That attitude lasted as far as Tigard, OR where we made a stop for dinner. We pulled into an empty Burger King parking lot and got out to stretch our muscles. It was then that I made a monumentally bad decision. I decided that since we were parked right next to a flower bed and there were no other cars around, I would let the dogs out for a quick potty break…without their leashes. Things went just fine until the boys ran inside for their own potty break. That’s when the dogs ran after to join them. What transpired next didn’t happen in slow motion exactly but I was completely helpless to stop anything. All I could do was stand there and watch. As we realized the dogs were trying to follow the boys, Howdy and I both hollered for them to stop. They turned to run back to me but then Romeo (my Yorkie) stopped as he saw a car turn into the parking lot. Rocket (our half Chihuahua/half Schnauzer who is definitely the kids’ dog) never even slowed down. He ran full out for me, right in front of the oncoming car. I watched as the car that was turning into the parking space ran over my dog with his front tire. Rocket yelped and tried to scramble out of the way but he wasn’t fast enough. He was run over by the back tire as well which actually left tire tracks on his fur. Amazingly enough, he got up and ran over to me. The driver got out and asked if Rocket was okay and I said I thought he was. Satisfied with that, the man went in and got his burger.
I checked Rocket out and I could see some scrapes on his foot but no other obvious injuries. Then he threw up. And he peed–and it turned pink, then red. As I watched, his lower abdomen bulged out and I knew we were in trouble. The kids were freaking out a bit but they felt better when they saw Rocket seemed okay. They had no idea that I was now thinking internal injury.
It was after 7pm, I had a dog who needed immediate medical attention and at that moment, I didn’t even know what city we were in. Luckily, the restaurant had Wi-Fi. Rocket managed to get into the van on his own and I settled him in on a blanket before grabbing my laptop and herding the kids inside. I looked up a 24 hour vet, called for directions and then we drove the 15 minutes to the office. I kept petting Rocket the whole way there and not once did he try to lick me. That’s when I knew for sure that things were bad. See, the kids are always joking that Rocket has a Lick Attack. He will physically force his head under your hand so you can pet him and he can lick you. When I was petting him, he never moved. Not good.
I made the decision to tell the kids that it wasn’t looking good. I wanted them to be prepared in case the doctor said they couldn’t fix him. Sassy cried, the boys became silent. When we got to the vet, I wrapped Rocket up in Sassy’s hoodie since it was the only thing around and we went in. It hit me while I was sitting there that I was probably holding my dog for the last time and I started to cry. I got myself under control before the kids noticed though. As the mom it’s my job to be strong in this situation. We were shown to a room where an assistant weighed Rocket and looked him over while I explained what happened. She decided she wanted to take Rocket back to see the vet instead of waiting for her to come see us. Again, not a good sign.
After taking some X-rays, it was determined that, somehow, Rocket had managed to get by without a single fracture. But he had a massive hernia. Everything in his abdomen, all of his major organs had dropped through the muscle wall and were now bulging out. It could only be repaired through major surgery and some serious recovery time. The vet’s recommendation was to just let him go. She was kind enough to show the kids to another room while we discussed this but then the kids had to be told. She gave me a moment to collect myself while she broke the news to them. I joined them quickly and I found them all crying. I explained to them that he was in a lot of pain and it was better for him but that didn’t make it any easier on any of us.
We were given time to hug on Rocket and say goodbye, although he was pretty doped up on pain meds. They gave us a lock of his hair and made an impression of his paw print for us to take home. I apologized over and over again for letting him go without a leash but there’s not much you can say to make up for a pet dying.
We had a moment or two of levity, thanks to Bubba. You see, this is our first lost pet. Death is new to our house so Bubba has never had to deal with it. As with other things, he takes a lot of his social cues from what he has seen on TV and apparently he learned mourning etiquette from National Geographic. He did have some tears but mostly he did a lot of wailing. It got so bad that the rest of us couldn’t concentrate enough to mourn. I finally had to ask Bubba if he could please cry quieter which got Howdy and Sassy giggling.
Eventually we got ourselves together and went back out to the van where we had to face our other dog and our cat who had to be wondering where their dear friend was and why we were leaving the building without him.
It was about 9:30pm when we left and we had yet to eat dinner. We picked up some food and then the kids settled in for the night. I did the only thing I could do. I drove on.
(Part 3 coming soon…)