What Could Have Happened

Last week I was at Mom’s house, where I’ve been going once a week now since Dad died.  Of course I take Little Dog with me.

I mean, what person in their right mind would/could leave this little guy behind?

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He loves to visit her.  He loves her backyard.  I’ve not worried one bit about him while there.  And then?  Last week something happened and I’m still not over it.  It shook me up to the point I just wish I could erase the memory because all I can seem to do is replay over and over what could have happened.

Avent Ferry Road is where my father, his father, and his father’s father lived, all of their lives.  My dad told me when he was growing up, it was a dirt road, and at some point, it was paved and became two lanes.  When I was about twelve, the City of Raleigh came through with a widening project, and under that rule of “eminent domain,” they took over half of the front yard.   The road went from two lanes to five.  During the project they piled up truck load after truck load of dirt, to the point that by the end, the driveway was at a ridiculous angle, and had become this short steep hill alongside the house.  If you aren’t familiar with pulling in, you’d just as soon pass it by rather than drop in for a visit.

Back to last week.  Mom and I were in the front yard.  Little Dog, who’s been there many times, was with us.  He’s been taught not to go up the three small steps which lead to the steep driveway and to the five lanes of cars whizzing by on their way to NC State Centennial Campus, or whereever it is they go.  I was trying to dig a hole to plant a small bush.

The dirt was like cement due to lack of rain and Mom said, “Let me go get you the pick axe.”

I kept chipping away at the soil, realizing it was pretty useless with the shovel, and thinking I doubt I’m getting this bush planted. Mom came back and I started swinging the pick axe (determined you could say) and finally, after a few minutes of useless chopping at red CLAY, I gave up.

Then, I spotted some poison ivy growing on that ridiculously slanted embankment, and Mom said, “Let me get a plastic bag to put it in and some gloves you can wear before you pull it up.”

She came back, snapped the bag open and I pulled on the gloves and began cramming the poison ivy into the bag.  I realize now when I think back on the work, I’d not thought of Mister. I realize I didn’t keep an eye on him.  I know now, that something spooked him in the time she went to get the bag and came back.

I was bent over pulling at weeds, and she said, “Uh oh.  Donna.  Mister’s in the driveway.”

I looked up and sure enough.  He was standing halfway up it, staring at me.  Do you know how hard it is to control emotions, to keep panic out of your voice, to think clearly when the potential for disaster is so, so close.  TOO close.

I did the wrong thing in that split second.

Alarmed, I raised my voice, “Mister!  No!”

I went up the three steps in split seconds, but Mister, sensing some other “thing” in my voice, bolted.  Up the rest of the drive.  Right to the edge of the highway.  My focus became warped as I saw the backdrop of speeding cars, his hair blowing from their passing, and all I felt was absolute gut wrenching panic.

Frantic, my voice high pitched, I yelled at him again – another mistake, “Mister!  Mister!  No!  Come here!”

Cars didn’t bother slowing down.  He’s less than 4 lbs.  Who would see him?  He cut left and ran down the sidewalk.  Parallel to the road.  I waved my arms at traffic, hoping I could get them to stop, hoping they’d see the fear on my face, hoping they’d see this little dog running for dear life.

I couldn’t seem to control myself, “No!  MISTER!  MISTER!  OH GOD!”

I needed them to STOP.  Instead.  I did the hardest thing there is to do.  I stopped myself from running after him.  I realized it was his only chance.  If I kept running after him, he’d possibly dart right into an oncoming car.

I crouched down on the sidewalk.  He was still running away from his human, the one who’d lost her mind, the one who was no longer the person he knew and trusted.

I pleaded with him,  “Ohhh, that’s a good boy.  Yes, he’s a good boy.  Good boy.”

I see this moment as clearly as if it were happening now.  He immediately turned, and ran towards me, towards my outstretched arms, my fingers splayed like I have them when I want to pick him up.

And I got him.  And I cried – all the way down that stupid sidewalk, and down that ridiculously steep driveway, and into the rock hard dirt filled yard where Mom stood frozen.

I had him.  He was okay.  Still frightened, but it was like he knew I was too, because all he did was lick my tears.

I love this little dog.  And I can’t stop thinking about it.

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Mister, a.k.a. The Bundle, on Mom’s back porch.


COMMENTS

  • Carolynnwith2Ns

    June 6, 2015

    Reply

    Oh Donna. To be so scared for someone so little that you love so much. I was on pins and needles. Thank God he’s okay.

    • donnaeve

      June 6, 2015

      Reply

      Good God. As I wrote this my heart rate increased, and I got all teary eyed again. I could see him meeting his end on Avent Ferry Road, the same road another dog of mine was hit on. That dog lived, but it broke his pelvic bone. It was like living a NIGHTMARE. Since I’ve had him, (almost three years now, he’ll be six in November) I’ve thought about that driveway many times, but I suppose I became complacent. He’s never done this, so I trusted him – like he trusts me.

      What a FREAKING scare.

  • Diane

    June 6, 2015

    Reply

    I thank G-d from time to time for the what-ifs that have not come to be. Give a scritch to your baby from me, and a sniff and maybe a run around the yard from Penelope.

    Cutest little thing. 🙂

    • donnaeve

      June 7, 2015

      Reply

      I did all those things times one hundred. He’s feeling very loved. I will do them all over again today. I find myself looking down at him, when he’s sitting beside me, and imagining that “what if,” just like you. I’ll eventually quit thinking like that, but have mercy! What a close call.

  • Averil Dean

    June 7, 2015

    Reply

    What an awful, helpless moment. I’m so glad the little guy’s okay.

    xo

    • donnaeve

      June 7, 2015

      Reply

      That’s exactly how I felt. HELPLESS. I’d considered the driveway many times over, and I know my Mom had mentioned it too, back when I first got him. I’d taken “the girls” over there all the time – and my Mom even dog sat for me over the years. They never went up it. They were trained not to, like I thought Little Dog was. Unfortunately, he came with some emotional baggage, a bolting behavior from an experience in some other place, at some other time.

      All I can do is try not to PANIC, but mainly hope nothing like that happens again.

  • Jen Donohue

    June 7, 2015

    Reply

    Oh God, how terrifying. And the exact kind of moment with our dogs where we have only a few choices to make VERY QUICKLY and hope hope hope it’s the right one. I’m really really glad this turned out well for you and Mister. Because I find people driving DON’T typically care, or slow down, whether it’s people or dogs on the edge of the road.

    • donnaeve

      June 7, 2015

      Reply

      You’re so right Jen. I can’t begin to dissect my panicked thoughts, but somewhere in the terror of seeing him so close to that highway, I forced myself to stop running after him when every single part of my brain compelled me to chase him down. And when I squatted down, all I could do was hope. Like you said.

      And I don’t know why people are like that. My other dog – who was hit on that same road, and injured badly wouldn’t have made it had I not run into the traffic to get him. I was twelve. No one stopped. No one cared. There I stood, my dog yelping in pain, losing his bowels all over my skirt, and not one person even slowed down to let me cross the street safely.

      Same way the other day. Unreal.

  • Teri

    June 7, 2015

    Reply

    I’m so glad Mister is okay! And that you’re all okay — what a terrifying and helpless experience.

    When I got my last puppy 4 years ago, the trainer told me to sound panicked when I say the word “come!” because that’s how I’m naturally going to sound when I’m calling her away from danger. As weird as it felt to train that way, she was exactly right.

    That said, I swear if I really need to get the dog to come I should yell “Treat!” or “Dinner!”

    Here’s to your little Mister.

    • Carolynnwith2Ns

      June 7, 2015

      Reply

      Teri, that’s exactly what I do.
      I yell “Cookie” and the little guy we have on loan (my daughter’s dog which is really ours), comes-a-running. “Cookie worked for our big boy Harley too. I mean really, if someone yelled “ice cream” at me I be by their side in an instant.

      • donnaeve

        June 7, 2015

        Reply

        LOL! Hm, what does someone need to yell for me to be at their side….oh! I know! POUND CAKE!

        Is that weird or what.

        But to your point, see my response to Teri below. That also worked for “the girls,” and I honestly can’t say if it would for him. I was so FREAKED OUT I couldn’t think straight…but maybe it would have.

    • donnaeve

      June 7, 2015

      Reply

      Shit, me too. This happened last Monday, almost a week ago and I still get shaky when I think about it.

      And, get this. With “the girls?” That’s EXACTLY what I did, and what I told my mother to do – especially with Kiwi, because Kiwi was notorious for getting herself into “predicaments.” I would holler TREAT or CHICKEN!!! when I wanted them to come.

      Mister is cut from a different cloth. In a comment above, I mention he has some emotional baggage. I don’t know what happened to him in that three years before we had him, but we’re pretty sure he was abused. AND, the “come here!” command with him? Some idget trained him so he stops, and lets himself be picked up. I.e. come here! is the equivalent of stay! So, of course me yelling that was more about getting him to stop. Which was an epic failure in this case.

      Here’s to Mister for sure, and I’ll have several glasses of wine with that. 🙂

  • Yikes! I read this with my heart in my throat. So glad Mister is okay! He’s a real cutie. 🙂

    • donnaeve

      June 8, 2015

      Reply

      Phew! Me and you both Madeline. My heart was in my throat. But – he’s all good and as demanding as EVER. 🙂

  • Jennine G.

    June 8, 2015

    Reply

    Oh my gosh! I could picture this exactly! My little dog has done the same thing, coming dangerously close to the road. So glad he’s safe!

    • donnaeve

      June 9, 2015

      Reply

      I told my husband this was the VERY last thing I expected to happen at Mom’s b/c I’m so protective of the little guy, you know? Stuff happens, and we can’t prevent it all, but something like this is a REAL eye opener. It’s “training” for me too. I.e. DON’T FREAK OUT AND SCARE HIM MORE. Phew!

  • Ginger

    June 9, 2015

    Reply

    So glad he (and you!!) got through this – I know the panic and I admit I had blurred vision by the end of this Donna! I have used Cookies, IceCream, Cheese – pretty much all the ‘standards’ in the 11.5 years we’ve had Bud, now I just use ‘Want sum?” and he’s by my side in a flash!

    • donnaeve

      June 10, 2015

      Reply

      When he ran UP the driveway, instead of down it – to the backyard he’s been in countless times – it was like watching everything in slow motion, but my mind was racing ahead to a pretty bad place. I don’t know what made him turn left and keep on the sidewalk but THANK GOD he did!

      I love that “want sum?” 🙂


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