I’m finally ready to write about what happened even though I still have a little bit of PTSD from the day I got in a dog fight. My family will say that this is another example of my tendency for exaggeration, but none of them were actually there so they really don’t know shit.
It was November 13th, a Friday. I was still in my robe and just about to change my work voicemail and email messages to read: “My mind has left my body until Monday so I will get back to you then” (or something to that effect) and begin a three day weekend ALL BY MYSELF. ALONE to do whatever I wanted to do for two and a half days! A miracle was about to unfold. All my manboys living under our roof and/or in Spokane had literally just left for a hunting trip in Colville and I had already made completely sure that neither of the college kids would be coming home for any kind of nurturing, otherwise known as a trip to Costco and some cat and dog love. I had waved goodbye to the hunters and literally did this happy dance all the way to my office with great plans to have a writing marathon weekend and finally get myself past 20,000 words in the novel I’m writing.
No sooner had I picked up my phone to end all possible work for the day when I heard the most horrifying noise in the living room. It sounded like it was coming from one or both of the dogs, but it was not any noise they had ever made before. It was a snarling-growling-barking-howling from the depths of a dog soul kind of sound. I ran quickly to where the commotion was coming from and saw what looked like Cooper’s teeth embedded in Bella’s neck so deep that red tendons were hanging out as he tossed her around like a giant rag doll. I started yelling and screaming unable to process in my mind why Cooper, our sweet, dopey four year old yellow lab would be trying to kill Bella the Brown but not Brave Chesapeake Bay Retriever, who on a good day, was skittish and nervous but at the moment was a snarling, foaming at the mouth hound from hell trying to get loose from Coopers jaws.
I leaped into the brawl without thinking and attempted to pry Cooper’s strong jaws from Bella’s neck thinking I would use my bathrobe belt to quickly bind her gaping neck while I drove her to the Pet Emergency in an attempt to save her sweet but short life thus far.
Why is it that I ALWAYS go to the darkest possible scenario in every single situation? Did I read too many Stephen King novels as a child? Did I not get enough folate in utero? Am I simply preparing for the worst so that I’m certain to NEVER be disappointed? I mean for a self proclaimed, eternal optimist I sure do jump to frightening conclusions when I’m in the thick of shit.
I discovered after approximately 15 to 20 seconds of being in a dog wrestling match, that Cooper had somehow gotten his bottom teeth caught in Bella’s RED COLLAR and she had been flipped over, trapping his jaw further into the twisted red material that could have easily been mistaken for gaping bloody neck tendons by any normal person without her glasses on. Instead Bella was simply being strangled to death and causing quite a scene in the process. I glanced over to my right to see Crowley Bobinski, the newest kitten in the family frozen, his eyes wide in complete fear while his best buddies were trying to kill each other. With superhuman strength I pried Cooper’s jaw open, releasing Bella from sure death had someone not been home.
They both separated and I flopped down on the ground in a heap until I realized I was covered in blood. Calmly I called the dogs over to inspect the damage. Neither of them were bleeding but both were extremely sheepish and remorseful, licking my hands in apology. I then realized it was me that was bleeding. Gushing in fact, from bite marks on my hands and a couple of nasty scrapes on my knees and shins.
When I’m IN, I’m ALL IN people.
But once I realized my dogs were fine and there would be no tourniquets or Pet Emergency visits, I fell apart. I ran for my phone and called the mighty hunters in complete hysteria. At first, NO ONE ANSWERED their damn phones. They’d only been gone a few minutes so they weren’t out of cell range yet. WTF. I started sobbing, speed dialing them over and over until finally the oldest answered and I said “PUT YOUR DAD ON THE PHONE! I’VE BEEN BITTEN.” I said in between sobs and snotty hiccups.
They were all still at the gas station four blocks from the house.
Grant came barging into the house all frantic two minutes later, but I noticed that no one else came in the house. I assume that they assumed it was just more mom drama that was best handled by dad.
I was still sobbing and shaking but calmer now that I knew I wasn’t alone in my personal bloodbath of dog bites. “I just needed you to look at my hands and tell me it’s not serious. You can go now. Sorry.”
“Good Lord Heather, we’ve been gone for fifteen minutes and LOOK AT YOU!” Apparently I had blood all over my face and looked a little bit like Carey on prom night, except I was in my bathrobe. I had a twenty second cry and then sent him off to go kill stuff with the boys.
I flooded my cuts with hydrogen peroxide and got myself showered and bandaged up, determined to move on from the heinous experience and get myself ready for my writing marathon and went to the store for dog treats, wine and shrimp for dinner. (The dog treats were for the dogs you weirdos, I just don’t always use good grammar.)
I got home and realized I had still not changed my voicemail and email messages and dumped the groceries on the counter to go do that so I could not answer my phone guilt free. Also, I called my daughter, my aunt and a friend, telling the tale of my awful Friday the 13th experience and then made a TERRIBLE MISTAKE by saying the following words out loud:
“Well at least I got the Friday the 13th nonsense out of the way so that I can get on with my AWESOME writing weekend.”
I went back into the kitchen to put away the groceries and realized that I had left the backdoor open. The screen door was also open about four inches and I suddenly heard Grant saying “We really need to watch that back screen door, it sticks open and Bobinski is showing interest in going outside.”
The last time I had seen him he’d been watching his buddies try to kill each other. He clearly had run away. I visualized him with a little cartoon knapsack across his back as he went in search of a new and better home where dogs don’t fight and blood covered humans don’t wail and scream.
I quickly checked all his hiding spots in the house before venturing outside. It had just started raining, the wind was blowing and it would be dark in an hour. I scanned the backyard, looked up trees and spotted four possible ways he could have gotten out of the backyard and into the vicious cruel world.
I had lost the two youngest boys’s covid rescue kitten.
I quickly went inside the house and printed up a picture of him to show the neighbors and started going door to door. I was wind blown and wet from the rain. That paired with frantic eyes and bandages on both hands made me look like I had escaped from an insane asylum. But the neighbors were still super nice if not guarded. One suggested I post my missing kitten on Facebook. Another suggested the neighborhood social media page Nextdoor Digest. After scouring the block I finally went inside and followed their suggestions and also made a few “have you seen this kitten?” signs for the telephone polls. Maria also suggested I call the microchip people, who after a forty-five minute therapy phone call session put an APB out for Crowely Bobinski for the small price of $24.99. But they also suggested I put his litter box outside because indoor cats hate pooping outside and the smell might lure him back to safely go potty. A social media friend said to put some salmon out. Another said to put an item of clothing from his favorite person outside. So I put all of that stuff (his dad David’s pillow and his dad Mitchel’s stinky shoes) out by the back door and then had to create this intricate barrier across the door made from a crowbar, Grant’s smoker, some two by fours and four concrete bricks so that the door was cracked open for Bobinski to come in but a person couldn’t easily come through the door (and then the other door) and murder me in my sleep or steal my shrimp that I still had not eaten.
Then I realized that I’d put all this stuff on social media and the boys would soon be back at the motel after their afternoon hunt and see that I had LOST THEIR KITTEN. So I had to make the phone call.
I felt so awful. They told me all the places to look for him, positive he was still in the house and just scared from the dog fight. But I could tell in their voices they were freaked out. I said I would keep looking, even though I’d already looked EVERYWHERE at least ten times. I prowled the house in tears until about ten o’clock, the dogs somberly following me everywhere until I finally just went to bed, no food, no wine, no writing. Just a ball of sadness with sore hands and a body that felt like it had been run over by a truck. I wished the college kids had come home for nurturing and called each of them. They both soothed me in their unique ways and I drifted off into restless sleep filled with dreams of finding Bobinski, only to wake up and start crying again at the knowledge it was only a dream.
Dawn finally came and I let the dogs out in the back to do their business. I inspected my litterbox, man boy clothing, salmon barricade to see if there had been any action. Nothing.
I stepped back inside and looked down the basement steps with groggy sleep and food deprived neurosis eyes and saw what I THOUGHT was Bobinski staring at me. “Oh there you are you little fucker!” Then I blinked and he wasn’t there anymore. Had I actually seen him or was I just going crazy? I didn’t want to tell the boys I’d found him if I’d just imagined him. I’d already broken the mold for crazy in their eyes. So I poured myself a strong cup of coffee and proceeded to tear the entire basement apart and reorganize it all while looking for the ghost kitten.
SIX HOURS LATER I FOUND THE LITTLE SHIT under the basement stairs behind twenty plastic tubs filled with holiday decorations and ten years of tax receipts and some other very scary stuff I didn’t know was under there. He was tucked in a four inch corner, eyes flooded with light from the flashlight app on my phone. I dove for him before he could get away and brought him into David’s room, that was now nice and clean from my tear apart/reconstruct campaign and checked him over for any harm that could have occurred during the dog fight. Nothing. I scolded him with sweet words telling him I was going to kill him later. But for now “here’s some salmon”. He rubbed against me all purry and sweet. Cats are such dicks.
Then I called the boys. Their afternoon hunt on Saturday was a hell of a lot more joyful and I finally ate my shrimp and drank some wine and didn’t write a single word.
I decided that I write better when people are in the house to keep me safe from myself. Also, I figured out that there is a huge difference between being alone and being left alone. I now have more empathy for those who are dealing with being alone and more gratitude for the times I am left alone, but with company in case I need it.
P.S. Collars are also now forever banned in my household.