November 13, 2006

Give Little Yippy A Spin

So, I’m in the card store looking for that perfect sympathy card for an old family friend whose wife died and I see a category of cards entitled “Sympathy-Pet.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. The picture on the front was a colored drawing of animals - a horse, a turtle, a cat, a dog, etc. - with wings, flying in the clouds. Like little animal angels. On the inside it said, “May the memories of your special friend remain with you forever. So sorry for your loss.”

Special friend? If you refer to an animal as your special friend rather than your dog, your cat, or your pet, you really ought to get out more and take in some human socialization. Also, if you spend money on and send a card like that, you are a serious enabler and should seek some counseling. But that’s just my opinion.

I’m reminded of the time I attended a family reunion. We were all getting together in honor of my great grandma, Lucy. She was well into her 90s, and someone figured we better have one last crack at getting five generations together before she died. And so we did. We were all having a marvelous time, eating, drinking, and laughing. Great Grandma Lucy was having a lovely time too, even though she had no idea who all these people were, or why they kept coming up to her, one by one, holding her hand, and talking to her like a child. Yes, five generations of a family. Quite impressive. Of course with all those people you know that at least one of them had to bring the family dog along for the festivities.

It was one of those little dogs. You know, the kind that thinks it's so tough when it chases squirrels. The kind with high-pitched, yippy barks that make you want to rip your ears right off your head and plunge hot pokers into the holes that remain. Such an adorable little creature. Well, my cousin Diane thought so, and so did her kids.

After having a nice picnic lunch on the lawn of the nursing home, Diane and her kids decided that, instead of talking to family members who had traveled far to be together, they would take Little Yippy across the street to the playground. Some of the other children went along also, to play on the jungle gym and to swing or slide. The rest of us did what we were there to do – shouting at Grandma Lucy so she could actually hear our explanations of how we were related, and catching up with other family members while grazing on left over brownies, cookies, and other various sweet snacks brought to the pot luck.

All of the sudden there was a blood curdling scream, followed by “Oh my God! Oh my God!,” and much wailing. Those of us on the nursing home lawn experienced adrenaline shock as we sprang up from our picnic benches to see which of the children had been impaled. There was a car on the road and the old lady driver and her equally old passenger were getting out, seeing the damage they had caused. It was the dog. They hit the dog. The little, yippy dog. We were all relieved that the kids were all right. But Diane was completely devastated, as were her children.

My brother walked over to the scene of the accident, and saw that the dog was still breathing, but not too regularly. He knew it would be dead soon, and stepped back while Diane and her screaming children got their grief out. Little Yippy listened to them bargaining with God to let her live, and then took her last breath. Diane and her children, as well as the other dumbstruck kids that were playing in the park, walked back to the nursing home lawn. Diane could not be consoled.

Meanwhile, my brother thought the dog should probably be dealt with and volunteered to take it to the town veterinarian’s office. He got a garbage bag from his car, and wedged the edge of the bag underneath Little Yippy in an attempt to not touch her (out of respect, I’m sure!). Little Yippy was flipped down to the bottom of the bag. Satisfied that the dog was safely contained, my brother gave the bag a spin, tied it up, threw it into the trunk of his car, and went on his way to the veterinarian’s office.

Whether Diane's incessant screaming was due to the fact that her Little Yippy was so stupid to wildly run into traffic, or that she had no control whatsoever over her precious little pet, we won’t ever know. What we do know is she threw a major wet blanket on what would otherwise be a pleasant family gathering on the nursing home lawn. Yes, the mood was certainly ruined, not by the death of a dog, but by the hysterics displayed by Diane.

Boyfriend and I were sitting at one of the picnic tables rolling our eyes over the theatrics Diane was displaying while my grandpa was shuffling with his walker behind us. Then Grandpa paused and turned to walk the other way. We heard him mumble, “I better not get too close to the road.”

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