A few days ago, my father and I were sitting in my living room waiting on my mother to finish a few e-mails in my home office.  Cosette and Trooper were engaging in their usual acrobatic ballet of dog-on-dog play, you know the kind where Trooper levitates and bunny hops and Cosette pulls off ninja-worthy feats.  It is a sight to behold. I don’t know how it happened, but one minute I was watching the two of them play – not aggressively, just rough – and then the next minute there was blood. 

Oh, the blood.  Drips on the carpet, on the coffee table, on the walls, there is a moving dog mass and there is chocolate and black fur and blood and I am moving off the couch, stunned, it’s all in one smooth motion.  The blood seems to be coming from Trooper and I grab his collar and drag him towards the glass storm door.  I let the outside light stream down, trying to ascertain where exactly the bleeding is coming from.  I tell my father to bring me paper towels from the kitchen, and I bring Trooper outside to the front porch.  At first I think it is an eye wound, as there is blood pooling in the corner of his eye, but I wipe it away and it doesn’t return.  I wipe his nose, his back, the blood is all over.  I hold him still, as still as a Lab puppy can hold, and then look at myself.  I’m covered.  My green Capri pants have blood splattered all over them, I have a line of blood on my white shirt, and my arms and legs are smeared in red.  Am I the one who is bleeding?  How did this happen?  I start to feel light-headed, intensified by the sun. 

Then I notice it:  drip, drip, drip on the pavement.  I look back down at Trooper, looking closely for the origin of the drip.  It’s his ear.  Is it torn?  Where is it coming from?  Did he rupture his eardrum?  Why is there so much blood?  I wrap a paper towel around his ear and pull it back to see where the blood collected.  I finally am able to see where the bleeding is coming from – it’s the tip of his ear.  I press the paper towel firmly into his ear, allowing direct pressure to help stop the bleeding.  Once I’ve held the towel tightly for a few minutes, wriggling right along with him, I pull the soaked paper towel back and examine the wound.  It’s so tiny I can’t hardly see it.  It’s a nick.  A flesh wound.  A little scrape.  A tiny itty bitty thing that might make you reflexively pull back in slight pain but a pain that vanishes momentarily.

“This?”  I say to myself.  “This is what caused all the bleeding?”  I examine the blood-soaked bunch of paper towels, frowning at the mess.  My father helps me spray off the front porch and soak Trooper in cleansing water.  With all the little blood vessels in the ears, I guess the bleeding is as severe as a head wound in humans. 

I remember back to a time when I was first babysitting, 11 or 12 maybe.  I was babysitting some kids across the street from my house and the youngest boy was roughhousing with himself, no less.  He somehow contorted his body with enough force and dexterity to whack his head against the corner of the brick fireplace, and blood immediately poured from the wound.  I had enough sense to bring him into the tiled kitchen and off the white carpet – I am my mother’s daughter after all – and bring a towel in one hand and a phone in the other.  I shakily phoned my parents across the street as I sat with this screaming mess of a child, pressing the towel firmly against his head, his older brother looking on.  I don’t really remember much else, except my mother and father coming over and such an overwhelming feeling of relief that responsible adults were there – AND my father was trained in safety and emergency procedures.  

I crave the same feeling of safety and relief as I hold Trooper in my arms, the paper towel still soaking up blood.  I look to my father for advice, but at this point I know what to do.  I just keep holding him still until the bleeding subsides, and then I take him back inside and put him inside his smaller crate so he can remain calm and still.  I proceed to the bathroom, gazing in wonder and slight horror at the sight before me:  my hair askew, blood splattered on my clothes and arms, my feet, legs, my face, all the way up into my hairline.  

I wash up, and I hear Trooper in his crate, slightly whining for attention and settling himself in for boredom.  I can only imagine what he’s trying to say in earnest, “Come back here!  It’s only a flesh wound!”

I peek my head back into the room where Trooper is staying and say, “What are you going to do, bleed on me?”

I think I heard him return, “We’ll call it a draw!”

 


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