March is a crazy month.
You know- "in like a lion, out like a lamb?"
In the winter of 1994, I don't think there was one day that there wasn't snow on the ground. It NEVER melted. I think it was late April before we had any melt. But, there were some freak days.
March 13, 1994 was a freak day-in more ways than one.
On that day, it was unseasonably warm, 70 degrees!
It was so weird because there was two feet of ice-hard snow in our yard, yet the kids were out with their coats off. It felt like Spring, but it wasn't.
Our life was settling down. Becky was now eight weeks old, she wasn't sleeping a lot, but she was now a part of our family routine. The boys were helping more with Sparky, taking him for walks and making sure he had exercise. Sparky's leg was really dragging and it was time to decide what to do.
Here are some things I remember from that day:
We had ordered new chairs for our dining room and they were coming that afternoon. Marc was up in Connecticut on business. The boys did not have any sports after school. Michaela didn't have nursery school. It was a relaxing, low stress day.
After I picked up the boys from school and gave them a snack I asked Josh to put Sparky outside. I knew the delivery men would be there soon with the new chairs. Sparky was VERY protective and I didn't want any problems. Plus, it was so beautiful out, I thought Sparky would be fine on a line we had out near a dog run and doghouse in our backyard. I knew Sparky wouldn't last long because he only wanted to be near us and would whine and cry if we left him out too long.
The men came and delivered the chairs. Josh helped me unwrap them and check for any damages or defects. An hour had passed. I looked out the picture window and could see Sparky in his doghouse. I remember thinking, "Wow, Sparky's been so good today! He hasn't barked or whined yet." I decided since it was so nice out and he seemed happy I would leave him out a bit longer.
But then I noticed something. I called Josh over to the window. I said, "Josh, what is that red stuff on the snow around the dog house? Do you think that Sparky has been chewing on his boots?" ( they were red) he said, I don't know, I'm not sure I remembered to put them on."
Then as I went to nag him about how important it was to put the boots on Sparky, that he has been obsessively licking his paw... Sparky came out of his dog house.
HOLY SHIT!!!! His leg was gone!!!!
No lie. I started to hyperventilate. I had a baby on my shoulder, a boy who was obviously going into shock as it was the most gruesome sight you could imagine.
And, there was Sparky wagging his tail. No blood was flowing, but he was looking shaky and wobbly.
I ran to the phone and called my husband, who happened to have what we used to call a "car phone." I was hysterical. I said, " Marc, Sparky's leg is GONE!!" He's like, "what are you talking about?" I tried to calm down. He told me to call the police and they would help me get Sparky to the animal hospital.
And I did. They were there in minutes. Luckily it was the canine officer, who loved animals and was very sensitive, empathetic, and wise. As I was speaking to him I was putting blankets in my suburban to get it ready to transport Sparky, the officer asked me what I was doing and I told him. He looked at me like I was crazy. He said, "Patty, I've already called the Vet and he is on his way over. You can't transport that dog, in fact, I don't want you to go near him." I think I was in shock at that point.
Three Vets came to get Sparky. I felt so sorry for the poor dog. He was beginning to bark and I could tell he was scared as they approached him. But, they were able to give him a sedative and quickly bind the wound. We spoke for a few minutes and then they rushed him to the animal hospital.
Well according to the Vet, Sparky must have had no feeling in his leg up to his shoulder. And, due to the constant licking, when I put him out on that beautiful spring-like day, it was as if I had put him outside with a huge milk bone. Sparky didn't realize that he was chewing on his own meat.
And, what saved his life?
The vet said he must have been leaning out of the doghouse, onto the rock-hard snow. That ice kept him from bleeding to death. He hadn't stood up until he began to have feeling, that may have helped as well.
Three days later Sparky was home. He had many stitches and any excess bone was amputated.
He was fine.
I had nightmares and reoccurring flashbacks for months afterwards. It was such a shocking event and I had so much guilt. I felt like I should have known something would happen. I knew he didn't like to be away from us, did I leave him too long? I felt guilty that I didn't approach him with the Vets as I knew he was scared. I wished that we had amputated right after the accident so that this wouldn't have happened.
Josh was traumatized as well. He wouldn't let Sparky out of sight. I think Sparky slept on Josh's bed for years after that.
This all happened when Sparky was two years old, he went on to live many more years. He had plenty more adventures, not always good. But we think of him with love and fond memories.
Most of the time.