Archive | October, 2021


26 Oct

The cry of pain came just as I was finishing up my dinner prep. I dropped everything and rushed into the living room where I found Richard hobbling on three feet.

“Oh Little Man,” I cooed, “What happened?” Of course, he didn’t answer me – basset hounds can’t talk. So I gently got him to lay on a blanket and felt the rear leg he was favoring. No signs of anything broken or swollen, and I could move his leg, but any attempt to stand on it brough more pitiful cores of pain.

A similar thing had happened once before. We were at the park and Richard bounded up the stairs after visiting with his friends, to middle aged men who love him and give him treats. AS he topped the last step, he couldn’t put his weight on one of his back legs.  He limped for a few steps then seemed to walk it off.

This time, though, he didn’t.

Is it the same leg?  I wondered to m myself, wracking my brain for a clear vision of the memory. Nothing came.

I carried him to bed where I hoped that, after sleeping through the night, he’d be back to his old self. Every time he moved that night, he cried. Neither of us slept well.

The next morning, I was thankful for the six-foot leash I have because I was able to loop it around his back end for support when he went out for his morning constitutional. As we made painstaking progress down the sidewalk, I resolved to call the vet as soon as they opened to see if I could get him in. I was loathe to leave him alone when I went to work, but had no choice.

I called the vet and got a drop off appointment for the next day.  It meant I’d need the morning off because drop off hours are 8-10 and I couldn’t guarantee I’d make it to work on time. Then, I started my search for a sub. My favorite sub has been hired to teach half time in my building, afternoons only. Alas, she had her own appointment that morning. Knowing no one would take a half time job, I put in for a full day sub and contacted our secretary.

“Thanks for keeping me in the loop,” she replied to my news. “Did you ask J?”  J was hired in mid-September because of large class sizes in PE and 8th grade. She wasn’t even on my radar, but, when asked, she accepted.

Richard spent Wednesday at the vet, where his examination was inconclusive. As I had, the vet found no obvious injuries. They gave him some anti-inflammatories and suggested a sling for his hind quarters as an alternative to the looped leash. I ordered one when I got home, but also slit a cloth grocery bag at the sides to tide us over until the new one arrived.

Richard is walking on all four feet now. He’s still wobbly, so I continue to use the sling. He wants to jump up on the sofa or climb up on my bed, so I have blocked them off while I am at work. He looks at me with sad, confused eyes. In a few weeks, I hope he can have free range of the house again.


12 Oct

Despite a professional development day on Friday, Saturday morning found me grading papers. I’d intended to do the work the day before, but a new tool for scheduling conferences proved to be ore complicated than expected and 4:00 on Friday came before I’d finished the work I needed to do.

As I stared at the screen, a knock came at my door. Who could that be this early, I wondered as I peered trough the blinds. It was my neighbor, Sue, holding a rake.

As I opened the door she began explaining her dilemma with a simple, “There’s a squirrel on my porch.” It turned out it was an aggressive squirrel who would not leave despite the rake, and it was peering into her living room with malice it its heart. Sue needed help shooing it away.

“I have some squirrel issues of my own,” I said and explained about the vicious squirrels I used to encounter in Queen’s Park everyday as I crossed campus at U of T. But, two fraidy cats are better than one, so I put on some shoes and ventured out.

Standing before her porch, I looked for the wee beastie. He was under neither chair.

“I can’t see him,” I announced. “Maybe he left.”

“No,”she replied. “I see his head behind the chair.”

I raised my eyes and saw him. His little head poked up behind the chair that sat in front of the living room window. I reached for Sue’s rake and attempted to hook the chair leg. My first tug had no effect – on the chair or the squirrel. Realizing the chair was heavier than it looked, I tugged on the rake handle with both hands.

The chair moved.

The squirrel darted.

Sue and I screamed.

And then we laughed.

Booster Day

5 Oct

My first instinct was to judge the man who joined the line in the lower level of the Kaiser parking lot. There we were, a masked ribbon of humanity and this guy had the nerve to show up without a mask. He held a balled up hoodie over his mouth and nose, but still…

I took a breath and looked around to see if other people were giving him the stink eye. In that moment, my mind returned to a day a few months back when I showed up at Fred Meyer, intent on doing my grocery shopping. I stepped out of my car, pressed the lock button on my key fob and reached into my left pocket, where I always carry a mask, and found none.

I patted my back pockets and searched inside my car. Had I dropped it when I left the house, I wondered slightly panicked. My mind whirled as my heart raced. Should I go home and get a mask or just do groceries another day?

A heard the sound of car doors closing near me and the beep of a car locking. A couple about my age had parked not far from me. They wore those blue disposable masks. Dare I hope? Dare I ask? I opted to hope and dare.

“Good morning,” I said, maskless but warmly, as I approached them. “I seem to have left my mask at home. You wouldn’t happen to have an extra, would you?”

They sized me up for the briefest of moments, then the man said, “I think we do.” He turned, went to his car and brought me one.

The memory flashed through my mind in an instant, but that was enough time for me to let go of the judgement I directed towards the man. I continued to watch hime and noticed the anxious look in his eyes and the way he looked around. Was he worried people, like me, were judging him? When he reached the registration table, he took a mask from the box that sat beside the stack of clipboards and put it on. He seemed to relax.

I lost track of him as I was sent to the table for my flu and booster shots, but he has stayed in my memory, a lesson learned.

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