Earlier this week, I experienced a traumatic moment with my puppers that was like nothing I’ve been through so far as a dog mom.
Most days, Cooper and I meet up with another dog and her mom to play in a large open area near our homes. The two dogs have a similar play style, and they have played almost every day since Cooper was about five months old. They are both very fast. They run hard, and they love to wrestle.
Cooper is about half the size of his friend, but he doesn’t let that slow him down. In his mind, he’s a tough guy, and he’s often the aggressor in their playful wrestling.
On Monday, the two dogs had just finished a high-speed puppy chase around the field, and Cooper was taking a break to sit down. His friend was ready for another run. She came running toward him at full speed and slammed the full weight of her 65-pound body into him. He had been sitting on the side of a hill that dips down into a small ravine.
The impact sent his 35-pound frame tumbling down the hill, and he landed at the top of the hill on the other side.
I felt like I was in a movie where everything is moving in slow motion. I can’t remember seeing him flying down that hill, but I can’t possibly forget the sound that came next. Cooper was screaming — a loud, piercing cry of intense pain that I had not heard before. I ran to comfort him, and he seemed to be convulsing. He grabbed my arm in his mouth and chomped down on it repeatedly.
I was wearing a thick glove that was protecting my hand. The chomping seemed to be helping him endure the pain. So instead of pulling my arm away, I held it there. After what seemed like 10 minutes — but was probably one or two — Cooper went silent and his eyes glazed over.
I realized in the midst of this that I had a moment of complete clarity. It was like every other thought that was normally rushing through my brain stopped. I only cared about one thing.
It was a strange feeling because it made me realize how distracted I am most of the time. It was the day before the election, but in that moment, I couldn’t care less who would be president. I was hosting an outdoor staff meeting lunch at my house the next day, but I wasn’t thinking about the food I needed to buy or the kitchen I needed to clean. I wasn’t preoccupied by family issues or what to make for dinner or the chaos of our world.
The only thing I could think about was what was right in front of me.
It’s actually been a theme for me this entire year.
We’ve lost so much of what we’ve known during the pandemic. I’ve found that I spend a lot of time wishing for the past or longing for the future. I want to connect with old friends. I want to go back to my old church. I miss people from my old job. I want my kids to go back to school. I miss parties and football games and gymnastics meets.
But often, this reminder keeps going through my head: See what’s right in front of you.
I feel like it’s been a message from God to stop working so hard to find some semblance of my old life. Stop wishing for the future when maybe life will be normal again. I need to stop and appreciate the people who cross my path in this crazy, mixed-up world where we now live. I need to care about the people right in front of me.
Just stop and live in the moment I’m in right now.
Well, once Cooper stopped screaming, my friend and I didn’t even need to say anything to express our shared concern that his leg might be broken. I swooped him up and walked as fast as I could across that field. Thankfully, he’s only 35 pounds, but he’s a lot to carry and the walk felt like forever. My arm was already starting to swell from the chomping, but I was determined to get him to the van.
By the time we got to the vet, he still seemed disoriented. He could stand and take steps, but he was favoring one leg. The doctor checked him out and said nothing was broken. We would have to do x-rays or an MRI to determine if more was going on, and she didn’t recommend either.
We took him home, and he flopped down on the floor and barely moved the rest of the night.
Each day since then, he seems to be acting more like his old self. The one thing that hasn’t recovered is his tail. His happy, waving tail that greets everyone and everything has been hanging sadly most of the time the past few days. Once in a while, in a moment of joy, it will make it to horizontal. But we haven’t seen the fluffy flag tail that is his outward, unmistakeable expression of his excitement for life. I’ll probably take him to a different vet if I don’t see some improvement today.
Cooper has been extremely pampered the last few days. We all pet him relentlessly, and get excited to see him run. Instead of getting in trouble for jumping up or being annoying, we celebrate his puppy antics.
As for me, I keep re-living that awful sound of his high-pitched wail. I’ve been focusing more on what really matters and letting go of the other distractions. And I can’t wait for the day I get to see his tail wagging with joy again.