Thursday, June 21, 2007

Feeling Clapton

No, I cannot miraculously play like a guitar god. But this week, I got a taste of Clapton circa Tears In Heaven.

My dog has always been something of a mama’s boy. In fact I seem to be rather skilled at attracting mama’s boys to my world. Explains why I like Italians. But Simon Le Dog, despite the fact we’ve been together for seven years and I always, amazingly, return home, is still convinced each time I shut the door behind me he’s been left forever. He’ll emit such plaintive yowls they can be heard for blocks and I’m quite certain my neighbors think I must keep hot needles in his paws.

I can understand his separation anxiety to a point. When I got him from the pound he was five and had been dumped twice. Our session in the pound meet-and-greet enclosure was cool at best. I sat in a chair while he walked away and sat with his back to me with an air of “yeah lady, sure you want to take me home. I’ve heard it all before.”

We’ve gotten very close over the years and it pains me to think he still thinks I’d ever leave him. I mean I’ve dumped boyfriends who didn’t like him. Our mutual attachment is strong to the point where I can instantly make myself cry if I think about life post-Simon. He’s twelve now after all.

This week it seems he took solving our daily separation into his own paws. My across the street neighbors who adore Simon and often sit for him called me when he showed up on their porch, limping and sheepish. “He knew he’d done something bad.” One reported.

Best we can surmise he somehow got himself up onto the window sill in our bedroom. He sees the cat up there every day so he must have figured, why not? It seems at a certain point, he realized this was not a good place to be as we live on the second floor and the stairs to the street end just below, fifteen feet down.

From the claw marks on the sill, I think he tried to turn around and slipped, going out back end first. That he made that fall and survived at all is nothing short of miraculous. That he survived with no broken bones or internal injuries is amazing. I believe the cat is now short a borrowed life or two. It’s a testament to his youthful spirit. He has no arthritis and is as active and playful as dogs half his age.

Many hours at the emergency vet later, the only serious issue is a blown ACL that will require costly surgery. Only - like that’s somehow not crazy-serious and more money than I have. But it so easily could have been so much worse.

Now my days are filled with surgeon and rehab research and countless calls to vets, friends and fellow dog-owners. And guilt. What kind of mom lets this kind of thing happen? I should have known he might try something crazy and unthinkable, shouldn’t I have? I guess I was in denial. I mean what kind of intelligent being flings himself out a second story window? I thought the fear of falling would be enough to stop any such impulse. I swear he’s a really smart dog.

So, a day late and a dollar short, all my windows are now screened and barriered against further mishaps, although now I really doubt he’d try it again. But I don’t want to be in denial about it. Apparently one of us has to be a responsible adult about the whole thing and I think for too long, I expected it would be him.

I know our experience has very little in common with what Eric Clapton’s family went through losing his son to a fall from an open window. But I understand how he must have felt. You just never think things will go that far; that basic survival instinct will prevail...that you’ll be able to prevent tragedy by the sheer force of your parental will. And I’m sure Clapton’s guilt and sorrow were a hundred fold mine. My furry son lived after all. But I’m sure he dealt with the guilt and judgment of others and I bet he he hoped people would grant that it was a very unfortunate accident. As a parent, you beat yourself up enough. And I have been. I’m the worst mother ever. Must be. How could I ever hope to actually give birth?

My mother called in the midst of all of this self-flagellation. “Oh honey, you can't think that way. Remember your hands?” She then reminded me of the time when I was just learning to walk and my aunt pulled a roast out of the oven. Before she or my mom could react I toddled over and lost my balance, falling hands first onto the open oven door. I have pictures of me with huge mittens of bandages cradling “See Spot Run” and other favorite titles as I retreated into my literary world for healing.

I told her about a friend in New York who’d been bathing her new born in the kitchen sink when he flailed up and hit the instant hot water spigot resulting in 3rd degree burns over his whole tiny body. As mom and I talked it seemed like every parent we knew of human or fur baby had dealt with some crazy accident or other.

“Every parent makes mistakes. We all just do our best. We can’t think of everything. He’s lucky to have a mom who loves him so much.”

I felt better. Not let off the hook or anything but human in my erring.

So Simon and I are housebound for the time being. He cries if I leave the room now and I tell him this was all a silly way to get my attention. He gets pain meds twice a day while I research our best course of action. Mostly I’m just glad he’s here on his pillow next to me. I’m sure that day back in the pound enclosure neither of us would have guessed we’d ever get here. But here we are. Happy to be together. And maybe, in spite of all this, I’ll make a good human mom too. Someday. For now it’s time for another milk bone.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Sarah said...

Remind me to tell you my world's-worst-nanny stories from my past. Let's just thank our lucky stars I have no desire to nanny now because my referrals would suck. Shit happens. It's how you deal with it that counts.

10:54 AM  

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