I left you outside while I ran a few errands. The sun was warm, the sky cloudless, with a cool breeze blowing. Perfect conditions for leaving a dog in the backyard, rather than confined to a crate in the house. I’m always apprehensive that you might escape, but the gate is double locked and the fencing secure. I’ve got to learn to trust you and give you as much freedom as suburbia allows. You look content as I back out of the driveway. Sphinx pose, with paws crossed in front of you, fur shining under the backyard sun. You never run to the gate to greet me when I return, although sometimes you look up when you hear the car pull in.
My last errand was grocery shopping. I ran into a friend there, who commented on how tired I looked. “I am,” I said. “I can’t wait to get home and relax for a while.” I didn’t see you in the yard when I returned home. Once I got inside you rocketed up the steps and jumped at the back door to be let in. I was delighted that you were excited to see me, thinking we could chill together in the den a bit before dinner. I quickly opened the backdoor. You burst through the opening and ran excitedly through the house. As I was closing the door, I noticed bright red blood on the boards beside the welcome mat. Before I could determine its source, you had already spread this redness on the hardwood floors and the rug in the den. You were limping. A nail on your left front paw, torn, barely attached, had blood pouring from the wound.
My tiredness disappeared as I went into frantic mom mode. I called the vet. They are open until 7:00 on Friday and were kind enough to see you before closing. I donned your harness and leash, avoiding eye contact with the bloody paw. We get to the car and do our usual accordion dance transfer. I lift your front paws, blood and all, getting it on my hands and sweatshirt, scoop under your belly and lift and push your rear to get you in the car. In my panic, I failed to cover the cargo floor. Now there’s blood there too. I battle Friday rush hour traffic, with your whimpers escalating my tension as we make our way to the vet. We arrive, you gladly jump out of the car, and enter the vet’s office, leaving a trail of blood in your wake. The techs see the blood, take the leash from me, and calmly instruct me to wait in the waiting area, while they take you to triage. I pace and sigh, relieved for the help. I smile at the other dogs and their owners, who may be delayed due to our Friday afternoon emergency. I stroll over to the bulletin board for a distraction, reading all the dog training, grooming and kennel cards. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:
There you are Dwight. My delinquent missing dog. It was from your last escape. HomeAgain forwards the missing dog owner reports to all vet offices within 25 miles of the pet’s home. I remove it from the bulletin board and smile. This hound has been found! I place the clipping in my purse and sit on the wooden bench and wait. Soon I hear your howls. Patrons in the waiting room smile at me. I’m certain you can be heard in The Outback Steakhouse next door. Your song gets sharper, louder. I start to tear up, when suddenly your noise stops. In a few minutes they bring you out.
You look like a daffodil, Dwight. A Blue D’Waffodil. They had to trim the nail back to the fur. We are told it will grow back. You must wear the cone of shame and the blue bandage for three days. We accordion back into the car and head home. You go lay on your bed with a sigh. I clean blood from the floor and carpets. I wonder as I clean, how you ripped the nail. I search outside, but don’t find any clues. I’m guessing you caught in the slight space between the deck boards. My EMT, forensic investigation and clean up complete, I head to the couch. We survived our first emergency D Man. Now let’s get some dinner, my sweet hound.