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I’ve been sick lately.
Physically sick and emotionally sick.
On Sunday, March 13, a severe cold or other illness overcame me and kept me from work for three days.
The bigger sickness — the emotional one — had come a day earlier, on Saturday, March 12.
That’s when the latest member of our household — a rescued Pomeranian and 10-pound ball of energy named Tybalt — got loose and was hit by a car.
Tybalt survived his ordeal but had to have his right hind leg removed.
It’s difficult to write this as I find myself wracked with guilt about everything that transpired that morning. I don’t consider myself a negligent pet owner, but logic does not always supersede emotion.
My girlfriend, Rebecca Ricks, and I were talking as we were about to step out the back door that Saturday morning when Tybalt made a break for it. We were frankly surprised because he had seemed to have gotten past what we referred to as being a door dasher. He had done it a few times the first two weeks he was here when we got him about four months ago.
Then he stopped that behavior. He would follow us to the back door, but he’d stop and wait, knowing we’d tell him to stay and that we’d be back.
Then a week prior to the last incident, he had made a break for it. With the help of some kind neighbors we found him and got him home about an hour later.
Since it had been months between that incident and his initial breaks to run free we figured it was a fluke.
When we found ourselves looking for Tybalt on Saturday, regrets and doubt flooded my mind, and they only magnified after we discovered his fate. The “if only” and “what if” games your mind plays are often hard to ignore.
If only we’d been more vigilant. What if he would have been perfectly healthy right now had he gone to another owner?
If only we could have acted more quickly. What if he got hit because he was crossing the street after hearing us call him?
If only. What if?
If only we’d kept the dog gate up to keep him away from that back door. What if he hadn’t been found and taken off the street where he was hit?
Logically I know it is futile to reconstruct the scenario in my mind or imagine alternate turns of events. I know I can’t change what has happened, and I know reimagining better outcomes causes nothing but frustration.
I have to think, instead, of how lucky I am.
Lucky because there are people like Marcia Barnes and her daughter, Emily, who found Tybalt after he got hit on Mulberry Street and took him to the veterinarian hospital.
Lucky because we found Marcia about 90 minutes after scouring the neighborhoods around North Main Street on foot and by car and finally expanded our search to include neighborhoods on the other side of Mulberry Street.
Lucky because at the exact time frame when Marcia had returned to the area where she found Tybalt to begin randomly knocking on doors to find his owner, Becca and I turned down that very street calling out the window for our lost companion.
Lucky because, with all the injury Tybalt sustained to three of his legs and his tail, he did not appear to have any internal injuries.
Lucky because I have wonderful family and friends who got me through the “if only” and “what if” mind game.
Lucky because our companion is still alive today.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (270) 505-1743.