Coco bit me last night. We were walking outside when I noticed she had something in her mouth. An acorn? A mushroom? Something that could poison her??? I reached inside her mouth, like I’ve done dozens of times, to retrieve the foreign object and felt her teeth sink into my skin. It was a shock. Blood dripping from my finger, I dragged Coco back to the house and went straight to the kitchen to run my finger under cold (really lukewarm) water and assess the damage. The skin was broken, but it didn’t look like the bite required stitches, so I wrapped my finger in a paper towel to stop the bleeding. Then I sat down on my floor and cried.
It hurt, damn it! Coco circled around me a few times, then settled into a nook in the kitchen and whimpered.
The scene reminded me of an incident in November of 2011. I was at my mom’s house in her bedroom. My mom, Coco, and I were sitting on her bed, watching TV. It was time to take Coco outside for the last potty break of the evening, so I scooped her up and started walking toward the door, forgetting about the iron dog bed positioned at the foot of Mom’s bed. (The pillows were covered in fabric that matched the bedding on Mom’s bed. Precious, I know.)
I stubbed my toe on the dog bed and fell, releasing Coco from my arms. My mom leapt out of bed and rushed to the scene of the accident: blood from my big toe was pooling on the carpet, and Coco was crying, her paw fractured in the fall. I burst into tears and picked Coco up, cradling her. My toe hurt, damn it, but I was more upset about Coco. Mom scurried to the bathroom to get a towel and carpet cleaner to minimize the damage to the carpet. (Priorities, you know.)
I put Coco in her kennel so she wouldn’t walk around on her leg, and Mom took me to the emergency clinic nearby. We joked that it was her turn to rush me to the emergency room and hold my hand while I got stitches/x-rays/pain meds. My toe required 7 stitches – man, the shot the doctor gave me to numb my toe was a killer! I squeezed my mom’s hand and tried not to pass out. After my toe was stitched up, we drove through the Whataburger across the street, because I was starving!
Last night, there was no trip to the emergency clinic, no Whataburger, and no Mom. Just Coco and me, reeling from the trauma. I felt so silly, crying over a little dog bite. If it had been more serious, I would have gone to the clinic and probably called someone to meet me there so I wouldn’t be alone, but I didn’t think a minor injury warranted a pity call to a friend, so I suffered in solitude.
As with so many things lately, it’s not about the incident so much as it is about missing my mom. It’s been seven months since she died, eight months since she went into the hospital for the last time. She wasn’t herself the last month of her life, so I really date the loss of my mother to September 24. We knew she wouldn’t survive the cancer, but the end came more suddenly and hopelessly than we had imagined. Her absence in a crisis, even a small one, magnifies my loneliness and makes me wonder if I will ever feel tethered to someone again.
Coco and I made up this morning. I told her I knew she didn’t mean to hurt me and that I was sorry for putting my finger in her mouth (really sorry!) My finger will heal, and Coco will go back to being less dog, more human (although this will go on her permanent record.) I’ll be more cautious when she’s around people, especially kids, to make sure no other appendages end up in her mouth.
She remains the angel dog we all know and love.