You know those people who in the midst of a crisis remain ethereally calm and unflappable; they never panic or question what they’re doing; they instinctively know on a cellular level what they need to do and the exact moment in which to do it; they are awe-inspiring to watch and provide a source of comfort to those experiencing the crisis with them?
Yeah, well, I’m the exact opposite of those people.
If those people are like cats — clever, never panicked and graceful — I am like a Chihuahua — yippy, running around in circles and likely peeing on myself.
In fact, once, many years ago, I was driving my car back to Texas from Pittsburgh and hit an overpass that was covered in ice. My car did a 180, went backwards down an embankment, and then I promptly wet my pants.
Super. Duper. Sexy.
Well, I had the pleasure of demonstrating this lovely facet of my personality to my children this week.
We live in a neighborhood that lately seems to be a haven for stray animals. I do not know if people are dropping these animals off or if the animals are merely finding their way here from other locations, but lately we’ve seen lots of dogs that belong to no one.
Years ago, when I lived in the country and had 7 acres, Virginia Slims Man and I would take in these dogs. This was back when I didn’t have children and actually liked animals. Now, I dream of the day when my blind, deaf, odiferous (Does that mean smelly? Seems like it should.) dog finally kicks it.
Kidding. Kind of. Not really.
Anyhoo, there is a trio of stray dogs that roams our neighborhood. They are always together and they consist of a poodle-like dog, another dog that I’d describe as black, and a puppy.
I’m not going to lie, the puppy is crazy cute. It’s little and fluffy and just all around adorbs, but I have no desire to add any animals to this family, so we just continue to drive by them every day.
Well, on Wednesday, The Good One, The Beast and I got into my minivan (If peeing myself weren’t enough of a turn-on, I also drive a minivan. Seriously, how do I not have a stalker?) to take The Good One to his guitar lesson. I was driving down the road when I saw two of the stray dogs crossing the street. I slowed down so that they could cross safely and then I made a comment to the kids, “I wonder where the puppy is?”
I started to accelerate, and at that very moment, the puppy appeared from behind a parked car and darted into the middle of the street.
I screamed and slammed on my breaks, but unfortunately I was too late to stop completely. I heard a thump followed by a squeal. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the two other dogs run to the puppy that lay motionless in the street.
Now, I think a normal reaction in this situation would consist of some initial panic and horror, followed by, perhaps, I don’t know, parking the car and walking back to check on the dog.
But that’s not what I did.
No. What I did went something like this. “Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. I hit the puppy. I hit the puppy. I hit the puppy. What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?”
I had absolutely no idea what to do. Should I get out of my car and attempt to help this dog? If I do, my children are going to see a bloody dog corpse. While The Beast, who is horrified by nothing, would likely find this intriguing, The Good One, who is all heart, would be destroyed to see the mangled puppy carnage that I had created.
So I sat there. The Good One was on the verge of exploding in tears, and The Beast crossed his arms in anger, pursed his lips into a pout and asked me why I wanted to kill the puppy.
So I sat there some more. Mumbling and taking the Lord’s name in vain. Repeatedly.
Then the practical part of my brain took over and I started worrying about things like if I pick up the puppy and try to take him to the animal hospital, The Good One is going to either be late or altogether miss his guitar lesson. I hate to be late. And what if one of these dogs has rabies? I don’t want rabies. I walk the long way around dead things on the road so that I won’t get rabies from the dust of decaying animals.
I said to the boys, “What do I do?”
Yes, I asked a near-sobbing 10-year-old and an angry 3-year-old what I should do.
Mother. Of. The. Year.
The Good One remained quiet, horror in his eyes, biting his lip to hold back his tears.
The Beast kept saying, “I want to see the puppy! Why did you kill the puppy?! You’re a bad mommy for killing the puppy.”
And I sat. And sat some more. And then sat a little bit more.
Then, doing what Chihuahuas do when in a state of panic, I called a cat: Virginia Slims Man.
Me: Honey, I hit that puppy. I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid to turn around because I don’t want the kids to see the body. Do I try to help it? What do I do?
VSM: Can you help it?
Me: I don’t think so. I’m sure it’s dead.
At this point I had decided that I at least needed to find out if the dog was dead. So I went around the block and told the kids to close their eyes. The Beast refused to close his eyes because he wanted to see the dog. The Good One attempted to put his hands over The Beast’s eyes, but this just started a screaming match.
TGO: Cover your eyes! You don’t want to see the dog!
The Beast: I WANT TO SEE!!
TGO: No, you don’t! It’ll be awful. Close your eyes!
The Beast: I WANT TO SEE THE FLAT PUPPY!!!
And that right there, my friends, is a four-line conversation that perfectly reflects the differences between my two sons.
So we looped around the block. I started rocking back and forth and continued chanting “Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.” My heart raced and I kept telling the kids to close their eyes.
We arrived at the scene of The Great Tall Timbers Stray Dog Massacre of 2013, but the puppy, somehow, was gone.
Did someone see me hit him, and in the five minutes that I sat paralyzed in confusion did they rescue the puppy? Did the other two dogs drag him off somewhere? Did he get up and walk away? Was he raptured? (It could happen.)
I had no clue.
We drove on to The Good One’s guitar lesson. TGO barely said two words. He was sick with worry about the dog that his mother likely murdered. The Beast talked nonstop about the flat puppy that Mommy hit and repeatedly questioned whether the puppy would forgive me. He also questioned whether I would forgive the puppy.
I think he doesn’t know what “forgive” means.
The Good One prayed for the puppy last night.
Then this morning, as I was driving to pick up The Beast from school, I drove slowly down the road and saw the poodlish dog and the black dog walking along the curb.
And right there next to them was the puppy, happily searching the neighborhood for food.
I can’t wait for The Good One to get home so I can tell him that I didn’t kill the puppy. And I’ve decided that if the opportunity presents itself, I’m going to catch the dogs and put them in my backyard until we can find them homes.
Or until I can skin them for a mutt coat.