Saturday Night in the Animal ER

When last we met, our intrepid hero John was paying a Friday night visit to the emergency room with his father, seeking assurance that Dad’s heart pains were not cause for alarm. They were not, paving the way for fresh adventure!

Feeling as though the snapshot of humanity he saw Friday night at the ER was insufficient, John spent Saturday evening at the emergency animal hospital while doctors there tended to his beloved pooch Sadie after her cruel and untimely victimization by an untethered hound.

OK, I’m making fun here, but the weekend pretty much completely sucked from about 4:45 p.m. Friday through 8 a.m. Sunday. It has had moments of improvement since them, but it still sucks.

Sadie and I out running Saturday evening at dusk, past a thrift store parking lot about a mile from the house, assholes there hanging out in the parking lot with two dogs. The whole thing was over in an instant – big bad dogs jumped Sadie, Sadie went down, big bad dog sank its teeth into Sadie’s right shoulder (going for the throat but thankfully missing), I kicked big bad dog off cowering Sadie while the second dog orbited thinking this was some sort of game. Someone tried to apologize, John yelled very bad word in describing bad dog and suggesting that perhaps tethering it might be wise in future.

It wasn’t until we got home that I realized how badly Sadie was hurt. The big wounds were beneath her fur, and they were punctures so they weren’t bleeding a lot. But they needed to anesthetize her at the doggie emergency room in order to shave, clean and stitch her and put in a drain, so she had to spend the night.

When we picked her up this morning, she was still woozy from the anesthetic, but she wouldn’t lay down, she just sort of wandered around the house like a stumbling drunk. She’s finally sleeping, hard and sound. She’s an ugly bloody mess.

Too many stories in the doggie ER – the woman with a Jack Russell trying to give birth, but a puppy was stuck (and the woman’s too-cliched cowboy husband making macho jokes that were embarassingly insensitive, and the woman’s baby in a car seat, almost an afterthought), the quiet mother with her son and a listless cat in a sort of big Tupperware bin (“Mom, where’s my book,” the boy says, finally walking over and grabbing it out of her purse), the guy with a big black lab that had been hit by a car, but he had no money, couldn’t pay, and the sad conversation that followed. And then the elderly couple this morning, when we came to pick Sadie up, the women red-eyed like she had been crying, or hadn’t slept, or both, paying the final bill and making arrangements for the cremation. That was the saddest moment of all, yet there was warmth in the exchange: The clerk explained at the body would be sent to the company that does the cremations, the woman wanted some some reassurance that the company was, I don’t know exactly, “good” or “reputable.” “They’re great,” the clerk told her. “They’ve dealt with a couple of animals of mine.” It was a little moment of extraordinary humanity.

The bike ride seems almost like an afterthought, but it was as fine as a bicyle ride can be. Jaime and Steve are coming up on their respective Ironman races, so they both needed to spend six hours on the bike today. I had no such intentions, so they started at Jaime’s house, rode the hour to my house and picked me up. We headed east into the canyon and up through the mountains over Tijeras pass. It’s a weird sort of pass, without an obvious top, but rolling up along old Route 66 we finally hit the point where you can look east and see beyond the mountains. It is where the mountains end, and the great flat middle of the central United State begins. It was a perfect fall day – warm enough for shorts and short sleeves, but cool enough to be perfectly pleasant. The wind was from the west – a tailwind up the canyon as we climbed, a brisk headwind coming back down. Those canyon winds are notorious among local cyclists, and this was the perfect sort of day for that particular ride, the sort of day for which bicycles were invented.

Coming back down into the wind, we flew. I took one turn at the front, but basically Jaime, who is the strongest, did all the work, bulling into the wind as Steve and I tucked in behind. You can see in Jaime’s body language when the noodling is over and the serious riding begins, and at that moment you have no choice but to latch onto his back wheel or say goodbye.

That descent was a moment, however long it lasted (a half hour to get down through the canyon? I’ve no idea, no earthly idea), of perfect concentration, meditative, nothing left in my mind but the flood of immediacy that the ride itself presented. This is why I ride.

Oh, and did I mention our DSL has been down all weekend? Did I mention this weekend sucks?