Our good friend Erik visited this weekend, from California, and we packed a lot into three days--went to the Walker Art Center, went out to eat, drove down the Mississippi to Frontenac and hiked in the state park. We made a big fry-up of eggs and sausage and hash browns for breakfast and lay around and groaned and then skipped lunch. At night, we sat out in lawn chairs in the grass and talked until the mosquitoes chased us onto the screen porch, where we sat and talked some more.
I took Monday off work to spend the day with him. I hadn't told the dogwalker that I was going to be home, so we decided to go out to lunch and leave her to her work. We sat outside at some place along Grand Avenue and Erik had a glass of wine and then we walked the neighborhood, gaping at the big houses. We got home with an hour to spare before we had to leave for the airport.
At the back door, though, we saw blood--blood on the steps, blood on the sidewalk, a crumpled, blood-stained paper towel tossed in the grass, as though someone had tried to mop things up and then had hastily run off.
Riley met us at the door, zipped out into the yard, looking back over his shoulder in a puzzled way.
We went into the living room. No Boscoe, who is usually sprawled there on his orthopedic dog bed under the ceiling fan. No Boscoe on the front porch, either, his other favorite spot. There was no point in looking upstairs, because he cannot climb the stairs, but we looked anyway.
No Boscoe anywhere at all.
I could feel the panic rise in me. I tried, for the sake of Erik, to appear calm. I grabbed the phone and then realized I did not know the dog walker's cell phone number. It was scrawled on a piece of paper that we had kept tacked to the refrigerator door with a magnet, but when we had the kitchen painted earlier in the summer we took everything down and I now had no idea where that slip of paper might be.
Maybe she called me at work! I started punching in the numbers, realized I could not, in my harried state, remember the number to reach voice mail. Gave up.
Opened the laptop, searched for messages from Mary to see if she had sent me her cell phone number. She had not, or, if she had, I couldn't find it. Found, instead, the number of the woman who runs the dog-walking business, called her, got voice mail, left a shaky-sounding message about Blood! And no Boscoe! and Call me! and then when I started to leave my home number realized that I could not remember it. "Oh, you know where to find me!" I shouted testily and then hung up.
Erik stood off to the side respectfully, not getting in my way, thank God not offering any advice, just watching with a bemused expression. I think he had never seen me completely lose my head before.
Next step: Dashed down the basement stairs, riffled through the pile of refrigerator magnets and old photos that I had heaped on the desk, found, in my second time through, the slip of paper with Mary's cell phone number.
Dashed back upstairs, called her, and she answered on the second ring, sounding cool as a cucumber.
Boscoe is fine, she said cheerfully. He's fine.
He had run down the back stairs, caught a paw nail, and ripped it out. Bled like hell all over the back yard.
"If I'd known you were coming home early, I would have left a note," she said apologetically but still cheerfully. "I figured we'd have it all taken care of before you got off work."
In the end, it was probably a good thing that he ripped off that nail. The vet called me an hour later to tell me that they had stitched it up and bandaged it and it would be fine. But she noticed that he has some kind of skin infection on his shoulder and his belly (and he had been licking a lot, and flaking, but I thought it was just from the heat of summer) and she was putting him on antibiotics for two weeks and sending him home with some kind of medicated shampoo.
So right now, as I write this, he is sprawled in the living room on his orthopedic dog bed under the ceiling fan, looking relaxed. He has a hot-pink bandage on his front left paw. He is full of good breakfast, including chicken that Doug roasted on the grill last night, and four different expensive medications.
He is sleeping soundly, and he is basking in our love.