We all know that everything we’ve assumed can change quicker than an instant, the speed of recognition must be faster than the speed of light because there have been many times in my life when I’ve had precognition – realizing a change before it actually happens. The last time it happened vividly was when the Saints lost a playoff game on the last play of the game, I “felt” the loss before the ball was in the air. So, life moves pretty fast. But, any adult that’s had to ride some tough times, knows that the mind can handle any corner.
We have a puppy, well, he’s nine months old now, and he weighs fifteen pounds more than my 10 year old daughter, but he’s still a puppy, ask him, he’d love to chew the fat with you and talk about it. Chew anything.
I didn’t want him.
See, just about a year ago, I lost my “real dog.” I’d had him before I had the girls. He was my guy, a cross between a black lab and some chow, he looked like a mini-New Foundland. All fur and love, that was my dog.
But, last year we decided to move from my daughter’s beloved city in the Northwest where we lived right downtown. She loved the pace, and the ability to eat any of a million things, do a million things. She loved that the idea of a “majority race” was totally foreign to her, and she loved our neighbors, the lesbian couple she called her aunties, who let her garden with them. We moved from her beloved place, from all she had known.
We moved to the country, south Mississippi, about 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, off the interstate by 30 miles – deep south, deep country, to help my wife’s grandmother – alone now, she had no one else. The bribe to the little girl was that since we would be living out in the country and on a farm (trees), she would get what had before been just a dream – her own puppy.
Long story, but my old dog passed right as we moved here, almost as if he was saying, “this is your time now, I got you here. I’ve done my job, and now it’s time to move on.” In some ways I still mourn his death.
A month later we heard about a couple attempting to get rid of a six week old puppy, combination lab and Australian Shepard. I was in no shape to have a puppy, still heartsick over the loss of “my dog.” But, this wasn’t about me. It was about my daughter and a promise: “Get him,” I said, without a second thought, thinking it had to be the perfect mix.
Turns out, though, that this guy came into the situation a little confused about roles, and a preset view of the world and his role in it. He was bound set and determined to be the alpha dog in any setting – and he had the size to go for it, already 90 lbs, the vet says he’s not quite done. The alpha dog mindset worked against my wife and daughter, he would not allow himself to be bossed by either of them. It didn’t work with me. He and I came to an “understanding.” I was the “alpha dog,” but that meant he was MY dog, only, at least in his mind.
He follows me everywhere, chews everything, chases everything, kills turtles, birds, whatever he can catch – (he’s a farm dog) and thinks a leash is a torture device. He is still supposed to be my daughter’s dog, and she is in charge of feeding him and playing with him – but he looks me in the eye when he does so. I am very often frustrated with him. As I said, we have an “understanding,” a “detente.”
Yesterday was a weird day. This site has been growing at an “almost-too-good-to-be-true” pace, and since we’re paid per page view, it makes a difference one can feel. But, last Tuesday, out of the blue, Facebook canceled our account, undoubtedly as part of a crackdown on “fake news.” They went straight at the title on Facebook (which was The Trump Impeachment) and discerned it to be fake news, no matter how real we were, and how seriously we take our jobs. Overnight, our numbers – and thus our money – was cut by two thirds to three quarters.
So, without as many articles to write while we fight with Facebook, I was outside, catching up on some lawn mowing. We have acres of grass, the primary areas, and then “brush area” extending out, that I also mow. Our lawn mower had been in the shop for weeks, the outer brush was thick. It was also cooler yesterday, cloudy, high in mid 80s instead of the upper 90-100 heat index normally found in just off the Gulf.
I had the shirt scared out of my shorts at about noon, when mowing through the tall grass. I was re-doing a section on “low” beside an area that I’d just mowed on “high.” As I barreled along in my powerful riding mower, a big water moccasin came barreling right at me from the side, undoubtedly confused by the vibrations, undoubtedly scared to death, moving FAST along the top of the grass – which put him at about flip flop level where I was mowing.
I lifted my feet in terror. THAT stopped the lawn mower! With the mower suddenly stopped, the snake dove down between the wheels and he popped up on the other side into the short grass that had been cut tight. We farm 180 acres of pine trees, and have a half mile long bass lake on the property, it is poisonous snake central headquarters USA, copperheads, water moccasins/cottonmouths (same snake) Timber rattlesnakes and the dreaded Eastern Diamondback, the biggest, most aggressive and most poisonous snake in the U.S. They have conventions here. I’ll leave them alone if they’re out in the trees. That’s their spot, where they’re supposed to be, I don’t bother them. When they’re near where my daughter and puppy play, well, that’s my spot, and unlike the bass, there’s no catch and release policy. Nature is brutal, too. I wheeled my mower around and under he went. I wasn’t happy to do it. I don’t like to kill. But, safety matters.
As I tried to get my heart beat under 100, realizing how close I had just come to having a water moccasin bump its nose against my flip flop, I also figured out that obviously the snakes would be on the move today, the mower going over the tall grass, the time of year – getting closer to fall, no babies left, the moderate temperature, and that I’d best be careful.
Later in the day, I had just finished up the last bit that I planned on doing for the day, I noticed “Sky” – the puppy – running along to see me, but going through some of the grass I leave long. I yelled to get out of there. I had to sweep some of the mulch that accrued near the shop, and did some circles, and then put the mower in the garage of the shop and closed the door. I looked out to the grass in front of the shed and saw the puppy and the old farm dog, side by side, sitting looking at me. I knew instantly something was very wrong.
My alpha dog didn’t look alpha at all. He looked like a scared little boy. And, the old farm dog – the tiny old girl that thinks he’s a pest, was sitting right beside him, like she wanted me to be certain, something was wrong with her baby, towering over her. I started to walk toward him, he tried to come to me, but had a bad limp in his right front foot. I took his paw and looked for a nail or needle, nothing. Then I noticed it was much bigger than his other paw. I looked closer, I could see two tiny scratches through his fur, fang marks. Snake bite.
In that instant, my alpha dog that spent his life proving he was my equal looked at me with total helplessness. Please help me. Off came my shirt, into a tourniquet, tied just tight above the paw, yelling at my wife to get the vet on the phone (it was 5:30 p.m.), luckily my wife reached someone, and the vet said she’d meet me at the clinic in town – 15 minutes away. I had to carry my baby to the car, and I brought my daughter to hold him in the backseat. I kept looking back and seeing his paw getting bigger.
We made it to the vet’s office, she said given the size of the swelling, and the location, (paw one of the worst places to be bit, because it swells and splits, causing secondary infection, pain), she recommended using the anti-venom. A dog his size would survive a copperhead bite, easy. But, a water moccasin in the right location, or worse, a Diamondback could kill him. It was $650 just for the anti-venom.
We don’t have much money, and a small part of the income we had is now being cut way back …
“Yes, please, just get it in him.” The edema from the swelling was already pooling under his foot. He was crying. She took him out the door, that’s the last we saw him.
As of this morning, he is doing “okay” – we don’t know what that means. We suspect it means that he’s still in a ton of pain, but will not die.
No, this is not a “Save my puppy, read our website” plea. Not really, anyway. It is a reminder as to how quickly life can turn, and how badly we need others. In a splice of a second yesterday, I had a snake turn down when he could’ve turned up – putting him near the wheel of the mower rather than the web of my flip flop. Our website had been growing at a rate that amazed us, but some algorithm at Facebook has determined that we need to lose as much money (percentage-wise) as they have lately. A dog that didn’t need anyone to boss him around, the pack leader, the big dog, suddenly becomes just a scared puppy, all in a passing moment – only the intervention of others saved his paw (which swelled so fast it had to be on its way to splitting). Oh, and perhaps just one witness from the Trump campaign, maybe Omarosa with the right tape, can end a presidency.
Life moves fast, which means you better corner well. My little pup knew enough to cut the tough guy stuff and come to me for help. I also know that many people had worse days yesterday. Some parent learned their real baby had cancer, someone lost a real loved one, someone’s dog died – everything is relative. Whether the site does well or not, life will go on, and we all have talent that is sought out elsewhere. Things will be fine.
But, we are proud of what we’ve built. We know enough that we have a solid core group of readers here who are extremely loyal, and I’d like to ask that you help us spread the word, share the website. We have deep pride of ownership in our writing, and the causes for which we write. We don’t want to lose such a huge percentage of what we’ve built due to Facebook, or any face, or any book.
Pass alone our links to your friends, let’s make Facebook irrelevant (there’s a dream!).
Speaking of dreams, one would think that I’d have had nightmares about snakes last night. No. Actually, I slept well and had my normal strange, but not scary dreams. The dreams this team has, the dreams that come while wide awake, are as big and vivid as ever.
I’ll let you know about my puppy, he’s too obnoxious and bull-headed to let such a little thing hurt him – but you gotta check the website. 🙂
Follow me on Twitter: @MiciakZoom, where especially on Weekends, we talk politics, bass, puppies, dolphins, hockey, Zag basketball, and anything YOU want to talk about!