A lesson from Memo

5 November 2006
6:42 PM

I don’t have children. I’ll also be the first to admit that I don’t know very much about them. I do get occasional insights from teaching at school or when I visit the girls’ foster home; every now and then, I get a glimpse of what I imagine parenthood must be like. I had one this past Saturday, and it came courtesy of my dog, Memo.

Saturday was a busy day. I biked to the bakery at 7:30 to buy bread for our monthly breakfast with the parish priests. At 8:00, we had said breakfast. Afterwards I washed dishes and had to clean house. Caitlin and her mother who is in town came to visit just before noon, and we went to town for lunch (amazing). Then I came back home just in time for a CEVA planning meeting. When the meeting was over, I made a phone call at the nearby pay phone. Just as I got home and sat down for my first break in the day, before I went to a wedding-anniversary celebration, I heard a screech and some piercing yelps: Memo had been hit by a car.

Memo was not in good shape. After the car hit him, he tumbled beneath it until it passed. He could barely walk, his back had a deep gash in it, and he was bleeding from a couple cuts on his legs. His pelvis looked out-of-place—probably broken somewhere. Maureen made some pleading phone calls to traveling vets (none found), and finally found a friend’s mother who was willing to risk her car’s interior to take us to the vet. I lined the back seat of the car with old towels and Memo—probably knowing that he was going to get help—climbed eagerly, gingerly, into the back seat with me. It was clearly painful for him to sit down, though standing in the car didn’t suit him well either. We finally settled on an arrangement where Memo put his front paws on my legs and curled up in my arms. Bloody and dirty, we made our way to the vet’s office.

There I was happy to see Luis, one of my co-workers at the local agricultural high school. (He two-times as a professor of animal management and a vet.) In addition to being my co-worker for ten months, Luis has been Memo’s doctor for about 10 years. We lifted Memo onto the exam table, where Luis checked him. Almost miraculously, Memo seemed to have evaded death again. Though clearly hurting, his wounds were not grave, and nothing was broken. A regular temperature indicated there was no internal bleeding. Luis dressed the wounds as I held him on the table. Memo responded by drooling on Maureen.

The ride home was somewhat tricky because Memo’s wounds were covered in a wet, purple spray to keep flies from laying eggs in his wounds. Most of it ended up on my pants, but none on the car upholstery. We made it, intact, and very happy to have our not-terribly-wounded doggy at home.

Memo has been a companion in our associate house for almost twenty different owners, by my count, and a real-life personality in our neighborhood. In fact, when I went to the payphone with him earlier in the day, two girls on the street said hello to me, then separately, “Hola Memo!” I was so worried for him when he was hurt, and I wanted to do anything that would make him feel better. I can only imagine what parents feel for their children when they are hurt.

Today, the day after the accident, Memo is moving cautiously and his body is swollen in different areas, but he is in good spirits. I sometimes give Memo a hard time for not being the smartest animal, but it turns out that he is a pretty good teacher.