Sitting in the office, my back to the french doors leading to the front yard, I noticed a person running quickly towards our house in the reflection on my computer screen. I turned around and saw a tall man wearing a Snowbird baseball cap taking long, purposeful strides. He resembled James Taylor. I felt safe.
I met him at the front door as he reached for the door bell.
"Do you know who's dog that is?" he asked as he pointed to the too still, cream-colored, fluffy animal lying in the street.
I looked where he was pointing. "OHMYGOD! YES!"
Our neighbor's dog had broken through his electric fence and was hit by a car. The tall man witnessed a white truck hit the dog, throwing the dog several feet. The truck didn't stop.
I called my neighbor and spoke with one of her sons. When her son told me his mother wasn't home, I didn't tell him what had happened to their family pet. The dog was still alive but had clearly been seriously injured. I called my neighbor on her cell phone several times over the next ten minutes, as I simultaneously fetched a towel, wrapped the dog, and had panicked discussions with the tall man about where I would take the injured animal for help if my neighbor didn't answer.
I finally reached my neighbor and she and her husband were only a moment away. The tall man and I were hunched over the dog when they pulled up in their car. Within a couple of minutes, the dog was on his way to the nearest animal hospital.
I'm not a dog person, mostly because I'm busy... and a neat freak, but I have tremendous compassion for animals. We have Mary and I joke about my desire for her to wear underwear [for hygiene purposes]. Chris still claims he plans to make a hat out of her when she passes because he spent $8,000 to save her life one summer.
There's nothing worse than seeing a dog suffer. When our neighbor's dog had been hit, I was numb with fear and panic. I managed to do what needed to be done but my heart was pounding and I felt like I might faint from the overwhelming emotions. I wanted to yell at the tall man, "Help him! Fix him! He's hurting!" I might have actually yelled those things. It's kind of a blur.
It's a good thing I'm not an ER doctor. I'd be no good at that. It's not that I don't want to help -- because I do -- it's that the intense empathy I experience nearly cripples me. It's also the fear of not knowing precisely what to do. Analysis paralysis. I don't want to do the wrong thing, especially when the stakes are high.
Just like team sports...
Volleyball terrifies me. I've never learned how to hit the ball without hurting my forearms. I'm the one you don't want on your team because even if the ball comes directly to me, I'll scream to my teammates, "GET IT!" We've declined many invitations to play on a couple's volleyball league. Chris knows better. He's seen me panic in backyard pool volleyball games. I can't handle the pressure.
It's the same with softball. I have vivid memories of playing left field for the Green Eyed Ladies in Winchester, Indiana, when I was a kid. Hated it. The ball would land and roll practically to my feet -- I'd look at the right fielder and scream, "GET IT!" I threw like a girl [still do] and struck out every time I was at bat. A couple's softball league is also out of the question.
Had the neighbors not been so close to home, I would have managed to get the suffering dog to the animal hospital. My adrenalin kept me moving, although I was spinning a bit, and asking the tall man redundant questions and repeating, "This is terrible. This is terrible. This is really, really terrible." Babbling seems to frequently be my modus operandi.
I spoke with my neighbor and the dog is alive. His condition has been changed from critical to stable. When he returns home, I'm requesting that they up the juice on his electric fence.
I may not be able to be crowned The-Queen-of-Grace-Under-Pressure, but I'm always well-intended. If history repeats itself, I have a shot at being the next Nobel Peace Prize winner.