Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dog Down

It happened as I was walking down the driveway toward the back of the house looking for our housemate to see if she would like to come out and see the lunar eclipse we had been emailing about. It was about 10:30, the night was reasonably cloudless, and the earth’s shadow was well across the moon’s surface.

And, then, there was the high-pitched cry of the dog being hit and the screech of tires and the shouts of neighbors out on the street for the moon. Teenaged boys came running from our house and a neighbor’s doorway. Adults are already encircling the dog (my dog, our dog) lying frantically in the street. “No! No! No!”

We lifted him by blanket into the back of our wagon. The gurney came out to meet us at the curb. Multiple fractures. One leg a mass of shattered bone ... another more modestly useless ... blood ... one deep gash ... other multiple abrasions also filled with crumbled asphalt and road dirt. Beautiful x-rays. Ugly messages. We went home to lick our heart wounds. Cooper remained with the tubes stuck in him and the kindly vet monitoring his breathing and heart rate; vigilant for signs of internal bleeding.

Now we wait for the surgeon’s call. Now we field the phone calls of empathy and advice we have solicited; the knocks at our door; the cards in our mail box. The remorseful concern of our neighbor who drove the car that brought our Cooper down — the single car that passed unhappily through the dark theater of our night.

How are we going to care for our buddy who, no matter what the outcome, will not walk on his own for weeks, for months? Both his injured legs are on the right side. Will he be able to even stand while his body works to heal? There are thirteen steps up to our doorway from the street. We don’t know if he will even have half of that shattered rear leg when at last he comes home to us.

As we drove home, the moon was nearly out of its once-in-a-decade eclipse. Our sun’s light glowed from its surface. The two planets and a star still accompanied it through the night sky. We turned inward — each to his or her source of strength and compassion. Now, for another night, we wait while Cooper’s bruised lungs recover their capacity before the anesthesia comes. Now, he waits, alone, with his blanket, where our love cannot warm him.

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