Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Paws for Station Identification

The revision of Angry Fat Girls is due on Friday, 120 hours from now. I'm now working from a list -- have I established this point? Have I defined what this term means? Have I overused the following words? What is the arc of the story? My next task is big but I confess I've gotten to the point that it's all one blur unless I'm in the task. & that task is for after taking Daisy out for a run and writing this post before the feeling fades in the petty irritations of the guy who gave me & Dais a dirty look yesterday and not wanting to go grocery shopping.

It's good, every once in a while, to have a heart-stopping moment of near death. I had one on Thursday when Henry slipped his leash, ran into the street & got hit by a car.

Time stood still. He screamed. He scuttled back to me on three legs, holding his back right paw close to his hip. I grabbed him & held him close, then backed away to feel his leg. We were a block from a veterinarian & I turned in that direction, hoping he could make it there. By the time I looked back he had walked out the pain in his leg and was smiling up at me. Henry has the best smile.

We went home & I began fretting about what to do. I mean, he had tread marks on his rib cage. He began hacking & I began poking around his belly to see if it was hard, was there internal bleeding. He'd smile again and roll over for a belly rub. Finally I stopped in at a grooming shop, the owner of which was a vet tech for many years. "I always err on the side of caution," he said and advised me which veterinarian to take him to.

Terrible person that I am, I saw my hopes of going to Prague being pissed into the gutter. "Bring him by," Tom said. "I can take a look at least." I hustled Henry over. He jumped up on the counter & began eating cookies & Tom laughed. "If you see any lethargy take him in," he said, "but there's nothing wrong with this dog."

Then came the email I had to write to his people, in which I said I'd understand if they fired me. Mr. Henry wrote back serenely and thanked me for the update.

The relief was another moment of time standing still, & the relief was hours long -- a long walk taking him home, waiting for his owners, laughing weakly together about our concern as Henry humped his bed & Daisy humped Henry.

He's alive and alright!

I pulled my guts together to tell them what happened and I've been absolved.

Daisy is alive. I'm alive. Kids are practicing African rhythms in the basement of P.S. 8. The iris are blooming. I'll finish this revision in a week. I'll go to Prague. I'll go to the movies before I go to Prague. I could walk forever. I think my skull is touching the sky...

It lasted over night & into Friday, fading slowly. I remember that as Henry, Daisy & I waited to cross Old Fulton Street on the way home Thursday night, I had the sudden thought -- or even premonition -- I'm going to get married.

Relief is one way to live in the moment, although the cost for that kind of relief is so dangerous & so challenging to all my selfish desires to appear perfect & have my treats that I can't recommend it. By the time I stopped to talk to Tom, I was the worst dog walker ever. It was only when Mr. & Mrs. Henry & I were talking over what to watch for that Mrs. Henry asked if he'd been rubbing his ears as much this week. I had called their attention to his habit of going down on his head first & they'd been using his ear drops since. "His ears looked pretty bad last week," Mrs. H. said.

Oh, I thought. I forgot that I KNOW these dogs. I know when Hero's going to take several dumps in a walk & I know when Boomer will pick out a random stranger he thinks should be sprawled on the pavement. I know when Henry wants love and when his ears are bothering him.

Relief: Life vs. guilt. But when life wins out, it's s-w-e-e-t.


April said...

Hi Frances,
I can't say that I totally understand all of this entry, because I don't. I think maybe it is because I am decidedly NOT a pet person (I don't wish them any harm, mind you, I just don't have that "pet people" feeling). Pet people scare me with the intensity of emotion they carry for their cat or dog... or anybody's cat or dog, for that matter. Fellow humans rarely get that kind of consideration from pet people...

Even if I didn't understand some of what you were trying to share, I still enjoyed the read and I am relieved to hear that Henry is fine. Good luck with the next week of revisions and enjoy Prague. I bet you'll see dogs while you are there, too. Pet people always notice when animals are about...

Frances Kuffel said...


Imagine a nephew being hit by a car, being unsure what the damage was & how to tell his parents. The difference is that I can squeeze the brains out of Henry & he couldn't tell his people what had happened. The Bad part of me considered not telling them but I'd be SO upset if it was Daisy.

Pets are unconditional love. They don't love us that way -- that's what everyone gets wrong -- it's humans who need & dote on the pets beyond anything another human could put up with.

I hope you find that love some day.

Unknown said...

What a terrifying moment for you.

Our oldest son, then 15, was walking our Daisy-dog on her leash in the city and let her snozzle around in the debris near the gutter for a moment. That was the moment a Type-A mom dropping her kid at the JCC and yakking on her cell phone chose to zoom her SUV over to the curb so the kid could get out for his swim lesson. Veered right over both of Daisy's hind legs with her rear tire.

It all ended OK, albeit with multiple stitches and paw-pads like hamburger for a while, and permanent scars and bald spots. Our son felt TERRIBLE. My heart ached for him.

The woman in the SUV? She let her son out and took off, still on her cell phone, leaving my son cradling a bleeding Daisy on the sidewalk. A lovely woman who witnessed it helped him lift Daisy into her pickup truck and drove them home.

It must have been difficult to tell Mr. "Henry". It was the right thing to do. Bravo!

Frances Kuffel said...

I hope your son got a license plate number & chased that woman down & bonked her.

If you want to know more about people, get a dog. If want to learn the depths, walk several.

Lori G. said...

Oh, Frances, I can imagine how heart-stopping that would be and how scared I would be to write Henry's owners. But you did all of the right things.

You know, a friend of mine at work has given me some very simple advice which I'm trying hard to follow: just do the right thing.

I love how wonderful things became for you after all of that; you could hear the kids in P.S. 8, see the irises and imagine all of the good things ahead for you. I'm glad Henry (and you and Daisy and the whole dog gang) are okay.

Anonymous said...

So glad that Henry is OK and hugs on you for rising to the right thing. I have a dog. I feel, give, and receive exponentially more love to people every day because he is in my life then I ever did before. You're right. Dogs can't tell. That's why we owe them more. He makes me a better person. C/

Anonymous said...

Patt J:
Oh, I am so glad Henry is okay! (you, too.)

Annimal said...

My dog slipped under the wheel of a car and initially seemed fine. He was a little stiff, but still alert and walking. 2 days later he was massively swollen and died. His internal bleeding was slow and undetectable. I still mourn him.
You certainly did the right thing with telling.
My dog also did the head down, rubbing the ground thing--turned out he had an infected cyst deep in his ear that had to be surgically removed. Has a vet looked into Henry's ear canal?

Unknown said...

This was a terrifying post to read and I'm glad Henry came through it OK.

Anonymous said... check out Mike, Frances...he lives in Brooklyn and grows his own vegetables and is generally a rockin' single dude that just might be your man?! :)