I got a dog with a kink in his tail. His short fur was grey as fog and his eyes insisted that he was not a dog. That there had been some Karmic mistake, and if we’d just hold on for a second, it would all be straighten out. I also got his brother, a beagle, a dog’s dog.
I named the grey dog Wee-hawk and misnamed the beagle Atavar. I meant to name him Avatar but got it wrong. Avatar and Wee-hawk, names from the movie Wizards by Ralph Bakshi.
We lived back up in a hollow where dogs were not let into the house, the yard was big enough. The dogs knew the neighbors. We were a long way from the main roads.
A knock at the door after dark.
A young man at odds with himself – he didn’t know what to do. He hit Wee-hawk and was knocking at doors in the middle of the night to find the owner. This young man who holds a place of honor in my tattered and scared heart to this day. He didn’t have to try to find me, he could have simply driven off and no-one would have blamed him. Yet he embraced his fear and found me.
He lead me to where my dog was shivering and whining in the weeds beside the huge bend in the road, at the bottom of the hill.
Every emotion I have ever felt drained out of me. I became a machine. There was an important task at hand and I had no time for hysterics. The person I am when I’m like that frightens me.
I bent down and pushed on his back and felt the crumpling spine. His pain was screaming in my brain.
Fool that I am I tried to pick him up and he bit me along the lower ribs on my left side. I held him in my own pain until I could stand it no longer and I dropped him with a soul deadening thud. He yelped.
Still mechanical, I took my jacket off and made a net to to bundle him so as to protect myself. The young man helped me.
I put Wee-hawk on the floor, in front of the passenger seat of my car. My wife restrained the other dog and called the vet.
The vet met me at the door of his clinic, a small addition on the side of his house. We carried my poor dog to the table and he looped a belt around Wee-hawk’s muzzle to keep him from biting us. With ice-water in my blood I asked that we end my dog’s suffering. I touched behind his ear the way he liked it.
The vet nodded and went to the cabinet and came back with a syringe and an ampule. He said something about the nature of this drug, said kids were shooting up on it. I couldn’t understand why he would tell me such a thing but in retrospect perhaps he was telling me it was a pleasant way to let the beast pass.
I held Wee-hawks shivering head down as the vet shoved the needle into my dog’s heart. I released the restraint and told my dog that I was so sorry. The vet asked me what I was doing, the dog was in pain and he might bite me. I showed him my wound. He said “Shit, we’ll have to test for rabies. You go to the hospital right now, tonight.”
I didn’t argue. Machine’s do what must be done.
I spent a few hours waiting at the emergency room. They cleaned and bandaged the wound but no sutures were required. They asked if the dog could be tested and I told them that the vet was taking care of it.
Somewhere in the night my soul found me and I cried all that I could.
Later the next day they examined Wee-hawk and found no indications of rabies or any other thing of concern.
I wrote the checks for all concerned parties and mailed them at the end of the week.