This morning Facebook reminded me of something that I’d rather forget. One of those ‘remember when’ posts from four years ago popped onto my screen of a picture of my dog Lucy.
I adore Lucy. We adopted her as an adult and she immediately became my shadow. Before we got a second dog (the adorable Desi), I took her everywhere with me, including in the Jeep we had at the time, pictured above with its detachable doors securely on. But seeing this picture makes me think of the gorgeous Spring day when the doors and top were off, the day that Lucy jumped in the back and I for some reason thought it would be a good idea to have my twelve-year old daughter hold on to the other end of her leash from the front seat.
Why I am telling this story? A story where I am not proud of my decisions and how this particular ride unfolds? Well, I want to practice. My memoir is coming out in a few months and readers will be privy to many more intimate moments from my young life. Consider it the practice of putting myself out there.
As I slowed down for a stop light, one block away from the dog groomers where we were headed, Emma screamed and I felt a terrible thump behind my back left tire. Had Lucy fallen? Or jumped out after a squirrel or something? Please tell me that noise wasn’t her; I thought I might puke as I put the Jeep in park. Cars in all directions stopped at the busy intersection as I jumped down from the Jeep and ran to Lucy. I couldn’t believe how far away from the car she was. She looked up at me, some blood on the concrete – coming from where, I had no idea. She tried to pull herself up but failed. I sat down in the middle of the road, unsure what to do, as my daughter joined me.
We huddled around Lucy and when I glanced up, I saw strangers approaching with creased brows and judgement smeared all over their faces. They looked at my doorless Jeep and back at my injured Lucy. Maybe they snickered at each other or maybe I imagined it. I wanted to both scream at them to go away and cry that I didn’t mean to do it. I did neither. I didn’t cry until my daughter told me that she was sorry she had let go of the leash. Can you imagine? She thought it was her fault.
A man came up and asked if he could help and when I nodded yes, my hero lifted Lucy gently up into the back of my Jeep and told me, “These dogs are tougher than you think.” And Lucy was ok, just some stitches but no broken bones. When I think about it now, instead of beating myself up about what a reckless moron I was, I try to remember the kindness of strangers. I remember the unconditional love of animals. I remember the mercy extended that prevents me from getting what I so clearly deserve. I remember that in sharing our stuff we feel more connected.
So maybe someday I’ll tell you the story of how I considered using dog food as a reward in potty training my daughter.