cabin stories
Cabin Stories
Building, Tools & Tricks
Photo Gallery

Dog’s life

20 August 2011 | Category: Stories | Author: Clare

About a month ago River was hit by a train.

With her head in my lap, blood wheezing through her nose, it occurred to me just how heartbroken I would be if she died.

Presumably at a certain time in life we are destined to procreate.

I suspect that the sentimental attachment to our canine friends becomes a little more acute when the love we would otherwise lavish on absent children has nowhere to call home, and that phase of our life rumbles right on by.

Her head was grotesquely distorted, and though it was dark by the time the scene settled into its horrific parameters, we could tell there was something very wrong with her skull.

Oddly, the rest of her body seemed remarkably intact.

Coal trains in this area may be a mile long, maybe longer. Travelling north, they roll by, full of black gemstones, heading to the Coast to fuel the Chinese industrial revolution.

Industrial or technological? Political or sociological? I have no idea anymore.

In a society of paradox, what is the norm?

Sometimes these things are interesting; sometimes they bear no relevance at all to our little lives; all that matters boils down to those immediately around you in that moment; to the people you see when you look up in crisis.

The south bound train travels empty.

River was hit by a north bound train.

For an awful moment I believed I might have to shoot her.

For someone who originates in the arse end of Scotland, familiar with guns, hunting, and more than endowed with the ability to make difficult decisions, this was a surprisingly disturbing feeling.

Wee River, the sweetest dog I have ever known, and Breagha’s best friend.

Her life in our hands.

No wonder people have written about heartbreak for as long as there have been words.

But I am not sure anyone has ever truly captured it; how could you articulate something so pervasive?

It is as if a piece of you is dying before your eyes - and it is accompanied by a terrible sense of foreboding because you know there is no point trying to hold on.

It is a place of intense hopelessness.

That was almost 6 weeks ago.

She has made an almost full recovery. Looking down at her lying by my feet, I feel a warmth rise up from somewhere in the pit of my stomach, and I reach down and absent mindedly scratch what remains of one of her ears.

Her tail, shorn off by the train, is much shorter than before, and her gentle gaze comes to you now through only one eye;  the other rolled back inside her head, watching for the hallmarks of behavioural issues forming in her battered brain.

To date, our wee dog has returned to herself; playfulness, sweetness and gormlessness intact.

Though I struggle to recognise the pattern of my beliefs in any codified religion, I am intensely grateful to whoever is the appropriate recipient.

Thank God.

Comments for: Dog’s life

Send a new comment

Peter | Date: 27 August 2011 01:12:45 PM

What a lovely story, as I sit here typing this through wet eyes and I'm a hardened dad from the north of Scotland. Well done Clare and River. Love you both.xx

claire | Date: 27 August 2011 08:40:20 AM

I am so relieved that she is okay. I'm sure you have heard by now what a rough time we had this Spring, and even though I have children I fully understand how attached you can be to a dog. I would be heart broken if anything happened to Willow or Cash although it's true it probably wouldn't be as intense and long lasting as the pain I am dealing with right now - the thing is that you don't expect your dogs to out live know they won't, but you hope to have them as long as possible. The only time I really didn't care what happened to my dogs was during the time I spent in the hospital in Vancouver this spring. But they were well taken care of and Willow is as sweet as ever and gives me great comfort now. I think about you often and I hope the cabin is bringing you much joy...we really should get together one of these days.

Send a new comment