Monday 17 April 2006

Precious Life

Monday started out like any normal Monday. Up at 6, water the plants outside, put the dishes in the dishwasher and feed the dogs. Feeding the dogs is no simple task. There are 5 dogs now living in this household. I have one dog, Jackson, a Husky – LaCharlie and Harryb mix, I’m pet-sitting a Lhasa Apso named Xena, and my housemate owns three dogs, an older Wheaten Terrier, Rosie, and her two new rescued dogs, Charlie and Harry.Harry was rescued from a shelter in Austin, TX, and came to live with us about 9 months ago when he was just a year old. He’s a mixed breed, called a Schnoodle, part schnauzer and part poodle. Charlie came from somewhere in Utah and is just about a year old. Both boys love to play with each other. They run, they chase, they tug at each other’s toys, and they constantly have each other pinned down with jaws around the other’s neck. And they never fight – it’s all playing. Until Monday.

About 8 AM I was sitting at my desk reading emails, when I heard a blood-curdling scream come from Charlie. My housemate, Iris, and I ran into the dining room to find Charlie and Harry locked together, jaw to neck. Without hesitation, I stuck my hands right into the middle of the fray, got my hands around Charlie’s jaws and began pulling them wider, hoping to unlock the boys from each other. Iris, with her arthritic hands, tried her best to hold onto Harry. Both boys were flailing about, tugging, growling, and bearing their teeth. As I looked closer, it now looked like Harry actually had his mouth locked aroundCharlies’s throat.

I frantically pinned Charlie under my left arm and began to pry open Harry’s mouth, when I realized the extent of the problem. They were not biting each other, but somehow Charlie had gotten his lower jaw caught underneath Harry’s collar and the leather collar had twisted and was beginning to choke Harry. As the two struggled with each other, and as I tried desperately to see how to get them loose, Harry stopped moving.

“Get some pliers!” I yelled at Iris. I thought maybe I could undo the clasp on the collar. As she handed me the pliers and I tried pulling on the end of the collar, Charlie squealed in pain. The collar was too tight around Harry’s neck and I had no leverage.

Harry was limp and lifeless. Charlie, still pinned under my left arm remained quiet as I yelled at Iris, “I need scissors!”

As I tried to force the blade of the scissors underneath the leather collar, I told her to call 911. The collar was very tight around Harry’s neck, but I managed to get the edge of the scissors in about an inch. The scissors were too long and there wasn’t enough leverage to cut through.

“I need a knife!” I screamed, desperate to free the dogs. Iris returned with a knife and I began furiously cutting next to where the scissors were still in place under the collar. After only a few more seconds, the collar fell to the ground and Charlie scrambled out of sight.

Harry lay lifeless in my arms. His eyes were open and glazed. He had lost control of his bladder and bowels.

I grabbed his little face, put my hand around the outside of his jaws, and blew into his nostrils. Nothing. I rubbed his chest. Nothing.

Once more I blew into his nose. Still nothing. “Come on Harry, come on.” I said as I shook his chest. “You can’t die!”

I blew again, and waited.

And again. Still nothing.

I was getting ready to pick him up and shake him when I noticed his left eye blink. And then I heard him gasp.

“Oh, my God, Iris, he’s breathing!” Harry started panting. He sat up and looked at me. He was going to live! He continued to pant. As soon as I sure he was okay, I went looking for Charlie. I found him huddled on top of my bed. He appeared to be shaken but his mouth looked okay. I returned to Harry who was with Iris. Harry’s right eye was twitching slightly and when I put my hand on the top of his head to pet him, he started sneezing. We were both afraid at that moment that perhaps there was some brain damage.

A few minutes later the firemen arrived and suggested we take both of them to the vets to make sure they were okay, and to make sure that Harry’s trachea hadn’t been damaged. We rushed both of them to the doctors, and while in route, Iris administered homeopathy, an alternative medicine. She gave each of the boy’s remedies for shock, trauma, and bruising. It seemed to have helped.

Both dogs stayed with the vet for the day for observation. Harry’s x-rays and EKG were normal. Charlie’s mouth and teeth were fine. As for Iris and I, we’re still recovering from the trauma. Harry and Charlie don’t play as vigorously as they used to. Harry is more guarded and reserved. Charlie can’t figure out why his buddy doesn’t want to play, but he’s a puppy and has found my clothing a good substitute for Harry. He’s eaten two pairs of leather shoes and one pair of pants.

And both remain collarless.

We are grateful for the precious life that still remains with us, and this accident only serves to remind us once again that life is not to be taken for granted. I am reminded of a quote by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who wrote and worked with death and dying. “It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it is the only one we had.

I hope each day for you is lived to the fullest and lived like it’s the only day you have.

One Response to “Precious Life”

  1. cristina Says:

    Wow! years ago the same thing happened to me with my dog and my roommates dog! I find it hard to put collars on dogs anymore but for when I’m walking them on a leash.What a frightening event for all concerned, especially when your attempts to get the collars off hurt more.
    I just listened to one of you shows and decided to check out your website.
    Thank you, I believe you are a new friend to me…you and the Band.
    May the blessings of the Most High grace your life!

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