Friday, December 16, 2005

Drama and Trauma

Hi everyone,

I’m sorry to be out of touch for so long. It was an eventful few weeks after the last report and I wish I could say all was well but it was drama in spades. Fortunately Wyatt and I came out the other end with only a few psychic and physical scratches and hopefully a little wisdom.

First, a friend noted that mass emails are so 1999, so you can now get your fill of Wyatt at this new blog (where this and past reports are posted):


The drama began at the dog park, Wyatt’s personal Disneyland and rare refuge from his leash. Wyatt was milling about, soaking in the musky dogginess and his lofty status...


...when a friendly border collie approached. I was calmly watching from five feet away when this tail-wagging collie pounced fangs-first out of nowhere onto Wyatt. The two grappled for a few seconds in what seemed like harmless roughhousing until Wyatt was pinned to the ground and yelped in pain. I ran to find blood dripping from a one-inch cut below Wyatt’s right eye and another under his throat.

The other owners and I decided the cuts weren’t serious and the collie’s owner apologized profusely (and guessed the collie attacked to protect a smaller nearby dog), but the incident raised two kinds of stress.

The first is another common parental anxiety: the world is a dangerous place. The immediate impact was a suspension of dog park visits and a lot of Neosporin swabs, which Wyatt would frustratingly either evade or try to eat. The deeper impact was the reality that danger lurked everywhere every time I took out my intensely curious puppy. Unlike the straws and bars of soap that I can predictably place out of harm’s way at home, I can’t control the dogs, cars, and poisonous plants of the world. Worse, the more I try, the more anxious I get and restricted Wyatt feels. I’m like a Jewish mother that hasn’t figured out the right balance of freedom and safety.


The second impact was more philosophical. The attack left a small but clear gash on Wyatt’s adorable face. He still got supermodel treatment from strangers but I knew the difference and felt bothered at the prospect of an unsightly scar… and then bothered about feeling bothered.

I’m attached to the squishy, Buddhist ideal that beauty is superficial and compassion should be doled unconditionally, even though I fail this ideal so ridiculously often that I should get lumps of coal every Christmas. I know we’re all genetically and socially biased toward attractiveness; it’s a main reason I chose the Siberian breed. So of course, fate throws a curveball and I’m forced to confront how much beauty really matters. It threw another when I moved into a house with a terrier named Boston who is just as friendly, affectionate, and certainly more obedient than Wyatt, but I think most would agree is not quite as cuddly…

I feel a slight heartache every time someone adores Wyatt and ignores Boston, especially when that someone is me.

Since this report is going to be a short novel and you’re probably on a bathroom break by now, I’ll cut to the bottom line – yes, Wyatt’s looks are a source of unearned affection and pride; yes, I feel this reinforces the unfairness of life’s genetic lottery; no, I don’t know how to resolve this. For the moment, I am content to table this conflict and simply be grateful that the scar is gone and that I enjoy making Wyatt happy as much as ever.


A week after the attack, I noticed that Wyatt was eating less frequently and had lost interest in previously irresistible treats. I thought this might be due to the irresponsibly large amount of human food I spoil him with – he gets a nibble of almost every meal and has become my pre-rinse dishwasher (a nice little perk of dog ownership). But Wyatt had been eating a lot of grass, which apparently dogs do to settle an upset stomach, and I soon learned why. During a walk, Wyatt strangely stopped in a crosswalk and strained to poop in the middle of a street. As I looked closer, I was horrified to find a live worm squirming through the mess. (I took a picture for the vet but out of decency I’ll spare you poopworm.jpg.)

The vet said Wyatt was infected with roundworms and easily treated with a dewormer, but now my parental anxiety extended from the outside world and inside my home to the very insides of my dog. I had been lax in letting Wyatt eat random foods and plants on the street, but now I had to limit his intake to certifiable food; another rule to enforce. How do parents sleep at night? I found myself wondering one night if there was some SIDS equivalent for dogs where my perfectly sheltered puppy just wouldn’t wake up one morning.


I decided my wounded, infested, bulimic dog and I had a rough week and deserved a treat, so we walked to the Cheesecake Factory and I bought myself a plate of pasta and Wyatt an entrée of pork chops and spinach (clearly a parental indulgence). Wyatt surprisingly delayed gratification, going for the spinach first and only then the succulent pork chops.


One night, I decided to run a scientifically-valid experiment to determine Wyatt’s favorite bone. I bought three flavors of organic N-bones, a strand of rawhide, and a bully stick (which I later learned is made from the hanging parts of a bull), then spread them out for a deliriously excited Wyatt to taste test. The bone completely devoured first would be crowned the winner.



Wyatt expectedly indulged like a kid on Halloween night, gorging all day to the point that he would exhaustedly collapse, only to keep gnawing a bone with his head laying sideways on the ground. After hours of chewing, the chicken-flavored N-Bone narrowly edged the bully stick as Wyatt’s winner (and I needed a dumptruck that night to clean up the inevitable aftermath).


This is where I expected this Wyatt Report to end - a little drama, a little joy, a few morals, and a happy ending. The following day, I woke up and passed my roommate:

“Have you seen Wyatt?” he asked.

“This morning?... no, I let him sleep outside last night.”

“Oh… I don’t see him in the backyard.”

My blood pressure rose immediately and after I thoroughly inspected our yard, I had learned that my Siberian, born of the breed that a dozen owners had warned me have a strong escape instinct, was gone.


I can not convey the sense of loss I felt; it was more intense than any I can remember. Wyatt was not just the most playful, beautiful, and curious dog I had known; he was mine, the first living mine of importance. Only two months had passed but I had already bonded to him and considered him family. Those of you with close pets probably understand, those of you without probably don’t. I wouldn’t have two months ago.

My overactive imagination raced with terrible possibilities: Wyatt smashed by a car, Wyatt drowned in a canal, Wyatt eaten by wolves, all of them my fault. I had already seen Wyatt dig under our fence the first day I moved in, producing this perfect image of Siberian wiliness:


Wyatt had spent several days in the yard without escaping but now he had somehow done it.

I didn’t realize at the time that I was cycling through the textbook stages of grief and loss, acronymed DABDA. First, denial: I couldn’t believe Wyatt had escaped after all the measures I took. He must be hiding nearby somewhere. This is just karmic payback for the time I was three and thought it would be hilarious to hide from my mother for an hour under a clothes rack in a mall. (Mom, I understand now and I’m really sorry.)

After half an hour of checking and re-checking the house, I hit stage 2: anger. What the hell is wrong with that dog?! After all the love I’ve given him, why would he run away? I knew how irrational these thoughts were but that did nothing to prevent them. Our minds work in strange ways.

After an hour, I entered stage 3: bargaining. As I drove around and around the neighborhood, interrogating every person I found, I was brokering my deal with God. ‘God, please give him back to me unharmed and I promise I’ll be better, I promise I’ll tithe.’ 

I called Lori (Wyatt’s breeder) and my friend Kay for advice and dismissed her suggestion of immediately calling local shelters. Wyatt had a collar tag and a microchip, I said, and if anyone found him, I’d be contacted immediately. This would soon be added to my healthy-sized record of mistakes.

Three and a half hours after I learned he was gone, I received the call, an unfamiliar number:

“Hi, this is the Palo Alto animal shelter. Do you own a dog named Wyatt?”

“Yes! Is he okay?!”

I knew what was coming was a moment of truth: the expected second something of extreme importance and uncertainty becomes certain, the tipping between ecstasy or devastation - admission letters, blood test results, marriage proposals, the last seconds of air before your lungs expand or drown.

“Yes, he’s fine.”

I can not describe the relief and joy I felt at that moment, just as I can not convey the despair I would have felt had the answer been different. I now can not comprehend the suffering parents endure when they learn their child is fatally sick, has just died, or worst, been senselessly killed. I felt how there is no comparing that loss to the loss of an item, even a very rare or expensive item. Items are replaceable, and even if they aren’t, we aren’t built to bond with them as we do with the living. 

I acutely felt how relationships are irreplaceable, which honestly made me question my assumption of having children, a commitment where I would never want to endure the fourth stage of despair and work somehow toward the final stage of acceptance.

Finally, the happy ending: I arrive at the shelter (after apologizing to Kay and Lori, who are both inspirationally understanding) and find the agent who called me. She tells me a neighbor found Wyatt roaming around my street without his collar tag (because he ate it?) around 8am and turned him into the shelter. The only reason the shelter knew to call me was because Kay called shelters on my behalf despite my dismissal. Noting I could have saved myself all this worry if I had listened to Kay, I am deciding how much chocolate I will buy her when the shelter brings Wyatt out. 

Looking just like he did the night before, he leapt on me at first sight, licked me on the face with a series of kisses, then gave me a few frustrating barks as if he should be asking where I have been. I tell him he’s an ungrateful mutt and that he’s grounded for a month but that I love him anyway. Now I just have to protect him from everything in the world, especially himself.

50 Comments:

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Me said...

I love your story and your dog is beautiful. I have a sexy lurcher named minstrel!

X

 
At 11:29 AM, Blogger Thiya said...

Very well written! :-)

 
At 12:38 PM, Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

Congratulations on landing the weekly spotlight on Blogger's front page!

 
At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sorry to hear about the gash on WYatt's face there. We go to a doggy park quite a bit during the week. There was a similar incident there not to long ago. The owner of the dog that was bitten is a real @$$hole! The park "nazi" if you will. I sometimes wonder if dogs get a bad vibe from a person and then this vibe gets associated from the person to the persons dog. ?

 
At 4:44 PM, Blogger mod*mom said...

how did you get on blogger's frontpage?
was it a surprise?
your most recent post is from last year. what's your dog up to now?

 
At 4:48 PM, Blogger modmom said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5:32 PM, Blogger R2K said...

Welcome to the blogger front page...

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger BionicBuddha said...

Very funny blog site and excellent pictures! Thanks for sharing...




www.bionicbuddha.com

 
At 10:25 PM, Blogger anonymous jones said...

That unfortunate, hideously deformed canine! I want to see the poop worm!

P.S. You should get your dog microchipped. The vet will do it for a small fee and then, even if he is stolen, his ID will be on him,in his ear.

 
At 6:18 AM, Anonymous Pam said...

This really made my morning! I usually don't read blogs, but this one was hysterical. I think I'll get the microchip for our mutt, Rogie.

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger Ella said...

That is one goregus dog! I have cats, but I would die to have a dog!

 
At 6:36 AM, Blogger Porl said...

i think boston is cute, he is my favourite.

 
At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Sue said...

Thank you for bringing a smile to my face. I'm waiting for the UPS man to deliver my puppy home to me for the last time. We had to have Sparky put to sleep last week after a long battle with cancer. We'll bury her in the rose bushes, since she insisted on crashing through them every chance she got. Hug Wyatt for me it's easy to see the place he fills in your life. I'm really feeling the void in mine right now.

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger Yvonne said...

Great story!! Love it! Well written also. And I envy you for your puppy. Do take good care of him. He's beautiful enough that someone might want to steal him. I'd never do that, though. Puppies love their owners.

 
At 9:30 AM, Blogger jtf1013 said...

Saw your blog on the front page - I, too, noticed this was a somewhat of a dated blog - what are Wyatt and his gifted writer owner doing now?

 
At 9:37 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Dogs always make for good stories (sooner or later), don't they? I will definitely have to check in on your blog - enjoyed reading it.

 
At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dogs are not human. You should not over indulge an animal. You are separating yourself from human interaction by allowing such affection, indulgence, and downright,idiotic behavior around the love of your dog. With so many in need on the planet, in California, and probably in your town, it's really sad that you value your relationship with a dog enough to write about it paragraph after paragraph. Find some kids to play with, work at a shelter, heck get involved in serious political activism, don't just pamper the friggin' dog and then write about it. Only in America. I wonder what Wyatt would taste like.

 
At 11:18 AM, Blogger I am . . . Andy Harding said...

Good old Rover! Nice blog, well informed and full of puppy dog goodness!

 
At 11:44 AM, Blogger Mops Emy said...

hello,

it's a great dog!

best regards, Wolf

 
At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad about all the huskies at shelters that waste away homeless or worse because you bought a dog from breeders. You could have helped a dog, instead you helped yourself.

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger authorazzi said...

Very nice page - my parrot has a myspace, but not a whole blog!

 
At 7:15 PM, Blogger EmailHosting.com said...

Some dogs seem like they are harmless and their owners always claim them to be so; however, I would always exercise caution around any and all dogs.

You do have a talent in writing though. Maybe, you should publish a book. I would be a buyer of it.

 
At 9:33 AM, Blogger Raskolnicov! said...

Nice entry, and cute dog. This is my first peek a boo of your BLOG, and IIIIIII laike (like) it. Keep on truckin'

 
At 8:12 PM, Blogger Aine Bina said...

Boston is pretty adorable. Wyatt has more traditional good looks, but Boston clearly has a lot of soul. I know some weeks ago the Washington Post had an article about how to break up a dog fight. It might still be in the free archives.

 
At 9:03 AM, Blogger River said...

Congratulations on hitting Blogger's Blogs of Note. I enjoyed very much reading through your adventures in puppy parenthood. Thank you very much for sharing the joys and trials that you and Wyatt are growing through. The photography is wonderful, and your Wyatt is most definately a handsome fellow!

 
At 12:00 PM, Blogger Butthawk said...

It's a drag when they fight but they nearly always work things out for themselves with minor damage. It's when the Humans enter the equasion that the trouble begins. Dogs are basically always at war and this will never change and remember, Dog is God spelled backwards.

 
At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work as an Animal Control Officer in British Columbia. Had Wyatt been impounded at our Shelter, you would have been charged a $150 fee, and you would have been required to purchase a license....$35 if he is (hopefully) neutered, $65 if he is not.
Licensing your dog is a big part of responsible dog guardianship, and there is no valid excuse not to do it. Keeping your dog safe and contained is also your responsibility, especially for a Northern breed, one you chose knowing that they are wanderers.
You are lucky that Wyatt's story has a happy ending. There are easy ways to make sure you don't risk his life again.

 
At 2:38 PM, Blogger Lasse said...

To be hornest I just looked at the pictures - but BOY that is the sweetest dog I have seen in a long time!

 
At 3:09 PM, Blogger 8675309 said...

Fantastic blog! And a gorgeous little husky, too. Lomax and I salute you.

 
At 8:29 PM, Blogger Soulfull said...

What a beautiful dog and post!

 
At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Mick said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. Wyatt is a beautifull dog.

Dont feel too bad about feeling bad about the gash on his face. I have felt exactly the same emotions when my first son got a chicken pox scar on his forehead. When it happened it was like 'oh crap, hes not perfect any more, I could have prevented that' and then 'thats silly, he's got so many other qualities'.

He still has the scar but he is still a good lookin boy and its just a part of his character now. Kids and dogs get into trouble :)

 
At 2:00 AM, Blogger Zoe Hands said...

A great read. I'm glad I stopped by :)

 
At 1:00 AM, Blogger WW said...

"so we walked to the Cheesecake Factory and I bought myself a $14 plate of pasta and Wyatt a $25 entrée of pork chops and spinach; this is clearly the lunatic effect of parenthood."


Way too funny and true. I have a cat I will go overboards for. I will open one of every flavor of cat food and line them up. Then it's fresh chicken livers and on and on.

Cute dog.

WW

 
At 6:46 AM, Blogger puddles said...

Wyatt sounds like he likes to get himself into lots of trouble.. some times.. i have a bassett hound that does the same thing ...

 
At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is obvious you have no clue as to how to care for a dog. Please read available information (It is all over the internet) and see if you can learn something. Try some training, for both you and the poor dog.

 
At 8:17 PM, Blogger Author said...

Oh my gosh.
I love your, or Wyatt's I guess I should say, blog. I enjoy reading is so much and it always puts a smile on my face. Wyatt is adorable.
Thanks for making me grin.

 
At 2:43 AM, Blogger deepsat said...

very nicely written!!! cute dogs!! aren't they the best!!!

 
At 12:17 AM, Blogger one ben bir sey said...

loved the story even though ı am cat lover:)Keep up the good work:)

 
At 7:08 PM, Blogger spitzer said...

Twenty five dollars for a pork meal and you complain about a seventy three dollar charge for an organization that helped you get your dog back. Why does everyone complain about paying the government for their services, do we think they owe it to us just because we live here? Roads and organizations don’t just build themselves.
And on a more serious note, don't ever force your dog to wear stupid outfits, ever! (I saw the spider hat and am a bit concerned).

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger Life is Good said...

By your talented writing...I have definitely fallen in love with Wyatt..:) and I won't forget Boston. I think that you and your puppies are adorable. Wyatt is loved..that is plain to see. Have a wonderful day and give Wyatt a pat on the head for me.

 
At 12:52 AM, Blogger Lost in Brain Space said...

Thank you so much for the story of you and Wyatt, so far, and for any more "episodes" to come. Except for the gash on the face and the bit where your hound went missing, I couldn't stop laughing.

Absolutely brilliant.

You made my day!

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger Alece said...

Blog of Note and not even updated since December? While it's a great post, I do wonder how/why it was chosen as a Blog of Note...

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger momma said...

I love Wyatt! I have a beloved Malamute named Tikani. I read him your blog and it is the highlite of his day!

please take a look at my blog- it is a bit more serious but I enjoy doing it.
I hope to hear from you

mommawasthinking.blogspot.com

 
At 10:45 AM, Blogger Erzabet said...

What a roller coaster! I love happy endings especially in regards to pets. I'm a first time dog owner and couldn't imagine going through what you have. Phoenix is my world and I found myself once yelling at a kid on a bike who nearly ran him over. Thanks also for the heads up on unleashed parks. I've been considering taking Phoenix to one but I think for now the long leash I have will do just fine. Both Boston and Wyatt are beautiful.

 
At 8:49 PM, Anonymous cyndi Lenz said...

microchips are wonderful and not that expensive. A must for all huskys. There is a nifty new product-i can't remember the name of it but its a lo jack for dogs. your dog gets out and you call these people and they activate the thing and tell you where your dog is. I'm considering getting one of these for my golden casye who has terrible thunderstormphobia and sometimes i don't get home in time.

 
At 6:02 AM, Blogger The Yacht Broker said...

I love dogs!
Good photos!

 
At 4:31 PM, Blogger michaela said...

Aww, Boston captured my heart.

 
At 12:07 AM, Anonymous positive affirmation said...

I really love this dog.., so cute..


I forgive myself
As I forgive myself. I leave behind all feelings of not being good enough, and I am free to love myself.

 
At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Kid Rock Tickets said...

Beautiful,delicate,enigmatic.it's going to be great. And I'm 100% with you on the boob sweat. It's just plain unnecessary!

 

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