My English Setters were named Ollie and Zoie. They were gorgeous and they were in love. Setters run like the wind. Ollie was so strong he would sound like a race horse when he went by. Zoie moved more like a gazelle except for the tongue flopping from the smile.
As it is want to do, love soon became parenthood. Zoie with her puppies was amazing. Seeing what a dog family is like was fascinating. Ollie was an amazing father, truly involved in the process. From the moment she became with-child, he was intuitively uber-protective. When the puppies came he became the ultimate sentry. Not deterred by the fact that she wouldn’t let him near them at first, he would bring offerings in the form of toys or bones to drop in the pool – all to no avail. It wasn’t until he dropped his sacred tennis ball in the pool that she finally acquiesced. Once given access he became the cleaner/goalie. He would bathe them with his tongue and if there was a wanderer, he would nuzzle them back into play with his nose. For us, it was miraculous. Soon it was time.
The puppies had grown big and fat, and worst of all – teeth. Even though they were on ground puppychow and baby formula, they still wanted to nurse. Zoie would have to nurse them while standing up. They would sit underneath her, the fat little parasites, while she was just skin and bones. It didn’t matter how much she ate – which was non-stop – she couldn’t gain an ounce. When she couldn’t stand the pain anymore, she would leap from the pen for another meal. It was time for this to end!
Six of the eight went trotting off by way of gifts to happy families, much to Zoie’s delight! The other two stayed and we named them Maggie and Hemingway. We had always planned on keeping one of them. Maggie having successfully broken out of every containment facility contrived by this brain trust caused me to convince myself that Maggie, was too great of a criminal mastermind to release on an unsuspecting public. and so there were two and therefore, twice as much fun for us to laugh at and twice as much fun for each other. Now it’s very hard to think of one without the other – they balance each other.
As long as Ollie and Zoie maintained alpha status, things were peaceful. Truck rides remained parental domain. When the puppies were one year old, while running an errand, I decided to give Ollie and Zoie the break of their dreams – an adventure away from the kids. It was a beautiful, cool morning in spring. With one head out each back window and tails wagging, we were off.
A friend pulled into the driveway behind me when we got home. I got out of the truck. It was a hectic time as I was going through a divorce. We started a conversation; I only had to be distracted for an instant. The part where I open the back of the SUV and they leap – jowls flapping – off the tailgate never happened. It was a busy day, people were coming over.
When I found Ollie and Zoie, I attempted CPR, but it failed.
They were killed at home.
In their own driveway.
By the person they trusted most.
I can’t possibly ever forgive myself. I can’t ask for forgiveness, not even from God. This will be my burden to carry, I have accepted it. I can’t change any of this.
BUT I CAN TRY AND KEEP IT FROM EVER HAPPENING AGAIN!
Since this happened to me, I’ve learned this also happens to parents with infants and toddlers in car seats. In a March 2009, a Pulitzer Prize winning article was published in The Washington Post. Gene Weingarten wrote:
“In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician, a Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.”