Letting go of the garden…for the love of a dog

Sometimes things happen in life that I just don’t understand.  I’m the type of person who tries to figure out how everyday things fit into the big picture.  Often if it’s not obvious at first, given time, things begin to make sense to me.  This weekend, something happened that still doesn’t.

While working in the garden on Sunday, the gate to our backyard was either inadvertently left open or didn’t latch and our dog got out without anyone realizing.  This wasn’t the first time.  Usually when she “escapes” she heads down the block to play with other dogs in the neighborhood.  Sunday, for some reason, she did not.

At one point, I glanced up from gardening and couldn’t see her. I didn’t think much of it because I’d seen her just a couple of minutes before and there are many little corners that she normally goes to in the yard to torment chipmunks, search for bunnies or just bask in the sun.  A few minutes later, as I sat on the back steps to take a break and cool off, she came around the corner of the house and sat by my feet as she often does.

I had just started to pet her when my husband came around the corner where she had come from and said a car had just stopped to tell him that our dog had just been hit by a car.  The side of our house is on a busy street.  Apparently when she got out she headed up the street and was by the nearby gas station when she got hit.  It didn’t seem possible.  At first we questioned whether they had the right dog.  That’s when I noticed the deep cuts on her back leg which she simultaneously started licking.   My heart sunk, tears started running down my face.  I was sick to my stomach.  The thought of something like this happening to her without even knowing she was gone had every emotion welling inside me.

Thankfully the car that hit her had not driven over her with their tires, but had “bumped” her. The speed limit on this road is 35 mph but people often speed so we have no idea how badly she’d been hit. Thankfully she could still walk.  Thankfully she headed back home and thankfully the people who witnessed this followed her home so they could tell us what had happened.

Grateful as we were that it wasn’t worse, a small dog is no competition for a car.  After an hour or so of observing her at home, we decided to taker her to the ER Vet. In addition to her cuts, she had swelling in her belly and started bruising pretty badly.  After a lengthy exam and a number of x-rays they decided to keep her overnight to observe her.  Even after x-rays and an ultrasound, they weren’t confident that she didn’t have internal injuries.  This was heart wrenching news.  Having lost our previous dog to cancer just 2 short years ago, all the emotions came bubbling back up and I was incredibly fearful that I was going to lose “my little girl”.

We adopted this little rescue dog just a month or two before my fever and fatigue started in 2009.  From the beginning, she has always been by my side.  Wherever I was, she was.  She wouldn’t get up in the morning until I got up no regardless as to how hard anyone tried to convince her.  If I went to lay down, she would follow me and snuggle with me no matter how long I slept.  Having finally gotten my energy back a couple of weeks ago, I promised her we’d get out walking every day.  As I laid in bed Sunday night, trying to go to sleep, I was fearing the few walks we’ve gotten under our belt would be the end.  I was a mess.

Thankfully, the morning of July 4th the ER Vet called with good news.  Her breathing remained clear overnight, the swelling in her belly/abdomen hadn’t gotten any worse and they’d sent her x-rays and ultrasounds out to radiologists and had a surgeon look at her.  Everyone was comfortable letting her come home.  I was elated! Tears welled in my eyes while I filled with relief.  I couldn’t get to her soon enough.

So, my “little girl” is home.  She’s moving slowly and on some pretty hefty pain meds, but she’s on the road to recovery.

As I sit here typing on my laptop, with her by my side, questions are running through my mind.  Why did she go that way?  Why didn’t I check to make sure she was in the yard?  Why did this happen?

Was it a big fat sign that I need to get the latch on the gate fixed? (That seems like a pretty strong message, doesn’t it?)

Is it to teach me to not get so frustrated when she plows through my flowers to chase the chipmunks?  To remind me that perennials will come back, but there’s only one of her?

Was it to remind me just how precious life is, in any form and not to take it for granted?

Perhaps.  Perhaps all of these, or perhaps I’m way off base.

What I can say is that as much as I love all forms of gardening, I let a lot go this weekend.  The planting, the weeding, the watering… I let it all go…  All for the love of a dog.


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