Ray is unwell.
It started the night before last. He had been feeling fine and had been a busy dog all day, poking his head into bags, boxes, and closets whenever my head was turned. Then, roundabout 9:30, Ray got up off of his favorite pillow and ran outside to yell at the back fence. He does this sometimes when something is passing through the yard. He was out there yelling slightly longer than usual but we didn't think anything of it.
When he came in and followed me upstairs to bed, he couldn't settle down. He stood outside the bedroom door and whined a bit (he's only allowed in during the day, not at night while we're sleeping - the cats can come and go through the door held ajar by the hook-and-eye). Ray never whines at the bedroom door. He knows the protocol. (Lately, though, he has enjoyed chasing the cats as they come and go through the crack in the door.) I heard him get up on his futon, then moments later, get off of his futon. He started making a gacking noise kind of like a cat does when it has a hairball. He headed down to the stair landing and gacked a few times, then went all the way down the stairs. I told Gregg what was happening. He sat on the bottom stair and talked to the dog, patting him a bit while Ray stood miserably next to him. We watched Ray for a minute or two, then I headed back upstairs followed by the hound.
I put the hook and eye on the bedroom door. Once again, Ray stood outside it with his head at the crack, whining. I went out and squatted next to the dog. He pushed his head into my chest. I could feel his misery but didn't know it's source.
I went and retrieved Ray's dog bed, the one he uses when we travel, and put it right outside the bedroom door. I threw his scratchy blanket on top of it and Ray immediately curled up. I went to bed.
The next morning when I got up, Ray was sleeping on his futon. Gregg greeted me with the news that Ray had thrown up on the stair landing sometime in the night.
"It was a lot," he said.
(For people used to cleaning up cat barf, the quantity of barf disgorged by a big dog is an amazing thing.)
Ray stayed in bed until 9:00. I thought maybe he should get some fresh air and exercise before the day became hotter, so I urged him to get up, packed him into the back of the car, and headed to the lake. It's only a mile to the lake, but by the time we got there, Ray had thrown up again.
Ray started down the path trotting, which I thought was a good sign, but after only a short distance was stopped dead in his tracks by the trots, which I thought was a bad sign. We turned and headed back to the car.
I called the vet, got an appointment for the afternoon and went about my business, which it turns out, is worrying about my dog.
When we met with the vet. I told her the sequence of events as she examined Ray.
"Well," she said, "He has gastroenteritis and pancreatitis."
"What causes that?" I asked.
"He probably got into something he shouldn't," she replied, "But it's hard to say what. You should go home and check out your backyard and see if you can find anything dead that he might have eaten."
The vet gave Ray a couple of shots for nausea and upset stomach, gave me some pills to give to him the next day, told me to feed him a bland diet - just a little bit at a time throughout the day, and to call me if he wasn't feeling better in a day or two.
I took my dog, paid my bill, and we left.
As Ray slept the day away, I scoured the backyard for dead things but did not find a one.
This morning Ray's appetite is good. We made it around the block without any attacks from Montezuma and now he is sleeping in Gregg's chair. We are hoping for a complete recovery by the end of the day.