In doing some afternoon organizing and cleaning here at home, I came across something I wrote a couple Thanksgiving’s ago. It moved me and I thought I would share it, as I hope it touches your heart too. The whole experience meant a lot at the time and now as I look back, I can see that it was an important happening in my daughter’s life and mine, despite the pain involved, so without further adieu:
This is a tale that I held off sharing until now because it’s a sad story and one that might have been a downer, tarnishing the perfection of the Thanksgiving Day spirit within each one of us. I tell it now to try to make some sense of what occurred within myself, if nothing else. There are things that puzzle me, that I’ll never know the reason for, that simply have no purpose, and perhaps this is one of those or perhaps not.
It was late on Thanksgiving Day Eve, nearly midnight, and my child and I were settled in for a relaxing night of movies and hot soup, as neither of us were feeling well at all. We were both carrying around an individual size box of Puffs for the incessant sneezing and sniffling going on, so we needed to rest.
The dogs around the neighborhood began to bark quite loudly, which isn’t particularly out of the ordinary so I didn’t notice, but my child did. She went outside and within a few minutes had run back shouting, a note of urgency gripping my heart like a vice.
“Mom, hurry! A dog’s been hit outside on the street, in front of our house. Mom, it’s still alive!”
My feet moved and my hands began to shake, hurriedly shoving myself into sweat pants and trying to find my shoes, desperately trying to think where I had left the flashlight. I stabbed my feet into my boots, grabbing the light off of the refrigerator and hurrying as fast as I could toward the kitchen door, my mind racing, my throat dry at what awaited me outside.
I remember murmuring something to my eleven year old daughter, while I was getting into my clothes, before she darted back outside again. It was something to the effect of, “We’ll have to move it, we’ll have to get it out of the road.” I was thinking out loud, but terror-filled at what I was going to find in its “still-alive” state. There was reason for my fear. As I ran down the drive way and came out toward the street, I saw my child scampering toward me with the medium-sized animal in her arms, quite literally hauling it quickly from the center of the normally busy road, to the shoulder. She laid him down gently, out of breath and tired, adrenaline obviously giving her strength, as he was half the length of her.
We both studied him then. His eyes were open and he was quiet, his injuries severe. The only way I could tell he was still alive was the in and out of his labored breathing. My mind was preoccupied with how to move him again, closer to the house, away from the street while I tried to get him into the car and figure the closest route to an emergency vet at that hour, not even knowing if there would be one open on the eve of Thanksgiving Day, at midnight.
“I don’t think we better try to move him again just yet. He may bite. He could have bitten you, you know..” I said this softly, grimly even. I could see that this dog was seriously hurt and I really wasn’t sure there was much to be done, if anything at all. I asked my little girl to go get a blanket and was contemplating a way to move the dog onto the blanket so that we could get it to a vet as quickly as possible.
She acquiesced and came back with an extra-large beach towel, which we attempted to slide under the pup as gently as we could. The pup appeared to want to get up and he struggled up half way but was unsuccessful, falling back partly onto the towel as we watched; both of us uncertain of what to do next.
We didn’t have to make that decision as these were the last movements the dog made and within a moment or two later, he was gone, breathing stopped. We carried him to the back of the property then, laying him down and wrapping him gently up to his neck with the enormous beach towel. It was the middle of the night. We decided to handle the next part in the daylight hours.
The next day, we got our shovels and picked out a spot under a giant, gnarly oak with finger-like limbs sprawling across the sky, near the turtle pond, where the sounds of the waterfall sing out day and night. It was a little chilly and the digging wasn’t easy but we managed a decent-sized hole of sufficient depth and width. Breathing hard, we carried the pup towel and all, lowering him into the hole we’d dug, both of us shaking our heads in silence.
He had been a young dog with a sweet face. He would have been the kind of dog that smiled a lot, that was happy. We held a little service for him and both of us prayed, asking God to take care of him now. I remember that I prayed out loud, saying that he was a “part of God” and thus his name was Pog now, and my child asked God to bless and keep Pog safe and happy, kneeling there.
My daughter’s unspeakable bravery in scooping Pog up from the middle of the road and carrying him, recklessly unaware or uncaring of her own safety and of whether Pog would bite in his agony, stand out in my mind; this has given me new respect for her and for the stuff she is made of. Her sheer courage just amazes me.
We didn’t have Pog for very long. He came to us on Thanksgiving Day Eve. We were only there to watch his passing, but I feel his soul here among us nevertheless, roaming free — now out of pain, tongue lolling out of his mouth, bouncing steps, tail wagging.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll see him again in spirit, when I least expect, as I’m taking in the view of the stars at night, when I’m outside by myself. And I have to think why did this happen, and why us? Why here?
We had Pog for a very short time but we loved him well in those minutes he lay dying and those moments after he passed. I got to see a side of my daughter that I never knew before, that I am in awe of. I saw grit, determination, and unselfishness and something I thank God for, that I believe will see her through the rest of her life, no matter what may come her way.