Thursday, July 07, 2005

Please Step Away From the Poodle

We’re back from our annual Fourth of July trip to the cabin. I’ll share about the actual trip later. At the moment, I’m still traumatized by what happened on the way home yesterday.

The Demigoddesses and I had just finished our traditional halfway-point lunch, and were stopped for gas at a Holiday station outside of Duluth. While I filled the tank for the remainder of the drive home, the Demis were inside the station hunting for Tangy Taffy, and EmmyLou, my much-loved pointer, was in the front passenger seat.

Before I go any further, I must point out that Lou is a very sweet, friendly, affectionate dog. She is wonderful with the Demis, and had just spent five days at the lake playing with my parents’ sheltie without any incident. But Lou loves to run, especially after rabbits and squirrels, and has, on occasion, been known to catch small rodents and… er… liquidate them. She also has a tendency to escape, so to ensure that she stayed put during our road trip, she was wearing her Gentle Leader, which was attached to her extension leash, which I had secured to the car by fastening the passenger-side seatbelt through the handle. And just to be safe, when she was buckled in securely, I even locked the leash's extension function.

By the time we arrived in Duluth and I could pick it up on the radio, the Twins game was in its third inning. The fuel was filling, and as I started cleaning the dead bugs off the windshield, I noticed that I couldn’t hear the play-by-play because I had left the power windows rolled all the way up. Not wanting to re-start the car to lower the windows, I opened the driver’s side door a crack, so I could listen while I squeegeed. For a few minutes, everything was fine. The Twins were ahead by two runs, Santana was on the mound, traffic was light, the weather was good, and we would be home in a couple of hours.

I wish I could view a surveillance video of what happened next, because it all went down so fast that I’m not even sure exactly what happened. I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye, and then a woman was screaming, and I spun around to see my dog, two pumps over, muzzle to the ground, with a bitty, yelping poodle head sticking out one side, and eensy poodle hind legs wiggling out the other side. Of my dog's MOUTH.

Lou was still attached to my car’s seatbelt via the leash, which was apparently not so much locked after all. I dropped the squeegee and yanked the leash as hard as I could with both hands, yelling at the dog at the same time. She immediately backed off, leaving a tiny, wounded mass of grayish poodle flopping around on the pavement.

After an initial bit of yelling, everyone calmed down fairly quickly as we tried to assess the damage. It turned out that the poodle did not even belong to no-longer-screaming lady, she was only taking care of it, and although her remarkably calm male companion insisted that the wet stuff in the poodle’s fur was only drool from Lou’s mouth (or, froth from her rabid maw, whichever you prefer...), I could see that it was, in fact, blood. Not a lot of blood, but definitely some, and the poor little dog was so terrified that it wouldn’t let me or anyone else touch it to see how deep the wounds were. It was all in a rage now, snapping at the man’s hands as he picked it up and tried to calm it down.

A super-helpful bystander came over and said that the poodle was definitely going to need antibiotics. "Because the only thing dirtier than an animal mouth is a human mouth." Thanks for sharing, super-helpful bystander. Now please shut up before I send Cujo after you, too.

No-longer-screaming lady and her man friend were also on their way back to Minneapolis. She talked about trying to find an emergency vet in Duluth, and although I kept quiet, I silently prayed that I wasn’t going to end up stuck with a multiple-hundred-dollar emergency vet bill. She finally decided to wait and bring the poodle home, and then take it to its regular vet. So we exchanged phone numbers and went on our respective ways.

My hands shook on the steering wheel for most of the rest of the drive home. In my mind, I went over and over every event of the day up to that point, considering all the variables that had to be in place for that moment to have happened exactly the way it did. I wished we had left the cabin just a few minutes earlier, or had taken just a few minutes longer to eat lunch. I wished I had left the car door closed, or had double-checked that the extension leash was, in fact, locked. But, like most regrettable events, it’s hard to pinpoint a single moment at which the poodle’s fate was sealed.

Even after we got home and unpacked the car, I couldn’t get out of my head the image of my cheerful, lovable dog crouched on the ground with an entire poodle writhing in her foaming jaws of death. For a few desperate moments, I even tried to come up with ways in which that poodle had somehow earned it--reasons why it wasn’t really my dog’s fault, and, by extension, my fault. But in the end, the best explanation I could come up with was that the little dog, it simply looked a bit too much like a bunny. Or, maybe a squirrel.

I know I should call and find out if the poodle is all right. But at the moment, the thought of it still makes me nauseous. So, for now, we’re going to be purchasing an old-fashioned, non-extension leash very soon. And, in the future, we’ll be steering the foaming jaws of death way clear of tiny dogs who look like rodents.

(And the baseball game went into the crapper shortly after this all happened, too. Naturally.)


Meghan said...

OH MY GOD. I can't beleive that.

I can sort of empathize. Read the letter of apology from Rainier to Tilly the Boxer. THAT happened on Sunday.

You poor poor thing! AAAH!

Batgirl said...

Poor ESG. I'm so sorry. Doggie can barely be blamed, though--how was he to know a poodle was a dog?