A friend’s dog died yesterday in a fluke accident. Two of her dogs were playing. One caught its jaw in the other’s collar. Both panicked and fought, bloodying the house in their struggle. The one with the caught collar strangled. My friend furrydoc rushed to the scene but was too late to help.
The dogs belonged to the woman who took these photos. She gives her heart, soul, and considerable talent to animals.
Worse, the dog that died was the special buddy of her sweet, forlorn adolescent son and had been the boy’s mainstay during dark days. Worse and worse, he was the only one home (aside from a non compos mentis elder) when it happened.
Death-by-collar is a fluke. But it happened to furrydoc’s brother’s dog, too. And came close to happening to my heart-dog Jasmine years ago.
My pack was in the yard when I heard the most horrible noises — sounds that still haunt my dreams. A big dog named Champagne (briefly in my pack before having to be put down for fear aggression toward both dogs and humans) had gotten her jaw trapped under Jasmine’s collar. They were at the top of a slope. In their panic, they rolled together down the slope, twisting the collar around Jasmine’s neck. The sounds I still hear were Jasmine strangling.
Fortunately, I was able to get outside and down the hill quickly enough. Fortunately — and amazingly when I think back on it — I was able to release Jazz’s collar in time. I don’t even remember whether I reached into their biting, struggling chaos or whether they actually had the presence of mind to calm down for a few seconds to let me in. I just remember my relief. And shaking. And those strangled cries.
I can’t imagine what 14-year-old S. had to deal with yesterday, being unable to get his dogs apart.
I also lost a dog when I was an adolescent. I didn’t watch it die. Maybe it even lived, though the odds weren’t good.
I was a miserable, misfit, depressed middle schooler. But I had Pepper who, like Jasmine after him (and like no other dogs I’ve ever had) was a super empath. When I was in pain, I would climb into Pepper’s dog house through its opening roof panel and cry my eyes out while Pepper comforted me.
But he was a young energetic boy who’d get into trouble while I was in school. One day I found my mother waiting in the car when I got out of my last class. That was unusual; I normally walked home. When I got in the car, she told me that Pepper had pulled sheets off the clothesline so my father had taken him to the pound.
My father didn’t like dogs. Or children, particularly. He was a mean SOB who thought that the way to earn love was to isolate us and alienate us from the rest of the world so we couldn’t love anybody but him. He did a lot of rotten things and all his children and his wife eventually despised him. But the one big central thing I’ll never forgive him for was taking Pepper away.
I was not a good “mom” to Pepper. Far from it. A troubled kid, I sometimes treated him like adults treated me — something I’m ashamed of to this day. But he was my lifeline.
Pets came and went in our family — as they did in a lot of families back then, I suppose. They were there for weeks or months, then gone.
I had only two that were deeply bonded to me and I to them. Both dogs. Both “went away” in strange ways through my parents’ will. I can’t even write about the other one, Skipper. My brother also had one dog who was especially bonded to him. My mother “disappeared” that one and lied about what she’d done. That dog’s fate remains a huge question mark.
But mostly we learned not to bond, not to care. If I’m capable of love at all now, it’s because I eventually learned the art from the dogs to whom I owe such a huge karmic debt. When people praise me for helping in rescue work, I cringe inside. All I’m doing is trying to repay a debt that can never, ever actually be cleared.
ADDED: Seems a good time to post this, a recent happy gift from K: