Quote of the day: Blest be the tie that binds. — Fawcett
All my life, I’ve seen the father-son bond, the adult-infant connection, from afar. Never having married, I’ve envied the man who’s experienced what it’s like to be a father.
When I was 44, I got my dog, Woody, from the shelter. He was only a year and a half old.
Because Woody has always been well, I’ve enjoyed the perks of being a dog owner. But when man’s best friend suddenly gets sick, (and perhaps it isn’t until he does), that’s when you feel like a parent.
Two years ago, Woody suffered his first major health scare – a sudden attack of vestibular disease, a middle ear disorder. His eyes shifted back and forth uncontrollably, causing him disorientation and constant wobbling. All I knew at the time was that he looked like he was dying.
That night, Woody wouldn’t rest. He was panicked, hyper, trying to stand without success. I wished peace for him, that he might find comfort. The hours seemed like days. Then I realized how fatigued I was and wished for some rest of my own – all part of pet responsibility.
I took him to the vet first thing in the morning. She diagnosed him with the vestibular problem, gave him shots and fluids, a tranquilizer as well. It was all about Woody and the doctors. I felt helpless having little more to do.
Sedated, Woody needed to be carried from the vet’s office to my car. After all these years, I suddenly realized I had never done this before! Trying to carry my fifty pound friend on my own, I was afraid I was doing it wrong, or was hurting him, so I asked the attendant to help me. Sliding my arms under his front and back legs, I cradled Woody’s limp body up against my chest. Feeling his warm body against mine was a sensation I’d never had with him. I was carrying something in my arms that so needed me, and had for so long. This connection was primeval. It was good to feel part of humanity in a way I never had.
The next day, Woody was better, but still wobbly and groggy. As he teetered left and right, he was nonetheless able to right himself. But he needed me to help guide him along. I felt a little like a father walking his son for the first time, holding his toddler’s hands above him, letting him take his first baby steps.
As the day goes on, neighbors come to ask where Woody is, saying they’re concerned that he’s all right. I never knew they cared so much. I reassure them he is getting better by the hour.
Two days later, with Woody back to normal, I finally relax – I’ve got my family back.
Woody lived another two years as an active, happy dog. After passing away recently, what lived on was my eternal thanks to him for having given me my own sense of family and the joys one brings to all.
In the end, is there anything better than a pet?