"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Leaving his mark

Even if Murphy leaves and becomes a guide, I will always have a physical memory of his time here.
About six weeks ago, I was trying to exercise him on a long line in a groggy, nasty bug-induced state. Whether it was my haste, my innate clumsiness or the doping qualities of Robitussin, I failed to note the long line wrapped around my bare ankle before hurling Murphy's frisbee -- his favorite thing in the world.
In a word, ow.
I ended up with a neat 1/4 inch deep raw imprint of his line, about 3/4 inch wide, around two-thirds of my ankle. Within days, despite immediate washing and medicine, the wound had swollen and I had angry streaks of red halfway up my calf and down to my instep. I knew where that line had been, and so I wound up at the doctor for her to confirm that, yes, the wound was infected, and yes, I needed antibiotics.
Suffice it to say that visuals were considered and rejected for this topic. Six weeks later, and the thing is finally healed, but I suspect scarred for life. Right now it looks like a pink ankle bracelet. Thank goodness it's getting chillier and I have less opportunity to flash a bare ankle. I got lots of surreptitious looks.
I was thinking about it now, because I was thinking about how this nearly a year with Murphy has changed me, probably in a lot of ways that I don't even yet understand. I stitched a saying for Nina's 20th anniversary party: "Dogs leave pawprints on our hearts." And it really is true.
Murphy turned 1 on Sept. 15, and it's only sinking in how he has started to mature almost overnight. He still has his puppy moments, and he still is displaying stress in some situations. But I can actually start to visualize him guiding some day. And, more importantly, I think I'm actually reaching the point where I'm focusing on him, on us, and less about how I think he ought to be doing, or how I think other pups are doing.
"He will be what he is supposed to be," Nina said.
Dogs and Zen. Who've have thunk that Zen could come with so much chaos?


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