Sunday, May 3, 2009

Worst Fears

Like many people, I’ve spent more time than I'd like in emergency rooms. But until this past Saturday, I'd never spent time in one for animals.

It looked a little different from the ERs I’ve frequented. The sick and injured couldn’t tell the doctors where they hurt. The magazines had names like “Bark.” And instead of a soothing art featuring flowers or exotic places, there were portraits of animals on the walls. But the emotions of the people waiting were the same as in any ER: fear, dread, and concern.

As I write this, my sore and subdued dog sleeps near my feet. He has remained close by since he was attacked by two dogs during our Saturday afternoon stroll. The owner accidentally dropped the leashes and when I saw the dogs running toward us, I thought they wanted to play. No one expected what happened next.

I’m surprised my screams weren't heard a mile away as I tried to wrestle Buddy away from the jaws of his attackers and the owner attempted to pull the large dogs off my 18-pound Lhasa Apso. My dog's abundant long hair protected him from more severe injuries. Even so, he has a small wound in his ear, a nearly 5-inch, stitched-up gash with a drain poking out of his side following surgery, and dark bruises on his back.

I feel guilty that I was unable to protect him. But I am relieved that my dog will recover. As a fiction writer, someday I’ll be able to use these emotions and the sheer terror of the attack in my writing. As I always say, it's all novel material.

But this experience also provides a tiny glimpse into the staggering guilt that must overwhelm people unable to protect a child or other loved one from great harm or grave illness. I cannot imagine carrying such a burden every day. My heart breaks when I think of those who do.

Author Jodi Picoult says she writes about her worst fears, hoping that by doing so she will never have to face them in reality. I feel a little like that about this weekend’s experience. I hope nothing similar happens, or worse, to someone or something I love because I can’t stop it. And like Jodi Picoult, I pray that saying so means it never will.

Do you ever feel that way ~ that if you voice your fears, the bad things won't happen?

This is Buddy recuperating....


Sweet said...

It's so cute.

Rosemary Harris said...

Poor baby. must bring him to the next meeting.