Threw my one-legged dog in the pannier on the back of my bike. We were going out for one of our rides. He loves to go along with me. I know his emotions because they show on his face—and in his tail. I don’t read his mind. I’m not a dog-mind reader. I just read his body language.
In any normal situation, his tail goes pretty fast when he’s excited. When we ride, his tail goes the speed of light, which is just about the fastest speed there is. His tail moves back and forth so fast you can’t see it. His ears perk up too. They stand up like little quivering antennae, trying to catch every possible sound in the vicinity.
I wonder if he can hear anything at all with the wind passing by so fast. Does he hear some of what’s going on? Oh, for sure. One time he was about to jump out and chase another dog he heard barking off in someone’s yard. I stopped him with a warning. “Hey! You can’t chase it with only one leg! Sit back down.”
He sat down.
We rode on.
One other time, we stopped at my friend’s house. He was out in the driveway teaching his rabbits to ride skateboards. He used to have cats, but he trade them for rabbits. The rabbits were all getting really good at it. I noticed one of them was goofy-foot. It was the best of them all. Don’t make the mistake of thinking anyone is lesser-than because they shoot left-handed, or left-footed. In fact, a lot of times, in sports, the left-handers have the advantage.
While we were there watching the rabbits, my friend’s neighbor came over and told him he was crazy. He said something ridiculous like, “Silly neighbor. Skateboard tricks are for kids, not rabbits.”
In sync, my friend and I both said, “Pffft!” and waved him off, so he left.
There are only two kinds of people in this world. One kind are the kind who spout chestnuts all day. The other is the kind who come up with clever, original things to say like, “Pffft!”
And before this story degenerates into clever anecdotes about life and how to be, I’ll relate the last time I ever saw my one-legged dog.
He was in my backyard whining. He didn’t often whine. He was toughened by life. It didn’t really matter what happened to him after he had lost his legs. Everything was just like, “Whatever.” You know? He didn’t whine about anything else after that. Except that one time. He was sitting in the yard, next to his house with his name on the door: Squatty. His bowl was on the ground, full of food, and bearing the name of my previous dog: Mustain. I never bothered to remove that name. I figured Squatty couldn’t read it anyway. How would he know?
His tail wasn’t wagging that time. His ears were perked up, but it wasn’t other animals he was trying to hear. He wasn’t listening to me, even though I tried to reassure him, “Calm down Squatty. I’m here.” It was something bigger, more ominous. It was something coming our way. Not just his. Ours. Only I didn’t know it yet.
It was a death toll from below. It was an earth-shattering earthquake. You see, dogs have senses different from ours. They know when earthquakes are coming long before we do. So pay attention to your pets. If they start worrying about something, you better start worrying too. The earth opened up and took Squatty that day. I should have taken him for another ride. He would have been safe in the pannier probably. But I wasn’t fast enough. And Squatty wasn’t fast at all. He just whimpered and fell in the crack that opened up, took him, and closed again. My solace is that he’s no longer suffering the torment of being a dog with no run. He can run after other dogs in dog heaven. Thank God.
As for me, I couldn’t handle the pain of watching him disappear like that, so I curled up in my pannier the rest of the day and waited for aftershocks.