Six months after we were married, my cousin gave John and me a black toy poodle puppy. The puppy's mother was named Dolly. So, naturally, we named our puppy, Mame.
Eventually, we had two children: a daughter and two years later a son. Having been born into a doggy family, they took all dogs as friends.
One bright spring morning when Daughter was four years old, she begged to take Mame for a walk. John and I were pleased that she was picking up on an important family ritual. So, out she set: Mame on leash and two year old brother walking along beside her, under John's watchful eye. Our next door neighbor, doing a little gardening in his front yard, smiled as the adorable trio passed his house.
No one noticed when the woman who lived across the street from us parked her car in front of her house. She opened the back car door, letting out two dogs--herding dog mixes--to let them run up to her front door.
But they had seen Mame.
By this time, our little trio was two or three houses up the block. John took out at a run as soon as he saw the dogs streak in their direction. It didn't take 30 seconds for him to arrive and remove a limp, bleeding Mame from one of the dog's mouth.
Thirty-five years later, my hands are sweaty as I contemplate the full horror that might have befallen my beloved children that day.
John rushed Mame to Doc Weaver as I sought to comfort my terrorized children, all the while being overcome with guilt for placing them in such jeopardy.
Mame was in surgery for hours. She stopped breathing. She responded to resuscitation. A few days later we brought her home. She had an incision from her throat to her pelvis, another three quarters around her small body. There were stitches at her throat and on the back of her neck.
Kindly Dr. Weaver refrained from scolding us for the risk we had taken with our children. But he did caution us from taking Mame on walks. "There are too many loose dogs, and she is just too small." We took his advice.
Mame lived to be more than sixteen. Every time we took her to the vet's, Doctor Weaver's receptionist said, "That dog is a miracle." She was. But Mame's survival was not the most important miracle of that terrible day. The more important miracle was that our children were not bitten--or worse.