Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Plus 11

An alternate title for this post would be: How A Street-Wise, Mixed-Breed, Rescued Dog With Issues Helped Me Make It Through 9/11
The dog in question was Daphne, our first rescue. I always called her a Wheaten-Whippet, but she very well might have been a Wheaten-Greyhound. She was a Disney Dog, adorably scruffy, perfect for movies and advertisements. Perhaps she had been bred with that goal in mind. She was, after all, found wandering the streets of L.A. as a year old pup. Her adorable looks had been both her curse and salvation. Her looks proclaimed her Very Adoptable, so she was selected for rescue from L.A.Animal Control by the kind people of Pet Orphans of Southern California, located in Van Nuys. However, puppy time on the mean streets of L.A. had taught Daphne some pretty mean street ways, and her first two placements--who were really expecting a Disney Dog--fell through. When I saw her wonderful face, just pleading for John and me to drive up to Van Nuys and bring her home, she had been at the Pet Orphan's kennel for 2 years. She had not been happy to be kenneled. As the nice people at Pet Orphans explained, Daphne had issues. Talk about jumping in at the deep end of rescue! We brought Daphne home on a hot April Sunday in 2001. We had a steep learning curve. Daphne would fight another dog to the death for a tiny crumb of food. Lesson: Do NOT have another dog around in the presence of Daphne and food. Daphne was certain that noisy trucks and motorcycles were going to kill her, and so she would fight back with all her might. Lesson: Always take an ample supply of treats to stuff in her mouth during walks in case a truck or motorcycle was encountered. Daphne did not stop for screens if she saw something to chase outside. Lesson: Turn on the air conditioner. But Daphne also brought a joie de vivre with her that was contagious. Every morning, she woke me up, tail wagging, twisting side to side, saying, "It's a glorious day, Judith, and if you don't get up Right Now, you might miss one second of it and you won't want to risk that!" She also loved and really treasured her toys and tennis balls. Each morning, she would remove them one by one from their basket and during the day, she guarded them with love. On 9/11, John had left for work and I had gone back to sleep. Daphne was still asleep when the phone rang shortly after 6am, PDT. It was our daughter, who lives in Mountain Time. She was crying and close to hysterics. Which was only realistic for the mother of two little boys who was five months along with her third. "Mother! The twin towers have been hit! The Pentagon has been hit! Turn on the T.V.!" I really couldn't absorb what she was telling me. So I said, "I'm going to walk the dog first, and then I'll turn on the T.V." And that's what I did. As if I could somehow put off fate as long as I walked Daphne. But of course, we finally came home and I turned on the T.V. to witness the horror unfolding. I sat down and began to cry as I watched. In a little while, I felt a soft nudge against my leg. It was Daphne. She had brought me her favorite toy, a pink dolphin she had "chosen" on a trip to a pet supply store. "Here, Judith. Here is Dolphin. I've licked him as best I can and he always makes me feel better. I think he'll make you feel better, too." And on through the day, Daphne continued to comfort me with her toys. And when her toys were exhausted, she brought her tennis balls, one at a time. In times of trauma and fear, it is the little kindnesses that get us through. And for me, having a dog around at such a time is one of life's great comforts. Thank you, darling Daphne.

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