11 June 2018

I do not hate coyotes.

Here’s a laundry list of the things they did to Gustavo:

bites, bites, bites. puncture wounds in neck, side, back, ears, head. most plentiful near throat.
drain for abscessed punctures.
broken ribs, all on the right side.
bruised lung and liver.
torn salivary gland.
scratched corneal ulcers.
torn abdominal wall.

Gustavo was in the hospital ICU for 4 days on an iv, sleeping mostly, not really moving, in a little dog bed in a kennel behind a sliding glass door, in a dim room full of sick dogs. His iv gets moved from leg to leg. There are a lot of xrays. At some point that drain got put in for festering absessed wounds in his neck causing gas to pocket in his tissue. His esophagus or trachea, I forget which, was not torn, just a bit smashed.

He would not eat. Nothing for a nurse, not at all. I got him to lick some ice cream off a popsicle stick, what they like to call in the hospital, tongue depressors. His tongue was not depressed though, it could only move out the side of him mouth to slurp up a bit of ice cream. We used vanilla as the gateway drug to chicken babyfood. Only the Gerber. Forget the organic stuff I got at Whole Foods.

I think his jaw hurt, I think his everything hurt. He was took by coyotes on a Sunday morning, on a Tuesday he was found. I can’t imagine what he went through those 48 hours. Maybe he hoped to die.

Gustavo would not let the nurses touch him. Nor the doctors. No temperatures no touching no blood draw no nothing. They still loved him anyways, or at least that’s what they said. He would like to leave the hospital please and is not shy to let everyone know this. He fought and wiggled ferociously, even tried to bite with his remaining four teeth. He is very, very happy to see me so they let me come to see him a lot.

I took him out to the parking lot on his feeding visits, he would eat the best for me. He started trying to escape that jail via the car park. He could only walk in the very slowest shuffle of little tiny steps, so it was very easy to capture him as he attempted the jail breaks. I just took one step. We spent a lot of time out there, in the shrubs outlining the asphalt parking lot. I didn't know, did it scare him, like a ptsd coyote would come out from the trash can enclosure? Did he just want to end it all by heading out into traffic on 41st Avenue? Or was he happy to breathe for a few minutes, it was his only bit of fresh air. It was very exciting when he peed.

After 4 days, they let me take him home. Popped out his catheter and released him to be my problem to get him to eat. He was losing so much weight and nobody wanted to put in a little feeding tube. I brought him back a few times for the docs to look at. He needed to eat more, but all the things, they were healing. It was hard to carry him, his ribs were broken, mostly he wanted to sleep in his dog bed, or sniff the air in the back yard.

I do not hate coyotes. If they had wanted, they could have easily torn him to shreds.

Likely I was a pain in their coyote asses, and they dropped him. A screaming lady thrashing around in your thicket hitting things with a branch probably feels uncomfortable for eating a small dog, not so nice for the digestion. I don’t hate you, coyotes, I just wanted my dog back. Whether they caught him to feed some pups, or just wanted to eliminate another potential predator of the woods, Gustavo, he who enjoys chasing squirrels and paper towels, we will never know.

I’ve been a few times to the school where the kids found him. I saw where the path dumped him off, underneath the deck. He crawled under there, probably to die, all his energy used up tromping through the woods when they dropped him, all the way down to the flat path that crosses the creek near the tree stump that looks like a gnome house. He did not take the shortest way to get there, that is clear from the path he chose. On Tuesday, the groundskeeper saw him, some 8th grade girls got him to come out. They said he could walk. One girl said he couldn’t. I don’t know what happened, but they got him out and gave him to the grownups and that’s how I got him back. It’s kind of a hippie school, there’s no uniforms or hard math classes there, they play violin and have plays and social justice. His photo is stapled to the office wall. He is the only dog now ever allowed at school, I took him up there to hang out with the kids on the last day of school, between 8th grade graduation and the picnic.

Four weeks now, he’s been back. Four weeks now, he came back from the dead. Four weeks, all the good wishes and buckets of money throw to me by friends and family and people I’ve never even met, at his hospital bills, with a large sum left over that I still need to figure out what to do with. Maybe in a few months, when they say for sure that tear in his abdominal wall is healed and not going to tear itself up any more. Three weeks back at my house, two weeks starting to feel good and eat more things, one week starting to see his personality come back and he turns back into Gustavo.

I still don’t hate coyotes. I am afraid to take my dogs to the woods, the only place they’ve ever known to walk. I stick them on leashes and walk them on the pavement of the neighborhood, we go to the park and I throw a ball. It's hot, there are very few trees, and we feel suburban and very pedestrian, but seems like fewer ways for them to die. Gustavo can even go on a little walk, I bought him a fleece harness and he can trot along, almost like how he used to. We walk a bit slower, we look out for traffic.

I don't hate coyotes, but maybe this is how we learn to live our lives for now. I don't really care. I had a miracle occur and I got my dog back. Can you see that by peering into my eyes? I had flipping angels fly around and deliver him back to me and then collect the money to pay for his bills. We can walk on the asphalt for now, we can learn to do things different. Nobody usually gets something back that is that much gone, today, I am not nobody.

Part Two: The kind of person who gets poison oak.

Part One: Bambi Quick the Thicket


Elf said...

What a story. What a dog.

Anonymous said...

Love Gustavo. Love Team Small Dog. Love you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling us about Gustavo, I hope he continues to heal fully.

Claire Krigbaum said...

I am so happy for you, getting him back! I love your writing and I went to a hippie Waldorf school when I was little! You're right, no hard math classes and I had to catch up when I switched to regular school :)
So glad you don't hate coyotes!!!

Unknown said...

Wow. What an amazing story. Gustavo has always been special, but the fact that he somehow managed to escape and make it to help. Wow.

Elf said...

Reread the whole story just now. Because someone else I know through a friend posted about a little dog being attacked by coyotes and living. And the news is amazing because it just doesn't ever happen--coyotes get the little dogs and that's it. The world smiled on you and Gustavo. But even knowing the ending I cried all the way through, reliving your FB status posts that came as it all actually happened. You write very well. I've said that before, I know. You had a year of miracles. I think you deserved that, and more--who else has their dying dog in their car and dashes back to work to tell the clients what's going on? You're amazing and so are your pups.

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