Karma, Tested by the Universe, or The Day I Did Not Kill My Dog

This past summer we had to put down both our dear chocolate lab Hershey and one month later our black lab Scout (named by her breeder after the To Kill A Mockingbird character).

I wanted a new lab immediately after Hershey, but my wife did not, unable to rise out of the pain from that loss (in most ways, they were very much her dogs). After the loss of Scout, however, we did buy a new pup, dear Zoe, a yellow lab.

Zoe 2

Sweet Zoe, with her wonderful green eyes, groggy in my floorboard after her adventure in spaying. (Note: Zoe is very smart, but, no, she isn’t reading Margaret Atwood’s new collection of stories.)

Yesterday as I was working on a blog post, I glanced outside to see Zoe chewing on the broom. A classic lab, Zoe chews everything; in fact, I believe she is Olympic or Guinness Book level in her chewing, and destruction.

So I went out, retrieved the broom, and then as I walked through the garage, I considered the possibility that my special edition Ridley Excalibur Flandrien bicycle was a target for Zoe. And much to my dismay, that feeling was confirmed:

Zoe 1

SRAM Force 22 carbon fiber cranks, bottle cages, and rear derailleur cable housing (not pictured) destroyed by dear Zoe. (Hint: Very expensive cycling parts.)

Let me pause here and back up.

This was Tuesday, and on Monday, I had participated in an online debate about corporal punishment for The Stream. That invitation was the result of recent pieces of mine arguing against corporal punishment, ironically for the show, stating that there is no debate about spanking.

During the discussion, I did not have the chance, but at one point, I wanted to say that I now own a new lab pup, and I wouldn’t dare hit a puppy—I certainly wouldn’t hit a child.

I have never been one for spirituality, or mysticism. But someone very dear to me, after years of my resistance, did bring me around to accepting karma, or at least that some universal consciousness exists—one seeking balance and possibly justice.

And thus, I stood in the garage with Zoe leaping against my leg; she is deep into the jumping and snipping phase, ruining our clothes, leaving bloody nicks on our hands and arms. I stood there looking at my precious bicycle, and I didn’t yell at, hit, or kill Zoe.

The damage done to the bicycle, of course, was my fault.

With my chest heavy, I took the bicycle inside—a bit angry I would have to spend the morning touching up the crank, replacing the cages and the cable housing, and thus eating into writing time—and then I took apart Zoe’s cage we had used when she was smaller but left in the garage because she was attached to the confines even though we now leave its gate open.

With some zip ties, I carefully created a barrier between Zoe and the side of the garage where my bicycle racks are.

Zoe is a beautiful and loving creature, but she is a dog. I am the human in this relationship.

In the same way, children are children, and any time a child is put in our care, we must observe the very real fact that we are the adults in those relationships.

As I carefully applied black and clear touch-up paint to the crank of my bicycle, I hoped I had been convinced correctly. I hoped for karma, for a universe seeking balance. But I also knew one thing for sure, a lesson from the universe: You better be ready to put up or you better shut up.

At least that appeared to be just behind Zoe’s amazing green eyes as she wanted nothing more than my attention while I wrestled against my anger spurred by her teeth marks etched in carbon.

One comment

  1. Cleargrace

    As a teacher of high school children (and a dog owner) I sometimes forget these great hulking teenagers are still very much children. They still need to be cared for as such. It is my responsibility to be the adult. To respond as the adult. Enjoy your baby with the green eyes. There will come a time when the chewing will be only the memory of those covered over teeth marks on your bicycle, as she snuggles next to you and your wife and gets her beautiful hair on the couch! Thank you for the reminder.

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