What I Learned In The Doggie Emergency Room

“The one absolute,unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world- the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous- is his dog.” George Graham Vest “Eulogy on the Dog” speech during lawsuit ,1870

Any hospital emergency room is a real theater of life. Those of you who follow my newsletters know that I have not been a stranger to hospital vigils this year. I spent a good part of last night with my little guy Romeo at the Animal Medical Emergency Center in NYC.

I can hear the moans and groans now. “Please Gawd, not another chick waxing philosophical about her furry friend.” Or “Dogs should be treated like dogs and not like people so get over it..whatever IT is, Greta.”

What I learned last night did have to do with my little guy, but it also had to do with sticking to your guns, handling stress so that it doesn’t kill you, and sorting out real friends from faux.

Romeo had been lethargic and moody for a couple of days. I dangled fresh grilled chicken breast in his face and he turned his nose up. I broke out his favorite toy, the one over which he will fight me to the death rather than relinquish, and he gave it a quick sniff and went back to sleeping in his little bed.

He did not eat for a full day and a half and he didn’t want to go outside for a walk. Fine. Not feeling well. We all have our bad days.

At about 11PM last night I returned from dinner to an even MORE listless and enervated pooch. He looked at me sadly with those big brown eyes as if to say, “Help me, but I can’t tell you what’s wrong.”

I was settling in for some much-needed motivational reading and sleep when he crawled up close to my face and gave me a little whimper. That did it. No way I could just do my own thing and nestle in for the night while he suffered.

Off we went to the doggie Emergency room.

Once there he had bloodwork done, some x-rays taken and lots of palpating of his little cuddly body by the vet. (Who, by the way, looked about 12 and I’m not kidding. Young Harry Potter has a double and he works the night shift in NY.)

The waiting room was filled with people who were : crying, clapping, cuddling…depending on the diagnosis they received.

People spoke to their pets with loving words and consoled them with careful and concerned hands.

It was then that I remembered a conversation from earlier in the day. Then, I’d gotten into it with someone who was complaining about “chicks with little dogs” and commenting on how neurotic it was to love a pet deeply. “After all, the adversarial dickhead said, “they’re just animals.”

Sitting with Romeo in that waiting room, watching his baleful eyes looking at me with such trust and love, I could not fathom the concept of him being treated like “just an animal”, whatever that even means. I also realized that out of this ONE single occurrence I was being shown the simple keys to so much of life.


When I called my BFF Laura to ask her advice about what to do with Romeo she said, without hesitation, “Take him to the emergency room. You can’t risk something happening and not having done that.” Good friends understand how you tick, what makes you run, and are there for you when you call. They don’t try to change you, even if being YOU is very different than being THEM.  End of story. Anything else is something other than friendship.


IF someone tells you to do something that is not YOU, there is an inner alarm, a knowing, a “gut” feeling that cannot be ignored. If, for example, the dickhead from earlier that day had been consulted, he would have undoubtedly said, “Ahh, he’ll be fine. He’s just a dog. Don’t worry about it.” Romeo is doing better, he probably would have been OK without the midnight trip to the ER, but better safe than sorry. People will always have THEIR idea for how you should do ANYTHING. Stick to your guns.


Stress will age and kill you quicker than anything, in my opinion. When you can implement a solution to a troubling situation, then for gawd’s sake, do it. Laboring over a decision or letting it fester and grow will only stress you out and wear you down. Move quickly and decisively and then don’t look back.

It’s amazing the things you can learn at midnight with a sick dog.

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Greta Blackburn is an actress, fitness magazine editor and Founder/Director of Greta Blackburn’s FITCAMPS, which have taken place for over 20 years in locations ranging from Malibu, Maui, and Mexico to Las Vegas and served as training symposiums for fitness professionals and other interested men and women from all over the world. Today the focus at Fitcamp is making 100 the new 50.

In 2011 Greta co-authored, “The Immortality Edge” with Michael Fossel, MD, PhD. (author of the pivotal 1997 tome “Reversing Human Aging”) and Dr. Woynarowski with research and solutions based programs based on the emerging field of Telomere Biology.

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