I’ve disappeared for a while, because our beloved little dog, Mabel, was attacked by a loose pit bull last week while we were out on a walk.
I considered recounting the entire experience for you in vivid detail, but as you can imagine it was incredibly violent and traumatic. I’m hoping to forget the details. I’m hoping to forget the way my sweet little dog ran as fast as she could but wasn’t quick enough to escape, my fruitless attempts to rescue her limp body from those vicious jaws, the smell of her blood drenching my clothes, her frenzied screams as I carried her into the hospital, the sound of my phone ringing again and again, always with more bad news…
There is one thing I need to remember though. The kindness.
Kindness from the dog-loving neighbor I’d never met before, who kept a cool head and drove Mabel and I to the emergency veterinary hospital. She didn’t even seem to mind that Mabel bled all over her clothes and car, and has texted me every day since the attack to check on Mabel’s status.
Kindness from the nurse who put her hand on my shoulder and reassured me when I was shaking so badly that I could barely initial the permission form to allow Mabel’s treatment.
Kindness from my mom, who sat with me until Daniel got back into town and cried along with me as I received all the excruciating details about Mabel’s injuries.
Kindness from the owners of the pit bull that attacked Mabel, who took responsibility for what happened, put their dangerous dog down immediately, and came to our house in tears to apologize and offer to help in any way they could. I feel no anger toward them for what happened, just sadness for their loss.
Kindness from Daniel, who loves Mabel just as much as I do and is feeling every bit of the same pain. He thoughtfully held back certain details from me so that I could sleep that first night after the attack—like the fact that Mabel’s heart stopped for a moment during surgery and that the doctor had promised to call during the night if she started crashing.
Kindness from our families and so many friends offering support, prayers, and even leaving flowers, cards, and goodies at our front door.
This has been the most gut wrenching experience of my life so far, but God has taught me through it. In the past I’ve had difficulty knowing how to act toward people who are suffering. I always thought if I were in a similar situation I would want everyone to leave me alone, because they couldn’t make me feel better anyway. I never realized that when someone is suffering loss or pain, reaching out is not about making them feel better, being able to help, or even saying the perfect comforting words. It’s simply about making them feel loved and letting them know that you care about their heartache. Any thoughtful word or gesture of kindness, however small, can accomplish this. I regret that it took such a traumatic experience for me to learn this lesson.
So how is Mabel?
On Friday Daniel and I thought we were going to lose her. She was lifeless under a pile of blankets at the vet and didn’t even recognize us. They couldn’t bring her body temperature up. We spent the day crying and praying. We started referring to her in past tense. We tried to decide what we would do with her body.
That night I did nothing but pray. I told God that if she pulled through, I would give him all the credit, because I knew it would be a miracle. She was clamped between that pit bull’s teeth for so long, the damage was so extensive, she lost so much blood, and she is so tiny. How could she possibly survive without God stepping in?
My phone rang at 7:30 Saturday morning. Daniel and I jerked out of bed, both afraid to answer it. By the time I said “hello?” my whole body was trembling. The voice on the other end sounded upbeat, and I was dazed for a moment. Mabel’s vitals were normal and had stabilized. She was slowly starting to improve.
Now Mabel wags her tail when she sees us and licks our hands to greet us. Today she stood on her own for the first time and took a few wobbly steps. It’s going to be a long recovery. The doctors have warned us that bite wounds can be unpredictable for the first few weeks, but they’re hopeful and so are we. We’re praying that God will heal Mabel so we can enjoy her company for many years to come. If He doesn’t, I have peace knowing that we gave her the best life she could possibly have. We never took her unconditional love or sweet personality for granted, even for a second.
Update: Two months later Mabel is recovering well. Here’s a video update!