I never had any intention of telling this story.
However, I somehow wound up telling it in the comments section on another blog I was reading, so I thought I could tell it here. Originally, I had thought to keep this to myself, because it’s not funny, not about writing, and actually, I still get weepy thinking about it.
If you’ve read the blog, I’ve shown you pictures of my dog, Francis. He’s an idiot, sheds a small mammal every day, somehow manages to get covered in mud in less than five seconds of being outside, destroys my sprinkler system at least twice a year, is very “chatty,” and has a penchant for eating everything. The Thanksgiving turkey. My daughter’s hair ties. Loaves of bread. My medication, which was, ironically, right next to a sandwich he elected not to eat. (As an aside, don’t worry about the dog. The vet assures me my medication is totally harmless.)
He’s also going blind, and we’re paying quite a pretty penny we don’t have for eye medication.
And despite all of this, I will do anything for this dog.
This story goes back four years, when my son was about three or four months old and I was still at home with him. At that time, he came down with this wicked cold. You know the kind. The ones where you pick up your child and come away covered in snot and other miscellaneous fluids I won’t detail here.
You get the idea.
Anyway, at some point, I decided to put him down for his afternoon nap. And because I was exhausted–having been up almost all night with him–I decided to take a nap too. I put the dogs outside, came upstairs and got into bed. It was bliss.
About an hour later, the idiot dog gave a long, single, really weird howl. I hadn’t heard anything like it. It wasn’t his “I’m bored” howl, and it wasn’t his “I hear an ambulance nine miles away” howl, either. And once he stopped, he was perfectly silent, which is unlike him, because he barks at everything from the wind to passing cars.
I stayed in bed for a few heartbeats and then bolted for my son’s room. I don’t know why, don’t know why I assumed something was wrong, but I did.
When I got in his room, the room was weirdly quiet, my son was perfectly still in his crib, and he was blue–and I mean blue–making a faint, gurgling sound so weak I couldn’t hear it until I was right on top of him. Those few seconds were the worst of my life, hands down.
I yanked him out of his crib and flipped him upside down and thwacked him on the back. The junk in his throat came up, and he threw up all over me and the floor, and I swear, I have never been happier to be covered in bodily fluids. I sank to the floor in a heap, he started to cry, but he pinked right up. I don’t remember crying at that time, but I’m sure I did, because I was seriously bawling by the time I got to the doctor’s office.
To this day, I can’t say for certain what the dog was howling about, but I can say I haven’t heard that sound since.
I hope I never do.