My childhood was spent on a horse farm, where we ate cherry pie on the front porch, watermelon in the backyard and played with dogs at the neighbors. Never on our own farm, and definitely never in our own home. There were no dogs at the Lauer's. And then I moved to college. After much deliberation and discussion, I found her. My little Leila-dog who shook when I met her, who peed when I came home - well, who peed really for anything at all - and who clung to my chest when I picked her up. The first week she was home I sat crying against my bathtub. The bathtub she sat inside because she wouldn't stop peeing. I couldn't study, I couldn't stop cleaning and I certainly couldn't wash my hands enough. So I made it. I made a for sale sign. I even tried to make a profit on her. Yes, internet friends, I tried to make a profit on Leila.
I never posted it.
Sitting on the bathroom floor crying, the poster in my textbook bookmark-style, I never, ever guessed that I would so wrapped around a little dog's toes. I didn't let her near my bed then, I sanitized everything she walked on and I made a sign to sell her. And now, I let this little mammal-rodent share my bed, my home and my life. She's two now - and we're inseparable. She feels like a sister, my best friend, my child, my joy reminder, a listener, the entertainer and my little survivor. Once again. She's my little survivor.
Yesterday, Leila wiggled out of her collar and took off down the sidewalk to follow a scent. I chased her down the sidewalk and when I thought she was running to one of our favorite hangouts, she took a left into the street. The big, bad, Washington Street where big cars (mine included) drive too fast and don't pay much attention. And there I was, rarely-dramatic-or-emotional-me standing on the curb, both hands over my mouth as I screamed her name as loud as possible. Big tears welled up in my eyes as Leila dodged the first car, but didn't fare too well against the next. Thank you to the pathfinder who stopped when they saw me running down the street after her. Thank you for stopping. You helped save my best friend.
The second car didn't see her. It didn't stop moving either. Even after the hit.
Leila missed the first tire and I could see it happening, and then I heard a big 'pop' and my little friend went flying under a parked car. She slammed against the curb bounced back under the car, right back out into the street. She hopped up, scared and shaking, tail tucked between her legs, ears back and ran down the street looking for our house. She stood in the middle of Washington looking around. And so did I. Not paying any attention to the cars behind me. Not even looking before I ran in the street after her. All I could think was 'treat', 'sit', 'down', 'go', 'inside' and 'Leila'. Her favorite words. I could see her legs were working, but she was shaking all over. I kept asking if she was ok. Like she was going to respond. While there were cars lining the street behind me. While no one seemed to notice my little friend just got run over. She just kept shaking.
There was black tar on her nose from the hit and a black stripe on her back from the skid. She ran through the back parking lot, me chasing and a friend who was over yelling her name all the way. She was scared. She knew she ran away and that was bad, but couldn't seem to figure out the rest. So back to the front door she went. The door she knows goes 'inside'.
We got in the studio and she was shaking and gagging a little bit. Lots of shaking and being scared. She had a small scuff on her nose, and a blood spot on her toe. My little girl seemed to survive the car hit. Just like she survived eating a pound box of chocolate last father's day. Just like she survived the for sale sign.
And last night she was zipping around the house, biting at my toes reminding me to play. To be joyful. Even on the days when you feel like you get hit by a car, life isn't that bad. Because the car didn't kill you. It taught you a lesson and let you go home. To your life. Where you bite your Mom's toes, run laps on the carpet and bark at passersby. Where life is good.
Thanks to Dr. Mike who told us what to look for, Kate who yelled her name with me and Taryn who let me take a nap to get it together. And to that little white fluff who got back up and ran all the way home. I love you little Leila-dog and I'm never going to let you go. I'm too smitten to let a car keep you down.