Saturday, a.k.a. Shudderday


I’ve been so lucky in my travels so far, sunny weather, cordial people. Well, the guy who nearly ran me over on Fulton Street in Brooklyn with his BMW wasn’t too friendly. But overall, I have no reason to have the heebie-jeebies. You know, nervous, like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. But I do. Damnit, I do.

Car wreck on 1-95

Car wreck on 1-95

Saturday, I had the shudders bad. I was about 23 miles northeast of Baltimore when traffic on I-95 came to an absolute standstill.

A wreck, of course. You know it’s bad when multiple ambulances scream by in the far left shoulder. Then the helicopter came and went. Folks were getting out of their cars, just standing out on the interstate. And there I sit, just Libby and me, engine cut, windows open. Thank goodness it wasn’t too hot. We’ve been lucky that way so far. 


A guy who’d gotten out of his car and ran the quarter mile ahead to see, came back reporting, “Car’s burned up, they’re trying to get people out.” I said a prayer and rubbed Our Lady’s belly on my air freshener and texted my daughter Lauren, telling her I’d be late into DC. A Maryland state trooper comes striding up, moments later, motioning everybody to simply get off the flippin’ freeway. Hundreds of cars, four lanes wide trying to make U-turns to head back to the exit we’d just passed. Fortunately for me, I had barely driven past it, so with a little four-wheelin’ Libby and I were off to points unknown. Through the grace of GPS we were back en route within twenty miles or minutes or so.

Libby's studying squirrel chasing

Libby’s studying squirrel chasing here at George Washington U.

And I had no trouble getting into the District, we lived here years ago and much of it is familiar. Libby turns back flips to see Lauren, who’s here on an internship. (The Beverly Hillbillies do DC, more on that later.) We sneak Libby into Lauren’s dorm here at George Washington University, and of course, Libby makes herself right at home.

We go out for a late-night cruise around the monuments – not particularly dog friendly, but then, they’re national monuments, and everybody’s tired early and we sneak back in, all stealth-like into Lauren’s dorm and crash.

Until 2:45 A.M. when Libby wakes us up coughing, coughing, coughing…and then of course, throwing up. Scares the ever-living hell out of me, BECAUSE let me tell you something, you know how they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Well, the trip across America is paved with chicken bones! I swear to you!

The first time I had to extract one from her mouth was in Chicago, where I was lovingly traipsing my darling dog across a park overlooking Lake Michigan and before I know it, she’s crunching a damn chicken bone! I got most of it out of her mouth, because they’re dangerous. Next time this happens, I’m in Brooklyn – same scenario, in a public park, moseying along- CHICKEN BONES!! Again, she almost had it, I got it away from her.

Last night in DC, in a park, we’re waiting for take out, I’m walking Libby, it’s nine-thirty, dusky, she’s sniffing around, I’m giving her the “pee” command. It’s hard to tell if they’re rooting for food or elimination, when she reels in a giant spare rib! I snatched this right out from the jaws of death! I’m pissed. I’m thinking, “why in the hell don’t people clean up their damn bones?” as I hurl it across the park, in a rage and then think, “damn, I am such a hypocrite.” 

Just then, a bunch of preppy George Washington University incoming freshmen on orientation with ice cream cones come along and sit in a big circle in the middle of the park and I’m thinking one of those girls in short-shorts is gonna get a baby-back rib poked in her butt and Lauren comes up with the food and we retire to her dorm room for the night.  That’s when the hacking begins. I was absolutely panicked. We get up, take Libby outside to walk around, because, number one, we don’t want to get thrown out of the joint; and number two, we really don’t want her to barf on the rug.

I am very worried, nearly in tears. Libby calms down, pees, seems okay. We come back up. Five flights of stairs. Rinse and repeat, same thing happens about 4 a.m., but this time, after we walk her around for a few minutes, we retire to the CAR.  I tell Lauren I’ll just sleep with Libby in the car until morning, when we can find a vet, so we won’t disturb the girls who are on the other side of our communal bathroom. We do this for a while, Libby’s snoring, I’m thinking she’s got it out of her system and we come back up, sleep until about nine-thirty. Praise God.

My Girls

My girls. Lauren probably resents this.


Libby and Lauren at the vet

Libby and Lauren at the vet. Lauren normally see physicians.

Not willing to take any chances, as I’m imagining all kinds of bad-bone scenarios, we find a fabulous vet less than two miles away near DuPont Circle who is actually open on a Sunday. Turns out it’s kennel cough. Now this is weird because I had just had Libby’s vaccinations updated before we left St. Louis, but when I got to Chicago, realized I did not have Bordatella and Lepto, something they require for dog parks there. So, I took her to a vet in Chicago and added those shots.

The vet in DC says the vaccine might have actually brought on a mild case of kennel cough, and normally healthy, active four-year-old mutts like Libby can kick it on their own, BUT she prescribed antibiotics since we’re traveling, (thank you). I insert her meds into these smelly little pill pouches which Libby eats like raw hamburger.

Dr. Sheri Procious

Dr. Sheri Procious, GREAT vet at DuPont Veterinary Clinic.

In one day she is already remarkably better, but Dr. Procious reminds me that, like humans, Libby has to take all her medicine until it’s gone and we get cough medicine to help her sleep and keep me from getting kicked out of the dorms.

Lauren and I, by this time need some medicine of our own — and it is, after all Sunday brunch time, the women’s soccer final is about to begin!




Bleary-eyed brunch

Bleary-eyed brunch

We are able to salvage our day, no dog parks for a few days, though, and lots of rest for Libby, which we obliged by coming back to the dorm for a nap.

This was only after Libby was invited to be in a magazine photo shoot by photographer Michelle Aristocrat. The model was really sweet to Libby, and yes, her make-up is really red and white. Kinda gave me the heebie-jeebies, like a lot of things inside this 24-hour shudderday.

Libby in magazine shoot - photographer Michelle Aristocrat

Photograph by Michelle Aristocrat

About Jean Ellen Whatley

Writer. Dreamer. Sometimes schemer. Journalist/memoirist/observer and sometimes constructive irritant. Prisoner of demon muses. Mother to four humans and two dogs. In my spare time, I delete phone numbers of former boyfriends.

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  1. Sounds like all is going well. No need to panic with kennel cough. Also, the model looks deathly thin. That makes me sad on so many levels but Libby looks good.

  2. Candace mann says:

    Still following, jean. Sounds like everyone could use some rest.

  3. It is so fun to read your adventures! I hear your voice as you tell them. I also confess that it was a bit reassuring to know that you do have some heebie-jeebies since I know that I would. Having said that, I think that will pass as Libby and you proceed and your journey becomes easier.

  4. Alysa Salzberg says:

    I’m so glad LIbby’s okay! And this is great information for anyone with a dog to know. I like how random LIbby’s experience was – after the vet, a photoshoot! It’s great that you’re getting to see your kids on this adventure. I hope they know how cool their mom is!