I got the voice message the morning of November 9th. That day is, for now, emblazoned in my mind. “I can’t find him!” Those were the only words that I could understand through the panicked tears trying to tell me what had happened. Fear ripped through my heart and my breath stopped for a second. WHY hadn’t I taken my phone with me when I went out for my morning walk? HOW could I have missed this call? WHY was on the mountain and not there to help?
When I regained some composure I called back to hear my wife explain that she and our fur babies were attacked on their morning walk by a neighbor’s dog who came out of their house, ran across the yard, into the road, and to the other side of the street to get to them. My wife tried to protect our three kids by getting in front of them and trying to pull them back; while they tried to get in front to protect her. She sustained multiple bites while trying to protect and defend. What had happened next is now the worst day of our lives.
Our 10 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Roddie; became the target. The dog went around my wife and grabbed Roddie by the back leg and clamped down. The owner had to pry his mouth off of Roddie and when he did that Roddie bolted. In his panic and pain, he ran down the road and down our driveway. For a brief moment, my wife was relieved thinking he was headed home. As the neighbor had to hold his dog back so he wouldn’t continue to attack; my wife and the kids ran after Roddie. She couldn’t believe that when she got to our porch; he wasn’t there. She put the girls in the house and took off through the woods. As she got to the end of the easement ….he had vanished.
I can’t explain how we survived the next agonizing 24 days without our boy. We followed every lead. I stayed awake at night, until my body betrayed me; with porch lights on, gates opened, watching the doors for his face to look back at me. Our tribe, known and unknown surrounded us. We collectively walked the woods multiple times, in freezing rain and frigid temperatures, put up signs, went door-to-door handing out flyers; trying to hear his bark. We hired pet communicators, trackers and a friend paid for drones to fly over. We put an ad in the paper that we kept running, and our local radio station picked up the story. We bought more duck tape and clear tape and poster boards than I have in my whole life, our friends pitched in to make copies of flyers and buy more poster board and make signs. A friend offered his online ad spot to us and a dear soul created an online ad that would flash up anytime someone googled an animal site. We started a GoFundMe page that demonstrated the Compassion in Action and Generosity of loved ones, friends, and strangers which also included financial support by friends and family personally. ! I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t rest, and my new business and all social engagements stopped. Collectively, it was #BRINGRODDIEHOME. That became our facebook community and WOW did they love and pray our boy home!
He is now home; safe, loved by his mommas and fur sisters and loved and supported medically by his first momma; who was his breeder and is now his vet. He lost at least 20% of his body weight; our first weight on him was not accurate to his inability to stay still. Flight mode takes a while to release. He is unpacking his trauma every day. He was different when we found him; eyes that looked right through you, covered in feces and stench, more skittish, exhausted, skinny, fragile, unable to stand for long periods of time, falling off his back end and his skin infection was so massive that even after several baths; a slight smell still lingers, a major slash across his neck signified the effort he made to leave the place he was tethered and ligaments around his original attack on his back leg was weak.
Roddie, and most animals, adjust to trauma much quicker than we humans. Every day he is more confident and the pack readjusted and is more comfortable. Roddie is eating well, is gaining pounds incrementally and has regained some strength. He still sleeps alot and is still on medication, albeit less, and doing laser treatments to heal his neck and his ligaments. All and all… we see improvement every day as he continues to sigh deeply and unpacks and releases his trauma.
The mommas are finally able to incrementally reclaim our work, our social lives, our home, and our schedules; while living with the trauma. Trauma just doesn’t go away when the storm is over. We are learning to live past the trauma and to adjust to a new normal that may stay new or gravitate back to the old way. Our main goal now is to offer love and stability to the pack and loving patience to Roddie so he is free to heal on his time schedule. We assure him that he is loved through all of it; no matter how long it takes. Our trauma comes in various forms. We have nightmares, find ourselves avoiding the place of the trauma, preparing for future threats, being over protective, and a desire to circle our wagons and stay to ourselves because, we have always felt safe here; and now, there has been a breech in our belief that we can protect our fur babies from threats.
I believe in the power of love and that love came to us abundantly from our community, our friends, and our loved ones. So we push back against the trauma because we have been bombarded with loving and supportive messages, calls, and on the ground support. Instead of staying circled behind the wagons, we have let people in and that is how we made it through this. Not alone and not by ourselves, we are still standing because we have been hugged, loved, and prayed through this experience that will leave us different. That difference is knowing that there are WAY more Angels around us than evil.
I thank God for that; as well as St. Anthony, St. Francis, and St. Rita who did God’s work as they were sent to do on Roddie’s behalf.