Chapter 1: The Big Bang
Dr Wilson looked down at the limp body laid out on his examination table. Resembling nothing more than a discarded piece of fur fabric; its damp black shape contrasted sharply with the table’s pristine metallic shine. Tiny enough to fit into the palm of his hand, it was hard to tell if the puppy was still alive or whether it had succumbed to the inevitable and had passed away. A little yellow ribbon adorned with tiny white paw prints was tied around the puppy’s neck, and sitting at the table’s side was the puppy’s mother, panting anxiously, her chocolate eyes darting between her puppy and the vet. Freiya reached up, planted two large feet on the table edge and gave her puppy a quick lick, her rough tongue almost knocking it off the table completely, but still it did not respond. At just two days old the puppy was blind and deaf as all puppies are, but unlike her robust brothers and sisters, this puppy was struggling to survive.
‘I’m so sorry Danielle, but we’ve done everything we can,’ said Dr Wilson, pushing the puppy to safety with one hand as he absentmindedly stroked Freiya’s silky head with the other. ‘Take the puppy home, cuddle her in nice and snug with mum and let her go peacefully.’
Danielle was one of his more sensible clients, and it slightly alarmed Dr Wilson to see her visibly upset, tears briefly appearing at the corners of her eyes before being swiftly blinked away. As she tried to maintain her composure, Danielle made one last plea for the puppy: ‘There must be something you can do surely? Can’t she stay here in intensive care for the night? I don’t mind what it costs.’
Dr Wilson sighed, glanced at the computer screen full of notes and looked back again at the sad little bundle. He was going to have to be firm. ‘No I’m sorry. It would be wrong of me to give you false hope. There really is nothing we can do for this one. I can give you some puppy milk for the others if Freiya is not producing enough.’ At the sound of her name, Frieya looked around and thumped her tail hopefully on the floor. Usually Dr Wilson was an outstanding treat dispenser.
‘Alternatively, if it’s too hard for you, you can leave her with me and…..’
‘NO!’ snapped Danielle. Freiya looked sharply round, confused. A sound reminiscent of a squeaky key being turned in an old lock built in magnitude as she tried to understand why her precious owner was so upset. Once again Freiya reached up to the table and nuzzled her puppy, this time being rewarded by a weak yip. Tiny limbs flailing, the puppy struggled and squirmed as her mother started to lick her in earnest, attempting to warm and revive her. Dr Wilson looked at the puppy and back to Danielle, shaking his head silently.
Openly crying now, Danielle lifted the puppy and put her into the cat carrier, careful to tuck her in the little nest of towels she had made, snuggled around a hot water bottle. Fully conscious the puppy wriggled, nosing against the warmth, looking for her mother and an overdue meal. Separated from her puppy, Frieya began to whine once more, the plaintive notes interspersed by Danielle’s sobs. Not to be left out, the puppy began to squeak. Dr Wilson was fleetingly tempted to join in with a disapproving series of sighs, but thought the better of it, pushing his rising irritation back into his chest where it rightfully belonged.
A patient man – so his mother said (and handsome to boot) – Dr Wilson really didn’t like noise and drama in his examination room. However, now was not the time to rush Danielle out. Not if he wanted her to remain as a client. Which he did. The Dr Wilson Benevolent Fund always needed contributions. Plastering a professional, sympathetic smile on his face, his eyes wandered over the posters for worming and neutering as he waited for Danielle to gather together both herself and her belongings. He picked at a scab on his hand where a cat had scratched him last week, a thin sliver of blood marring the cleanliness of his fingernails as the border of the scab lifted with a satisfying pop.
There was no denying it. This was the worst part of the job. Dr Wilson just wasn’t a people person. He became a vet not a doctor to avoid exactly this type of situation: a sobbing – though extremely attractive – woman and a near dead infant – albeit of the canine variety. He also had a hormonal seven stone Rottweiler to contend with. No, it was not his idea of a perfect day. And yet here he was. All for one inconsequential puppy. A little life like this would not make a difference to anyone, well except for Danielle of course, but she would forget about it in a few days. Rubbing away the smear of blood on his hand, Dr Wilson reflected he had tried his hardest to save the puppy. Sad as it was there really was nothing to be done. He had seen many puppies like this and it was best to just let them go and move on. What was this one little life in the great scheme of things? It was hardly going to achieve amazing things.
Danielle was a good client and Dr Talbot would have preferred it if she had left the puppy with him to dispose of. He knew she would be incredibly upset when it died and by the looks of it, it may not even make it home. There were seven other puppies in the litter and that was plenty for Freiya, a first time mother, to raise. Helping Danielle lift the cat carrier, in an unexpected fit of generosity, he saw her out to her car. Turning to him before climbing in, Danielle said ‘You’re wrong Dr Wilson. There’s something very special about this puppy and she IS NOT going to die. I’m not going to let her.’