Speaking of Dog Days of Summer…

Let me preface this post by saying, MY DOG IS ALIVE AND WELL.

Imagine this: your dog has died in your home, and you do nothing about it for several hours. What sort of callous and uncaring person does that?

Apparently, I do. Because one morning last week, as I crept past the dog lying on the floor of my bedroom, I briefly contemplated that she was not breathing. And I did nothing.

Before you judge, let me explain.

The day before, Patty had been acting strange. This dog eats, and she would not eat breakfast. Not at seven in the morning. Not at nine-thirty. Not at eleven.

“She sniffs at the food and walks away,” Z texted.

“I know,” I replied.

Later that day—at one in the afternoon—Patty decided it was time to eat. And she did so, but not with her usual gusto. So much ran through my mind. Had she finally caught (and eaten) one of the chipmunks she chases? Were we seeing another repercussion of indulging in too many cicadas and cicada shells? Was it just one of those days? She wasn’t whining or acting sick, so I chalked her behavior up to an anomaly, and went on my way. And when we fed her dinner—at nine o’clock at night instead of her usual five—she ate just fine.

Then the next morning happened. As I stood there trying to figure out if she was breathing, my brain processed the information from the day before and sent one main message to me: You cannot handle this at five fifteen in the morning. Wait until seven thirty.

What would a little over two hours do? Give me time to figure out how to tell my youngest (the dog’s favorite person and the one currently away from our home) that something had happened to her. Give the vet time to open for business at seven thirty (any supposed crisis would have already passed; what’s the point in utilizing the twenty-four hour emergency vet?). Furthermore, two hours would let me settle my schedule, which was jam-packed with editing projects, appointments, visits with my parents, and phone calls for my parents.

So I grabbed my coffee, opened up my computer, and went about my day, pausing only briefly to recognize how inane my actions were. But as I thought about it later, once I’d confirmed that she was doing fine and back to her usual self, I realized that I had, for a few hours, moved into survival mode. The pandemic has effected me in ways that are still making themselves known to me, and my life has been filled with parental stress for the last few weeks especially (my dad went to the ER three times in three weeks). Sometimes, we do what we need to get by.

I told a friend about this episode a few days later. She looked at me and said the one thing I wasn’t expecting: “I understand completely.” We didn’t discuss it further because I knew she did.

But as always, I’ve learned something from this whole experience: I, too, have my limitations, even if I think I don’t; I don’t always make the best decisions; I might react to circumstances in ways I’m not proud of. The most important lesson for me, though, is this: extend yourself the grace you’d extend to others.

Now I have to go feed my ravenous dog . . .


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