Kiko’s Close Call

During our visit to Rochester, we left Kiko alone with H’s parents one afternoon while we went out.  We felt no anxiety about leaving the dog with them. I don’t think I even gave a single thought to Kiko while we were gone.  Grandma and Grandpa are worriers.  They are careful.  They visualize every possibility of disaster, no matter how remote.  They looked after our two-year old daughter for ten days when H, my parents and I went to France.  Everyone was fine.  They should have no problem dealing with Kiko for an hour and a half.
When we returned, Grandpa came quickly to the door.  He was clearly shaken. We knew something was up.   Everything’s alright, he said, breathlessly.  It’s all OK. . . . But Kiko got out.I was immediately beset by panic, even though Kiko was right there, looking up at me, perfectly fine, intact and unharmed, a bit sleepy.The story unfolded.  Shortly after we left, Grandpa decided to get the car washed.  With Rochester’s constant snow and never-ending salt and slush on the roads, car washes are a routine necessity.  He looked into the living room and saw Kiko asleep on his bed.  In the kitchen, he pressed the garage door opener, as he always does, before going out the side door.  It was then that he was aware of a reddish flash behind him.  Kiko was already in the garage and dashing out into the driveway.  Grandpa lunged for the dog, managing to grab his tail, which  looks very much like a curled handle, as on a teapot.  But Kiko was moving too fast, and the tug on his tail merely caused him to yelp and move even faster.Our brilliant dog turned left at the end of the driveway and bounded down the very center of the street.  H’s parents’ live on a busy road, where cars speed by with dependable frequency.  This was no quiet neighborhood cul-de-sac.  Oh no.



Fortunately Grandma heard Grandpa yell and was alerted to the situation.  I had showed her Kiko’s bag of treats and left them out on the table.  Thinking quickly, she got a treat and rushed out in pursuit.  By this time Grandpa and the dog were well down the road.  Kiko would stop occasionally and look back, then fly off again playfully.  He was evidently thinking,  This is a great game!.  When he heard Grandma yell pleasantly, Kiko, treat!, he paused long enough to allow Grandpa to catch up and grab his collar.  Luckily, I hadn’t removed the collar as I usually do at home; this dog is as slippery as an otter.  Kiko was saddened and stunned to see the game ending so quickly, and he did all he could to resist returning home.  He splayed his legs, put his head down resolutely, and managed to make his compact 26-pound bulk feel much heavier. But Grandpa was determined, and mustering his strength, he corraled our little runaway beast.

Considering that Grandpa and Grandma generally don’t move especially fast, it is a near-miracle that they managed to catch our speedy dog.  Evidently the adrenaline rush fueled their unusual alacrity.  The real miracle, according to Grandpa, was the absence of a single car passing by during the entire episode.

We all visualized various grim alternate endings:  Grandpa collapses in the street with a heart attack, Grandma slips on the icy road and breaks a hip, and Kiko is still flattened by a Suburban.

We would all be awash in blame.  The whys and the what-ifs would be dizzying and relentless.  Why didn’t we ask Grandma and Grandpa if they planned to go out?  Why didn’t we warn them about the garage door?  What if we had taken Kiko with us?  Grandpa would regret that car wash for the rest of his life, as H, D and I would regret that day’s outing.

Here, I am, close to tears, again, imagining the sad trip back to Virginia, without Kiko.  Or with his inert little body packed in ice in the back of the car? I doubt we could have buried him in the frozen Rochester ground. We would have had to gather up all his stuff–his bed, blanket, food bowls, treats, Foxy, his little coat.  Oh, his little plaid coat, the coat he wore only once!  And now my heart is breaking for parents who have lost children (and I do mean human children) who must confront  the tormenting evidence–the forlorn toys, the clothes, the snow boots–that screams: She’ll be back!  She’s at a friend’s house.  He’ll be home from school at 4:00!  How do such parents answer, without going insane: No, pretty red dress, my baby won’t be home again.  No, boots, he will not use you for this snow, or ever.   Only with God’s help.

But our ending, this time, was a happy one.  I don’t think God held back the cars that day.  Nor do I think he assigns guardian angels to dogs.  But maybe God did give Grandpa and Grandma the unaccustomed speed they needed to catch our escaped monster.  And maybe he looked after them so they did not get hurt in the process.  Maybe he helped Grandma remember that a treat might work magic. And maybe luck was simply on our side.

Today, safely at home, my Kiko is warm in the sun.  I will cuddle him, and give thanks again.  And I will say a prayer for those wrestling with an unhappy ending.

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 Kiko sleeps in the March sun.

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Now Grandma and Grandpa have signs like this one on all their doors,  just as we do in our house.

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