My friend Susan and I have been talking recently about how life can turn on a dime. While her husband’s sudden and unexpected heart attack at age 56 is significantly a more significant example than mine, just the same, she’s right: Life can turn on a dime.
We live our lives like we know what’s going to happen next when we really don’t. Jesus said that none of us can increase our own lives by even a moment. Of course, we sort of have to live like we know what’s going to happen next or we’d all end up with anxiety disorders, I suppose. We have to get up in the morning, make our coffee, make our plans, and act like we’re in control of what’s going to happen next. But we aren’t. Not really.
Yesterday dawned just like any other day except I woke up with a bad sore throat. As I was brewing my morning tea and trying to decide if I was really sick or just felt really sick, I let the dogs out in the yard for their morning constitutional. And then I didn’t give them another thought. I was so absorbed with my sore throat and my plans for the day that I didn’t hear a thing, if there was a thing to hear.
The cats were acting strangly, meowing to get out and then instantly clawing the door to be let back in. Oh wait. They’re cats. That’s how cats always act. There was nothing strange about the morning. It was just as usual, except my throat was really, really sore.
My husband was doing dump runs, meaning that we take our own trash to the dump, and, like the cats, was in and out. As I was stirring sugar into my Fortnum & Mason breakfast tea, my husband came in from the garage, opened the top of the back door, the same beautiful periwinkle door that I have pictured here that I love so much, to yet again let in a cat, and said, with the most horrified look on his face, “OH MY GOD!”
Like a phone call at 2am when your teenager isn’t home, horrified exclamations of “OH MY GOD!” are never good. At that moment, just before I knew what was going to happen next, I wished the day hadn’t started at all. Just for one fleeting moment I wondered if I could run away from my life; could I just not have to know what was going to happen next? I didn’t want to know what my husband was seeing. No such luck. Time marches on dragging us with it. We have no choice.
What my husband was seeing was our sweet little ten-year old bichon, Jean-Luc, standing dazedly at the back door dripping with blood from muzzle to shoulder. What the hell had happened?!?! We hadn’t heard a sound. Not a bark, not a cry, nothing. Nothing to indicate what or who could have done this.
I scooped him up and raced to the laundry room to find a towel while shutting our little lab, who had been following on his heels, in the bathroom. With complete dread, I pulled back his copious curly fur and saw at once that his neck was torn wide open. The hole was so big that I could look down into the muscles of his shoulder moving within him. It was terrible and horrible and his eyes had that faraway look of someone who’d seen and experienced something really, really awful and just might die because of it.
I ran to the back door and screamed out to my husband, who was scouring the yard looking for either the cause or the culprit, that we had to get to the animal hospital right away. We arrived within minutes and our dog was immediately rushed to the back ahead of everyone else who was sitting there. That’s never good. Within a few minutes the tech came out and asked us what had happened. Who had vicously attacked our dog? But we had no answers.
Apparently, based on the wounds, some large dog got into our yard, grabbed Jean-Luc by the neck and throat, was giving him a death shake, but then inexplicably dropped him and escaped without there being even a sound. After being assured that our dog would likely live, but was going to require some extensive surgery, my husband and I rushed home to try to find out answers.
Like a scene from CSI, my husband and I crouched down and began searching our 3/4 acre fenced backyard looking for clues. He took one side and I took the other. Pretty soon I found blood. Lots of blood. And prints in the ground that indicated that a terrific struggle had occurred.
There were a few small puddles of blood and one pretty large one and blood splattered several feet away on some rocks and the side fence. What in the world could have done such a violent thing? And so quickly. Jean-Luc hadn’t been out in the yard more than ten minutes. And how had it gone completely unnoticed? One other clue: A fairly fresh, half-eaten chicken bone sitting pretty as you please on the other side of the fence. Who had put that there? We haven’t had chicken in weeks. It wasn’t ours. Where did it come from and was it somehow involved?
The first and primary suspect was this unlikely creature:
Georgia. Georgia is a gentle 40-pound labrador retriever who has never revealed an agressive tendency, ever, in her life. She was raised around dogs her whole life and is the least dog-aggressive dog I’ve ever known. She was outside with Jean-Luc and followed him into the house. She had blood on the bottom of one of her feet and some superficial blood around her own ruff, but not a drop anywhere near her mouth or face.
The vet told us that Jean-Luc had broken a tooth in the scuffle and that whatever had gotten him had suffered some injury in return. She showed no injury whatsoever. But she was the only one who’d been out in the yard. We decided that in order for her to have been guilty of the crime she would have to be the most psychopathic dog in the world. Gentle and kind in front of everyone, without nary a defensive bone in her body, she lured our little bichon, who she was raised with, out behind an outbuilding, assaulted him within an inch of his life, shook him hard enough to splatter blood several feet, dropped him at the last second, wiped off the evidence from her face, hid her own injuries, and followed him back into the house as if nothing had happened. Obviously we’ve eliminated her as a suspect. She must know the answer; she just can’t tell us.
We called the neighbors, especially the ones who can’t seem to keep their dogs in their own yard, but all of their dogs were accounted for and none of them injured or bloody. In the end we’ve decided it was most likely a coyote making its way through our yard with somebody else’s chicken trash and Jean-Luc interfered. Georgia, hearing the commotion, came upon them and startled the coyote who made a hasty escape over the fence dropping his chicken bone along the way. Or maybe the coyote dropped the chicken bone thinking to come into our yard to get today’s backyard Blue Plate Special: Bichon Surprise but was interrupted by Georgia. We’re just not exactly sure, but either of those scenarios makes the most sense.
The day was long and dreary as we waited to hear from the vet. My sore throat got worse and worse as I spent the day worrying whether he’d live or die or ever be the same again. Finally the vet called and told us that he would most certainly live. His wounds, while many, are mostly superficial and the vet says he’ll heal. Thankfully, whatever attacked him missed his jugular or he’d have bled to death in the yard before we’d even have found him. He spent the night at the animal hospital and came home late this afternoon looking quite the worse for wear. Here are some graphic pictures of his injuries (The thing sticking out is a drain. He has a matching one strategically placed on the other side giving him a decidedly Frankensteinian appearance):
|Something tried to kill me, mom!|
|I think I’ll hide back here, okay?|
|Drains have to stay in until Thursday|
|Jonah, the Defender|