Chapter Twelve: Heartbreaking but Good News
I felt my whole world sink into a dark, wet hole. I saw everything that I had built from the ground up tumble, crumble, and collapse into a heap of dust and tears. I wanted so desperately to have something to take care of, besides patients obviously, something I could come home to. Something that reminded me of what I lost. Now I felt the pain in my heart consume my entire body. "E-e-excuse me for a moment," managed to escape my lips as I walked out the door.
Fortunately for me, the rest room door was right next to the exam room where I was. I walked inside, not feeling my legs that carried me. I locked the wooden door behind me and turned on the fan. By then, the hot, stinging tears had already started forming in my eyes. You should have known better Jimmy. My thoughts told me, in a voice sounding raw and edgy. A dog that beautiful has a loving, devoted owner that misses him very much. A family of owners. A set of parents and kids. Like what you could have had if you had stopped Greg from going out in that ice storm five years ago.
I bit my lip until I felt it was going to bleed and add more warm, wetness to my face. I still blamed myself for the accident, even though Dr. Cheryl said I had no control of House's impulsiveness. I had no control over the weather. No control of his motorcycle as he crashed. No control of anything. Not even of the fact that Greg the Husky had an owner to go home to.
Releasing a shaky, heavy sigh and wiping my eyes on my sleeve, I began to calculate how I must compose myself. I couldn't just walk into the exam room with red, puffy eyes and blame it on autumn allergies. No. Not even a blind person could fall for that one. I turned on the faucet and let the cold, numbing water fall into my hands. I splashed some on my face, until my whole face turned red. At first glance, it looks like I was just extremely embarrassed to find out the news. Yeah. Something like that.
I walked back out, feeling a little bit better, and braved a smile for the waiting room guests. Walking back inside the room, I was greeted by a happy, tail-wagging Greg. He looked so happy to see me, as if I had disappeared for twenty years at least. I crouched down and scratched behind his ears, those icy eyes closing in pleasure. Once I stood up, he stood by my side with a serious expression on his face. Whether you believe it or not, I believe that dogs can reflect human emotion. Yeah, too many cartoons as a kid have warped my mind.
"So what is the verdict Dr. Karen?" I asked, feeling that my strength was leaving the room with every passing second. I felt a weight on my foot, and looking down, I saw Greg put his paw on my tennis shoe, as if holding my hand. Yes, I know, keep dreaming. Gregory House is no longer alive. Get it straight.
"Well, you can call the owner if you want. If you feel you are unable, I can make the call. Either way, it is best we let Mr. and Mrs. Huber know that their dog is safe and sound." Dr. Karen told me in a calm, reassuring voice. She removed her glasses, making her caramel coloured eyes stand out. She also straightened her honey coloured ponytail, and offered me a small smile. I took it. I also took the phone that she held out for me and dialed the number that was on the notecard on the counter.
I took a long breath as the phone rang. It rang once and then an older female voice answered. "Hello? This is Barb Huber." I felt my body start to shake, but my voice stayed steady as I said. "Hello Mrs. Huber. My name is Dr. James Wilson. I was at the cemetery last night and I found your dog. He is okay, just a little malnourished with some nerve damage on his leg, but otherwise he seems very happy. I brought him to the vet today and we located you with the chip you implanted in his back. We are at the Animal and the Master's Clinic in Princeton. I will wait for you to come pick him up."
There was silence on the other end, and I thought for a moment that she was in shock or denial. I waited patiently, something that took years of practice, and many self help talks. "Mrs. Huber?" I questioned about two minutes later. The husky lifted his head from my foot, and tilted it in confusion, as if asking the same thing nonverbally.
Suddenly I heard her voice again, and it sounded small and weak. "Please, Dr. Wilson. Find a place in your heart to take care of him. My husband, Jack, was very abusive to our dog. His name is George. Jack would hit him constantly, calling him all sorts of unmentionable names, and telling him that no one would ever love him. He would pour cold water all over him and leave him outside for long periods of time. No one found out because George hardly went anywhere. I know that he will have a better home with you."
When I heard this elderly woman speak, I was hit with the nauseating realization that George the Husky was more similar to Gregory House than I thought. They were both abused without mercy by their "fathers" and both had very frail mothers that just wanted what was best for them. I felt something like a cold, smooth stone drop in my stomach, and asked when I found my voice again. "When and how did he go missing?"
Barb seemed to sigh deeply as if reminiscing for a moment. When she spoke again, her voice gained volume slightly. "He ran away about in December of last year during a terribly frightening ice storm. I thought I would never see him again. I am grateful to know he is okay though. Thank you Dr. Wilson."
It felt as if sunshine was radiating from the phone, I couldn't believe my luck, or the coincidence of everything that had happened in the last day and a half. Feeling excited now I asked another question, "Does he have any special medical problems I should know about? Is there anything I shouldn't do with him?"
Barb laughed, a light beautiful sound, and it sounded like it had been held back for a long period of time. "Just don't call him "Boy" and make sure he listens to some rock music everyday. Whenever Jack would go to work I would play some Beatles music for him on the piano. He seemed to like that a lot."
"Thank you so very much Mrs. Huber. If you ever need anything or you want to visit George I would completely understand it. My number is---" I got cut off my Barb who said, "Don't you worry about a thing Dr. Wilson. He is in good hands I trust you."