Embarrassing Parents

Since when did I square my shoulders and cross my arms and glare marketedly toward my dog before uttering such words as “You’ll thank me later”?

Bagheera choked the other day and now I’m paranoid whenever she chews on sticks. She’s a goat: devouring anything that can or can not fit into her mouth. She started foaming at the mouth and then coughing before we even thought that maybe she was choking. Dad rushed over and began pounding her with an open fist on the back of her neck, but nothing would emerge. So he shoved his hand down her throat - no hesitation, no fear - and began searching for the lodged stick.

And all I could do was stare helplessly and cover my mouth and listen to my pulse rapidly approach heart attack-level. Dad succeeded in saving her life, but even as she ran over to her water dish and began gulping happily before plopping down under the table to once again munch on a few sticks, I couldn’t shake the sensation that maybe he won’t be around the next time she happens to lodge something in her throat. And, would I even have the courage to save her life?

My heart rate took awhile to simmer down to a slight hesitation, as if I was unsure of who had the right-of-way at an intersection. The feeling is still very much alive even as I sit here writing this only to glance over in her direction every twenty seconds to make sure that a walnut or an apple or a treacherous leaf hasn’t suffocated her. And I feel like Mother Hen to my baby black lab. Earlier in the morning she was hopping from room to room, a mouth full of sticks and eyes that begged me to chase after her and tease her endlessly until she would eventually plop down on the couch and enjoy a quick, slumbering snooze before it was time to play again. But, like any decent tyrant, with the promise of a tightly knotted rope toy, I was able to snatch up the sticks and march off to the trash can and throw them away before she could even realize what I had done. She was there, of course, when I turned around and her tail was no longer wagging and her face was long and her eyes only begged for the toy I threw away. “You’ll thank me later,” I distinctly, and immediately, regretted saying.

Since when did I square my shoulders and cross my arms and glare marketedly toward my dog before uttering such words as “You’ll thank me later”? I needed air. My paranoia surmounted in the emergence of Codie the Mom: repressor of all things fun. Yes, I was actively working toward preserving a life, but I want to be the cool, fun mom. She should be allowed to have her other dog friends over at odd hours of the day and not clean her room when I tell her to and able to drink alcohol as long as it’s under my supervision. This should be a house of no rules, a life of no responsibilities.

So, maybe I was being a little harsh. What’s to stop Bagheera from going into the the yard and eating a few more sticks or trotting inside to proudly display them in front of me? Her goat-like habits have been tamed to a certain extent: she’s no longer eating furniture and the occasional unmentionable, spending most of her time devouring what nature has created. It’s not as if my dog is riding in cars with boys and smoking cigarettes and developing a cocaine problem. I just don’t want to ever see her choking again, or to be the person whose hand failed to retrieve a lodged stick from her dead dog’s throat.

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