It's just the most amazing thing to love a dog, isn't it? It makes our relationships with people seem as boring as a bowl of oatmeal."— John Grogan (Marley & Me)
Last week I received an email from a personal injury lawyer that I had met at a party a few months ago. He wanted to find out if I was ready to make a decision about the “dog attack” case. Did I want to proceed with pressing charges against the owner, or did I want to let it go because of everything I have going on in my life right now? Without any hesitation I emailed him back immediately. “I am ready to fight. You’re hired.”
It was a warm autumn evening, this past October of 09 and I had just returned home from another day tutoring on the set of a great television series called “Happy Town.” I was also in a fabulous mood because after a year of unfortunate distractions, I had finally completed the manuscript for my second novel, and had sent it off to be edited. Around 11:00 pm, I got my two out of my three dogs ready to take out for their evening walk. Charlie, my oldest, who you’ve already learned about, was now suffering from arthritis in his back legs and wasn’t walking so well anymore. He, sadly, was no longer able to join us for our evening walk. Lucy, my 14.5 year-old, had also been having some health issues lately. She was almost deaf and I’d noticed she’d become a bit lethargic over the past few months. However, she was still mobile and loved being outside. I attached the leash to my 6 year-old, Molly and she immediately grabbed on to Lucy’s, pulling her along as if she was walking her. Lucy’s leash is attached to a harness that goes around her body so that her neck doesn’t get pulled while she’s walking.
I drove up to the top of the street like I always do, in hope of avoiding the wild animals that had been plaguing my parent’s street lately because of the ravine there. I had seen way too many raccoons lately and I knew there was also a fox lurking around. I let my dogs out of the car and we began our walk. I barely made it ten steps, when I suddenly saw a huge German Shepherd off leash heading towards us. I had seen this dog many times before and it belonged to a man who had no control over it, even when it was on a leash. Tonight I did not see the owner anywhere. Within the five seconds I had before being pounced on, I grabbed Molly who was already jumping on me in fear. Lucy, who obviously could not hear or sense the dog coming, didn’t even know what hit her when the German Shepherd grabbed her. I lost my balance as I tried pulling her out of his mouth. He seemed to have her by the neck and was shaking her around as she cried out. Luckily my own cries were loud enough for someone in the apartment building to come out, and she immediately screamed for her husband to go get the dog’s owner, who was in his own apartment. I kicked and screamed at the dog and he finally threw Lucy off to the side, but as I ran for her Molly squirmed out of my arms and the German Shepherd grabbed her. Molly, got shaken a few times, but was fast enough to wriggle away and I finally had both dogs in my arms. The German Shepherd stood there just staring at me, as if I had just ruined his game. I was panting and crying and there was blood everywhere. I felt paralyzed over what to do next. The woman on the balcony was trying to coach me from above.
“Get your babies to the car!” She was screaming. The German Shepherd watched me as I ran for the car and managing to get my two dogs into the front seat of the passenger side and slamming the door. It ran over and blocked my side of the car, pacing back and forth in front of it. I begged it to go away. It just stared. Not once through this whole incident did it occur to me that I could get hurt too.
Finally the owner of the dog came running out and ran after it. I screamed a few profanities at him as I jumped into my car. Why had this dog been outside at night without the owner around? I didn’t have time to think of an answer to that, because I needed to get to the emergency vet as soon as possible. I screamed to the woman on the balcony that I had to rush the dogs to the vet. She said not to worry and they would be there for me for whatever I needed. I drove to the vet, crying to my parents on my cell phone about what happened. I told them that Lucy was really hurt and my mom said she would meet me there. When I got to the vet, they rushed Lucy in while I sat and waited with Molly. I called the police, who wouldn’t come take a statement because I hadn’t gotten hurt. Instead, they directed me to Toronto Animal Services, who of course were closed at that hour. I sat helpless staring at my blood stained clothes. The vet came out and told me that Lucy was going to need surgery. He sent us down to the VEC at Yonge and Bloor, where they had an anesthesiologist on call. Since Lucy was an older dog it was very risky to put her under. The vet at the VEC told us that Lucy’s insides were basically a mess. From all the shaking her intestines and other organs were now out of whack. He told us that we can try surgery to put her back together but it’s risky and expensive. He told us that considering her age she might not even make it through the surgery. I thought back to when I first got Lucy. The breeder, Joanne, was very hesitant to give her up. She wanted to keep her for herself because she knew she was a very special dog.
“I don’t know why,” she had said. “She’s just really special. I really feel strongly about it.”
That night I remember turning to my mom with tears in my eyes and telling her that I was not letting Lucy die like this. She deserved a chance. My mom agreed.
“Lucy is going to fight!” I told the vet. “Please do everything you can to save her.”
The surgery was scheduled for the morning when the anesthesiologist would be there as well as the head surgeon, Dr. Miller. We just had to hope she would make it through the night. To be continued….