Code of Arms

I have been trying to get my arms around the emotional and financial impact of the events that happened in our home last week. In the near future I’m sure it won’t be a big deal, part of me knows right now it is not, but I don’t want to underestimate the impact of what happened.

Let me rip it right out of context to give you the full impact. Reilly kicked the puppy (Menlo) and broke Menlo’s leg. Now, to be Oprah in a way… in my world dropping a baby, punching a kitten, clubbing a sealpup, kicking a puppy… they all are about as awful as can be. I think people who have done those things are pretty awful.

NOW, let’s put some context around it – let me paint the scenario at home for you. I’m working in the kitchen because no one is home and I wanted to be close to the fridge (my bff of inanimate objects). Reilly and Shad come home at 3:50pm and I tell them to go do something else because I’m in the kitchen working. (I could sugarcoat that and say I said something really sweet and nice, but I didn’t.) I told Reilly he needed to take Menlo outside, he frowned, the phone rang and it was a work call. Reilly and Shad were still discussing the dog so I moved into the cold porch to work and talk with this contact at a media company; it was a rare circumstance they were there since they usually head out to a guitar lessons or the gym or something else. Anyway, Reilly goes outside with the dog, Shad’s doing something in the kitchen, I am in the porch. A few minutes go by and I hear this dog bark/cry that was completely unfamiliar yet remarkably noticeable at the same time. I was slightly distracted but I think more because the media guy on the other end of my phone call might hear the dog and that epitomized unprofessional in my book. Seconds later Shad comes running in, the puppy in his arms and bangs on the slider. Immediately I was pissed, DO NOT INTERRUPT while I’m working. As a result I glared at him and pointed to the phone. I think it was about that time that I saw the blood. It was all over Shad and I could see some on the dog. I jumped and said “Todd (media guy), I’m sorry, I have to go and I will call you back” I didn’t wait for a response and hung up the phone. I opened the slider to see Shad, a little panicked (which if you know Shad is an anomaly), blood all over his hands and he said “Reilly kicked the dog and I think she broke her leg” at which point he put the dog in my arms. I held her as Shad touched her leg and it flopped in the opposite direction. Clarity was not my friend, I let out an “oh my GOD SHAD” and was immediately ready to scream at Reilly who I could now hear sobbing in the hall. I started to cry. My crying was of confusion, anger and sadness for this puppy who was now sobbing in my arms. I do not recall ever hearing an animal sob before last Tuesday. I felt so sad for this helpless little life that we adopted and had worked hard to convince the rescue org that we were the perfect home for a new pup. Ugh.

Betsy Hansen
Menlo Pugsley

Shad proceeded to tell me he saw Reilly outside and saw the series of unfortunate events transpire. He went outside, grabbed the dog, who out of panic bit down on his hand so hard with her razor sharp puppy teeth he was loaded with little puncture wounds that bled significantly. He told me to call the vet – (who thankfully we visited with Menlo not 24 hours before for a UTI) I couldn’t get composed quickly enough because of my furry friend sobbing in my lap. Shad found the number before I did – again thankfully it was 24 hours before because the receipt with the number was still on the counter. I called. I lied. “We had an accident and I think my puppy has a broken leg. <what happened> Maybe my son stepped on her or something or kicked, I don’t know but her leg is pointing in the opposite direction, I’m pretty sure it’s broken. She told me to come right over.

We piled in the truck and Menlo continued to sob. I think she was on the brink of going into shock. All these thoughts are racing through my head. As I looked and listened to Reilly on the way over “I’m sorry Menlo, I’m sorry Menlo, Menlo, I’m sorry” as he sat in the back with his huge Sorel snowboots on. I wanted to scream at him for doing this. Thankfully I knew enough to bite my tongue. I may have let out a HOW did this happen? but Shad’s patience and calming disposition and soft hand on my leg as we drove were a silent reminder that what I wanted to say would not help the situation AT ALL. Shortly after he said to Reilly “We love you buddy.”  I recall what one of my girlfriends says to me all the time “you married a SAINT”. It’s times like this I wonder how I was blessed with him, he is a saint.

We get into the vet hospital and they remember me from the day before and put us right in a room. Within 20 minutes we learn that it is a full break of two bones all the way through that likely will require surgery. And now I’m hearing cha-ching (since they have the dog sedated I can start thinking about the impact on our life outside of the very here and now.) How am I going to travel? Who is going to take on the burden of this puppy since she won’t be able to get around to go the bathroom, walk up and down the stairs, and how in God’s name am I going to be able to tell the story of what Reilly did to this poor little thing. Ugh.

I called my brother Jeff and shared my here and now with him. He never judges; he listens. It was great to get it all out there from how I was feeling to how awful I felt for this dog and Reilly. Jeff was awesome. Just what I needed. And, not that this was about me but I knew that I was going to scream and it was going to in a way that I would never be able to take it back. So Jeff listened and heard it all instead. I went back into the waiting room with a much clearer head and much less anger in my heart. Reilly was waiting for me. He needed me and we hugged and hugged. I could tell he needed me because he didn’t know what to do with himself at all, he began shopping for a dog leash.

It was at that point that I remember thinking we have ALL done something like this in our life. We have all moved a dog or cat with our foot, pushed them off a counter or chair where they didn’t belong, pulled on a frogs leg or whatever the case may be. Most people have done something unfriendly to an animal that ironically they feel so bad about it they recall it to this day. Reilly it turns out, picked up the dog, she bit him, he started to drop her and kicked her. Although I suspect the kick was out of pain and frustration it resulted in severe trauma for both of them. He is completely distraught and feels like he’s a bad person.  He is such a sweetheart I want him to know he’s not bad.  Menlo is in terrible pain and has no idea why since she’s only been part of our family for a week or so. (as an aside, I’m not sure dogs think like that – but I choose to think of canine offspring as I do human offspring – with a personality)

From Shad’s and my perspective we are upset for both of them. (Okay, perhaps a little embarrassed and wondering what Christmas presents need to be returned so we can afford the upcoming vet bills.) Over the following three days we visited a “state of the art board certified” surgeon who came highly recommended. The surgeon that works through our local vet was away for a week so we had to go elsewhere. At the end of the exam the board certified muckety muck (who mind you was wonderful!) told us if it was his puppy he would cast her and she would be just fine. Little Menlo now hobbles around the house as best she can, tips over when she tries to sit, attempts to roll over to get out of bed but can’t, pees crooked (like her adopted mother) and gets her cast wet, BUT can eat just fine and attempt to torture Nandi by lying on top of her wherever she is. She has had no problem hobbling over to the bottom layer of the tree to try and eat the Scooby Doo ornament nor does she have a problem figuring out that it’s most beneficial to lay under Shea while she’s eating.

So, we are healing; all of us. I am taking Reilly to a counselor next week to make sure he is good with the whole thing. He had asked for some alone time with Menlo and cried so much it hurt me too. He feels sad I know it, I just don’t want him to think he’s bad, because he’s not. When they say time heals all wounds I just want to make sure I have done all that I can to enable the healing to take place.

Menlo will get her cast off next week and needs to take it easy for the two weeks following that. Hopefully she will still become Shad’s running partner. Afterall that was one of our wants with adopting a pooch. Nandi has become more of my pace and Menlo will hopefully become Shad’s one day.

My code of arms is merely that I want to wrap my arms around Reilly and the others when something like this happens. I want to use my arms instead of my mouth moving forward. Pain is an awful thing and love can often offset pain. I need to remember that. I assume, no actually I know from growing up, that saying what’s on your mind in that situation is NOT always the best thing. Hurtful comments can really last a lifetime even when you don’t mean it.

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