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Monday, March 28, 2011

When bad things happen to good people and dogs

Any parent of teens knows how tough parenting big kids is and how hard it is to see progress. I think it's a lot like watching grass grow...you know growth does happen but it can be pretty invisible on a daily basis. There are times when I think I'm spitting in the wind as I try to instill a sense of responsibility, and empathy in our kids. There are days when I despair of my kids ever learning to be kind to each other, to work as a team, to put aside their petty jealousies and stop competing with each other. There are times when I wonder if it's even possible for our kids who came to us at different ages and in different ways to bond as a family...but every once on a while, something amazing happens that reassures me. Yesterday was one of those times.

It happened in the blink of an eye, like most terrible things do. One minute, I was bringing our two greyhounds out of our yard, crossing our driveway with the dogs by my side as we've done several times a day ever since we moved to this house last fall. I stopped to pick up a muffin wrapper one of my kids had dropped (I was grumbling to myself about those darn messy kids!)...and it must have startled our scaredy-boy dog. He took off running down the driveway and into the road, then headed up the next street. I reached the end of the driveway just in time to see him round the corner, running full-speed toward one the busiest roads in our neighborhood. I ran after him, faster than I've run in years, calling his name...but I knew I'd never catch him in time. I realized that I wasn't alone...my husband and kids were all running, too, calling our dog, trying to head him off before he reached the busy road. 

As I ran, I could see the cars streaming towards us and I could see our greyhound run into traffic, too far from me to do anything but scream his name again. I knew I was too late. In that awful instant, it flashed through my mind that my kids would all be there to see our dog hit by a car...and I couldn't stop any of it. Time slowed down, inching toward the inexorable conclusion that left me feeling powerless and sick at heart.

Then again, it all changed in the blink of an eye. My oldest son flew in front of me, running almost as fast as the dog at that point. He hurtled into the street, hand in the air, calling to the driver of the closest car to stop...and luckily, the driver did. Our dog made it safely to the other side of the road and so did Madiyar. Fletch was tired and scared by this time and so he let Madiyar take his collar. By this time, our whole family was running across the road in blatant disregard of our town's jaywalking ordinance. (OK, I'll admit, I was the first one in the street so I didn't set the safest example for the others.) Once we reached our wayward pup and determined that both dog and boy were fine, we started our trek home in a tight little band, hearts still pounding. (My dear husband, ever the cool-headed one, insisted we all use the crosswalk on our return.) The kids took turns petting and fussing over the dog who by this time was walking glued to my leg, shaking like a leaf...or maybe that was me doing the shaking. Tanya kept saying, "I thought he got hit, Mom. I was so scared! I thought he was dead!"  I couldn't have said it better myself...

It wasn't until we got home that I realized I still had that darn muffin wrapper clutched tight in my hand, a reminder that while they are messy, my kids can work together when it counts. Today we were lucky in more ways than one. Our dog is fine, our kids didn't witness a tragedy to add to their therapy/trauma issues, and I've gotten a glimpse of the seeds we've planted growing.

When he's not running, he's a real couch potato...of course, I'm talking about the dog.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to add this postscript:

Ever mindful of our new carpet, I'm always nagging the kids to take off their dirty shoes and leave them on a rack in our mudroom. They've all complied pretty well...except for Madiyar. He couldn't resist pointing out that he was able to run fast because he had his shoes on in the house when he heard me yelling for the dog. I couldn't resist hugging him and telling him I wasn't going to argue his logic. My boy isn't just fast, he's fresh, too...and he has a very big heart.

1 comment:

farmbeachgal said...

You had my heart in my throat for a minute there, Dee. Thank God it all turned out OK....