not, that's what he will do. And I will find myself with him at the vet, swearing to Doctor Katherine that I am not one of those crazy mothers with Munchausen Syndrome, Canine Edition. She laughs. We all know that Sam eats things: socks, dish cloths, cloth napkins, paper towels, knitting, even a shirt sleeve once. The dog appreciates textiles.
"His membranes are tacky," she tells me, which apparently means he is dehydrated. She manipulates his abdomen and finds a hard, sausage-like section, which may be something caught, or may just be what goes through naturally and sometimes creates its own blockade.
While she presses, his anxious panting ceases, replaced by an ominous silence. His large, pink tongue hangs out of a head bent so low he could nearly lick the floor.