There are Two Kinds of Surprises

I got a bad surprise recently that has lead to a good sort of surprise. Here’s what happened:

One recent morning, I was pulling the trash bin to the curb for pickup when a large dog wandered straight up to me and stopped. He looked disoriented and lost. Our neighborhood listserv often has messages about people losing or finding dogs so I thought maybe I could help him. I started talking and cooing to him and reached over, fingers tucked in so he could have a sniff. Maybe I could see if he had any identification tag on the collar he was wearing.

Then, with a loud “woof,” he chomped down on my fist. Or, as Nora put it later: “Knuckles for breakfast!” i was startled, to say the least, but also bleeding from several spots on my hand. The dog took off and I cleaned and bandaged things and got the kids off to school. Speaking about it to my friend Tammy later that morning, she startled me again by saying I needed to get to a doctor immediately and will probably need rabies shots if I can’t find the dog. And, I need an antibiotic to deal with other possible infection from the bite. Seriously? Something about all of it reduced me to tears and pretty soon Tammy was picking me up to go to Urgent Care.

Yep, after that visit, a call from the head of the county health department, and a trip to the emergency room. It was true. I needed the rabies series, an antibiotic, plus a tetanus shot. There have been recent cases of domestic dogs in our county getting rabies because the owners let the vaccinations lapse and the dogs were bitten by some other rabid animal such as a raccoon or bat.

We still haven’t found the dog but have a gotten a recent lead, thanks to Nora posting some signs around the neighborhood. The rabies series takes two weeks and I’ll be done with it tomorrow. The side effects have made me nauseous and very tired the entire time but I hear the series is much better than what it was back in the day. So, shots in the stomach are no longer necessary, in case you were wondering.

Bad surprises aside, here’s how something good happened. The children have been begging to get another dog almost since the day ours died when we moved to Germany. Our promise to them was we would get another dog whenever we moved back to the US. So, ever since our return, the heat has been on to find a dog. For me, housebreaking and training a puppy is about as appealing as a getting a cavity filled with no novacaine. I’ve done both of those things before, by the way. I know exactly what I’m talking about! I thought the answer would be to get an adult dog and had visits with several rescue dogs. But, nothing was clicking for me. I love dogs but I couldn’t find a way to say yes to any of them.

So, a few days after the dog bite, I surprised myself and did the unthinkable: I got us a cat. It’s been unthinkable because I have been violently allergic to cats my entire life. I start sneezing and wheezing within moments of being around nearly all cats. Probably because of the this, my opinion about cats has ranged from dislike to indifference. Then along came Wolfie. When we moved into our house in August, Wolfie a large fluffy, black cat, made his presence known right away. He belongs to a house across the street but wanders the neighborhood at will. He lets Nora and Jack pick him up and march up and down the street, holding him like a baby; He follows me around the garden; greets me at my car when I pull up; and, naps on our front porch. Some of these traits could be a bit bothersome if it were a different cat. But in Wolfie, they are absolutely loveable. He changed me.

So, now we have a Cali, a Russian Blue that I adopted from a rescue. I didn’t tell a soul I was thinking about it and had her brought over while no one was home, so I could see if she really was hypoallergenic, as I’d read. She is! And, she’s also the sweetest animal I’ve ever encountered. Very fun too, and has the whole family completely charmed. The first thing Nora wanted to do was take her on parade in our neighborhood to show her off. So we did.

Cali, not so sure about this.

Cali, not so sure about this.

Victory lap around the neighborhood.

Victory lap around the neighborhood.


One response to “There are Two Kinds of Surprises

  1. Oh, El, I died laughing reading this…
    I can still picture your face scrunched up into a picture of disgust at the mere mention of a feline…. So glad you finally came around to loving BOTH cats and dogs, thanks to Wolfie.
    Sorry about the knuckle sandwich, though. Especially the whole rabies thing… Blech.
    When you’re ready to add a dog, consider a breed-specific rescue organization if you want known temperament w/o puppy training time. Often military bases are great places to find adoptable dogs that moving families must find good homes for, too. I’m sure someone would love knowing their furry child went to a home like yours.
    Welcome home, BTW. Glad to have you back in the States.

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