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Isabel is one of our three Shih tzu’s (the first one that moved in with us), and very clearly Charlie’s dog. He loves that little white, fluffy bundle of noise and she, when he is at home, does not leave his side. She lays on him when he is in his recliner, next to him in bed when he is sleeping and under his feet when he is sitting at his desk. She lays on the bath mat in the bathroom when he is in there, and sits on the rug behind the garage door when he is outside in his shop.

Occasionally, Charlie will say “my puppy does not feel well; I am taking her to see her doctor”. The first time he said that, I looked at him as if he had lost his mind (I may have said so too) since I had not noticed any difference in her behavior, eating habits, amount of water she consumes, etc. (despite her being his dog I am allowed to serve her breakfast and dinner, do her laundry and perform some other menial tasks for her). He insisted, took her to the vet and turns out, she was sick!

After that, I learned to trust his instincts. So, on Monday, Charlie took Isabel to the vet. Turns out, Isabel has an enlarged heart, a heart murmur, and bronchitis. They came home from the vet with a sizable bag of medications and also a sizable bill.

I don’t know how he does it, and I don’t know how she communicates with him. I love our dogs (believe it or not, all three of them) and take great care to be a responsible pet owner, attune to their needs. I make sure they are well taken care of and happy. In certain situations, they do talk to me – when they are scared, I know; when they are hungry or thirsty, I know; when they want to go outside, I know. Mostly, I also know when they are sick – when there are outward signs (they don’t eat or drink or act funny). But I do not know when they are “not feeling well” when there are no other signs!

Isabel is eleven years old. I know she is a senior citizen, but I hope Charlie has plenty of time left with her!

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