Dog Rides, Dog Souls

I forgot much of what I barely ever learned of the coyote underbelly of N. Snottsdale, with Kila an already old-dog who mostly wanted to nose around for 2-3 miles max. Long gentle miles coasting, thinking, smiling and pondering, not on the trainer not in a room, same calories while absorbing every inch of my realm with much better company than Netflix. Dog rides are not about hammering or vertical or gnar, though we approve of all these things. Dog rides are seeing shadows, silences, sniffs and snoops, the affects and affectations of suburban whether and wild illusions. There are many dark corners and natural corridors, its been a while since drifting through them was an almost-nightly ritual.

Dog rides are not hard, but they don’t need to be easy. Dîa doesn’t want them that way. Tequila Tree, 98th St. Wash, the golf course, Horizon Park. We like our choices. A lot. They are extremely child-compatible or as heart-pounding as I want. Running with my pack again, to the library, the school, this cat in a littledog’s body, this brilliant beast, lithe and learns like she does everything else: fast!

I am thinking about a new tattoo:

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We were out for an hour, more than our 10th but less than our 20th ride, a noncomittal range like the girls you slept with or how many times you tried coke. The still-novelty proved prescient, the last 2 miles 500 feet down, where she lingered just in front of my wheel, so either could wreck the other, and didn’t let me pass. I loved the intimacy, but was frustrated by the confinement. I wanted to rip it, small dh as it was, take a sip of thrill out of another perfunctory commitment commuting my children. She resisted a bit when i leashed her 25 yards before we came out of the desert onto the sidewalk. How just like a dog, transitioning from off-leash to leashed. Selfish damn dog. We rolled onto the sidewalk, she was still elsewhere, still selfish, still a puppy, still so vulnerable. She darted in front of my wheel, flashed across and under it, i sensed impending carnage and for a beat hesitated thinking “you’re gonna get a lesson now, Dia“.

We both did. I went over the bars, she was screaming. Not a yelp getting smacked by a wheel and tumbled in the dirt, but the insuppressible shrill of a dog who must have broken her leg. Oh fuck oh fuck, as i pulled up from my digger, oh fuck she’s screaming I’m gonna see her broken leg, I’m gonna see her twisted back. I saw her twisted tail in the wheel and lacerated by the rotor, cleaved almost all the way through, with three fractures. Tendons rolled up like pink rubberbands, bones glowing pale. This is what i am seeing. I am seeing this, wrapped in the wheel, i am seeing this and need to do something, now, my dog is knotted into my bike and her tail is severed.

I reached for her, she attacked me, grinding my hands when i drew for the wheel. I shrieked back at her stop biting me STOP BITING ME, she gnashed me again. I went for the release on the thru- axel, which spun and spun but did not grab its threads. I went back to the other side of the wheel, Dia snapped and snarled and ripped at me more, while i struggled at the wheel and ripped at her more, rotor stuck in her, tail wrenched and broken, dog weighs less than my bike getting wrenched around from behind.

I flailed with the axel again, braced for the attack on my hands, someone appeared and I yelled at her to not get mauled. She yelled at me, I yelled at her, more shredding to my hands, Beckie, someone had a pliers. I finally got the axel out, the woman grabbed the handlebars while I screeched “PULL HARD!!!!”

The dog stood up, frozen, shocked still. I collapsed on her and cried. I’m so sorry Dia, I’m so sorry. For just one fraction of one second i was selfish at you, I could have stopped this, and I am so so so sorry.  Then there was a long awkward awkwardness. The bystanders were creeped out. Beckie had gone home, looking for a toolbox, unaware one of the good samaritans was the Notre Dame HS maintenance man. No one quite wanted to load the bloody dog into their car. My phone wouldn’t work with gristle and gore all over my fingers, i numbly apologized for the belated arrival of my wife, and some of my random f-bombs. Much more surreal than this freak accident after 20 yrs of riding with dogs.

Beckie said from when i first called to when we were in the car heading to the Emergency Vet was 14 minutes. Seemed longer. The taking of Normandy Beach took like 20 minutes, as per Saving Private Ryan. She doesn’t seem to hold the 14 minutes against me, just like i didn’t complain about my tenderized hands. But getting the wheel off her was terrible.

Animal urgent care provides amazing facilities for a first-world dog, but didn’t have so much as a cotton ball for my ragged wrists. I slumped in the waiting room and bled, signed forms, wiped off their pen. Kids Club Soccer has made me realize that when coaches say ‘this might happen‘ what they really mean is when the Vet says ‘this is probably going to happen‘. And your dog is definitely going to lose her tail for the cost of a semester of college.

I am just so glad you are home.

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I know your ass is so very itchy, and when I feel bad for you or me we will cowdog up. I will stuff your antibiotics in cream cheese and cover your pain-killer in bacon grease, and laugh as you squeeze the e.collar through the dog door and under the bed and crash your bar-ends into the walls as you stumble thru the house. We will cowdog up.

I did some bike work. this is what a rotor looks like when it messes with a dog’s tail.

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yeah Dia, you kicked that rotor’s ass! that muthafuggah is NEVER gonna spin again. booyah!!!

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this is what a dog’s tail looks like when she messes with a rotor

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Everyone keeps saying ‘freak accident‘ and ‘not your fault‘, but my guilt will never go away.  I’m an expert mountain biker and I put her and my kids into positions where I’m the one who keeps them safe. By definition: hubris. I will never be selfish with her, with them, on the bike again. Nunca mas. Wisdom is redemption. Wisdom is redemption.

12 days of lampshade turned into 3 weeks of not riding, wondering how Dia would handle it. The first 30 seconds she was right back in front of my wheel, i was towing a trailer and it might as well have been a freight train vs. Dia’s 25lbs. I panicked, jacked the brakes, wanted to bail. My left arm found my hip and Dia’s 25lbs were off the port bow. And after 200 yards, it seemed like she even wanted to be there. Then it stopped, we skated, and headed back.

The next ride she blasted a mile 6 feet to my left, mostly listened to me, but would not come the moment i let her offleash. I ignored it, there were two owls hooting down at us as we rolled through the golf course.

they look like this to us
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we look like this to them
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I rose goggled the dysfunction.  Dia ran from me at the trailhead, hid behind the bathroom, peed when i leashed her and pulled as we rode off.

Two nights later we set out for Tequila Tree. Dia peed in the garage, then 100 yars away ditched me and ran for home. She peed in the driveway, then .5 mile later ditched me ran through a neighborhood across Bell Rd. and home. She peed in the driveway and I rode her slowly a mile up the road and down the 104th St. trail into the McDs. She seemed happier when i took off her leash, and trailed me for 2 miles until I got off to walk a 20 yard stretch. Then she was gone.

I found her an hour later. 10ft off 200 yards from the 104th St. TH right where i let her offleash. I was there 30 min before, so were the kids when they came looking for her, when I circled back down the lower trails and back up the road, calling. I was calling, unmistakeable in my light, and only saw a glint to double back and find her. Terrified in the dirt, not responding. I’m just so glad you’re home.

And then this happened.

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things we did different this ride: fluffed Dia with proclamations of eternal devotion, rode in daytime, licked her face, rode with children with busy hands that like to scratch and praise, rode the Firebird — maybe Dia just hates 29ers? Gave her bites of leftover Pollo Loco every 10 min from the moment we stood in the garage.  She pood, she stayed in her space, she was magnificent. I gave her more chicken, the girls are, sorta, capable of selfless love. So good ride, we needed it.

 

3 Comments

  1. Wish I could find something soothing and healing that would make the whole incident instantly go away. But since I can’t, I have to agree with the tlc you are providing to get her past the terrible memory. As I said when we spoke, I’m not surprised to learn how she is reacting; people do the same thing after a traumatic event. Just keep pouring on the love. It’s what both of you need.

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