I was reminded last night of how dogs are like children, except they don’t grow up and go away to college. A woman on twitter announced her dog had been chewing on a dead squirrel from behind her shed and was sick. I immediately though “rat poison!” which I didn’t yell to scare her, although I’m sure it didn’t help, but because in a dog centered world, like a kid centered one, you’re the mommy in charge of safety and care of the little bugger, except dogs can’t say “ow, it hurts here.” In fact, their job, they feel, is to hide any pain or weakness for fear of being left behind by the pack. Just like men.
Zephyr has managed so many hairbrained, split second danger diversions it’s amazing I leave the house with him at all. Here are a few ringers:
1. As reminded, the day I looked down at the park and saw a squirrel tail hanging out of his mouth as if he’d swallowed a Davy Crockett hat. Me, being seasonably calm, pushed down on his head with my left hand then yanked up the tail with my my right. Insta-squirrel jerky and all in one piece. Dogs don’t savor anything, the smellier the faster it’s gone. This includes so many other unsavory items one finds in a park, along the river, I can’t even mention because it’s early and it will ruin your breakfast.
2. Engulfed in biting wasps when he stepped on a hive at the river. Screaming, swatting and running for our lives. We escaped, but Zephyr went from adrenaline high to nearly dropping as we neared the car. I now keep Benedryl everywhere.
3. Attacked by pitbull & me playing super adrenaline mom, grabbed huge pitbull and wrestled it to its back on the ground. I was VERY lucky that time.
4. Peaceful river walk ends when Zephyr tears into a bramble hedge hiding a coyote den. Horrid teeth gnashing and yelping ensue. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t get to him and I was certain he was a goner. When the sound softned to no sound at all I sobbed and ripped through the limbs until there was a nose poking back at me. I yanked him out, no visible blood anywhere, unimaginable. I body checked him to the end, his ass, where I found a deep hole the size of a silver dollar. He must have turned in fright at momma coyote who gnashed him in the hind quarters. Through the grace of god I had my own vet pharmacy at home: antibiotics and pain meds, which saved us, because it was a Saturday evening of Memorial Day weekend. Of course it was.
I see all these gleeful puppy owners in the park, people who have never had a dog before and I imagine if they really knew what they were getting into they would have passed. “What’s to a dog, ” I overheard one guy tell another. “You feed it and walk it once in a while.” I already felt sorry for this guy–but mostly for the dog.
When I found my first and dearest dog, Shadow, 13 yrs ago I had no idea what I was getting into, even though I grew up with a dog. Looking back over the years to follow I can’t imagine it without him. When Shadow died he left behind Zephyr and now it’s just the two of us. After a painful prolonged ending for Shadow, I no longer wait around until the end to be thankful.
Everyday, Zephyr helps me practice the Art of Now. Be here now, because there may not be a later. (Oddly, I can do this for him, with him, but not as much for me.) Often, when I’m rushing around with a list of errands and Zephyr hasn’t been walked even once I stop and ask myself, “which is more important in the long run, finishing errands or walking Zephyr? I often make myself choose the later, because at the end of my day, year, life, I don’t want to look back and say “well, at least I got all those errands done. Phew!” What I do want to say is “I raised two dogs, loved them and cared for them to the best of my ability.” It isn’t monumental. It won’t make headlines, but it’s an ending I feel I can peacefully live with.