Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2006

I MUST share the story of my most memorable Thanksgiving to date: Thanksgiving 2006.

Two years ago my parents hosted Thanksgiving at their house. On the invite list was my immediate family, my Dad's extended family from Western Pennsylvania, my cousin's wife (my cousin is a firefighter and worked that day so he could not be there), and my then-boyfriend.

At the time, both my sister and I lived at home. I was going to grad school, and my sister was apartment shopping. Additionally, my parents have a weimaraner named Heidi, and my sister has a weimaraner named Hans. Heidi and Hans are part of the family. Most people are slightly offended by the way we treat our dogs - we allow them to beg from the dinner table, sleep in bed with us, and lounge on the furniture. But as my dad always says, "if you don't like my dogs then you can leave my house!"

This is important to note for two reasons: 1) Hans has a big role in this story, and 2) My dad's family from PA aren't big "dog" people.

About an hour before our guests were to arrive, my sister and I decided to hit up the grocery store for a couple of last minute items. My sister will tell you that she doesn't like "Thanksgiving food." She's a macaroni & cheese and pizza kind of gal, so dressing and cranberry sauce don't score too high on her list of yummy foods. We were going to the grocery store for mac-n-cheese.

After grabbing the final item and putting it in our grocery cart, we stopped by the in-store Starbuck's for coffees. While standing in line, my phone rang. I answered.

Mom: "You need to get home right away."
Me: "What's going on?"
Mom: "Hans has been hit by a car."
Me: "Are you serious? Okay, we're on our way." 

I looked at my sister. Hans is her life. That dog is her baby - honestly, she thinks breast-feeding is sort-of gross, but she would breast-feed that dog if she had to. I know that is a horrible visual, but it's the truth. 

So my sister is now looking at me like, "what's going on." I say to her, "we have to leave, now." She asks, "what's wrong?" I didn't have the heart to lie. As soon as I told her, she dropped everything - groceries, coffee - and started running to the car. I remember running behind her and watching her. She was trying to run but because she was in hysterics, she just sort-of shuffled out of the grocery store while making strange wailing noises.

We arrived home in record time (we only lived 2 miles from the grocery) and found my parents holding Hans. He was alert and on his feet, but his eyes were bloodshot and his tail was tucked, and he looked a bit beat up. Because our family from PA was on their way, I decided to stay back with my cousin's wife while my family took off with the dog to the puppy ER.

Soon after, our guests arrived. Because my mom had been in charge of the dinner, and because my mom was now at the puppy ER, my Great Aunt helped pull things together (even though she is ancient and not functioning so well). I can remember sitting at the table with my distant family and feeling sick to my stomach. I was so worried about the dog. And of course, my family from PA didn't understand. They are farmers, and they don't have relationships with animals as pets. I totally respect that, but they just didn't understand how badly I wanted them to leave so that I could be with my family and dog in that moment. 

After what seemed like forever, we received a phone call from my sister. Hans was going to be okay! He was going through a battery of tests to make sure that there was no internal bleeding, but he would survive. Now that everyone could relax a bit, my parents decided to leave my sister with Hans at the vet and come home to be with their guests. I decided to go to the vet to be with my sister.

It just so happened that my then-boyfriend (now husband) was on his way in town from his parents house to spend the rest of Thanksgiving with my family. Like a hero, he arrived just in time to pick up my sister, the puppy, and me from the vet. My then-boyfriend and I had only known each other a couple of months at that point, but I knew he was "it." He was so helpful during that difficult time, and even though he wasn't raised with pets like I was, he was willing to do whatever needed to be done for my family.

I will never forget that Thanksgiving. Thank God that Hans was okay, but he really gave us a scare. As it turns out, Hans was hit by a young man who was learning to drive. It was not the boy's fault at all. Hans darted into the street between two parked cars. The boy never even saw him coming. Fortunately this took place on a cul-de-sac thus the boy was driving slowly. I imagine that it really shook the boy up - can you imagine hitting a dog while you're learning to drive?!


Anonymous said...

okay...worst day EVER! I still look at Hans and feel bad for what he went through...that was really nice of Matt to help out that day..and yes, if needed,and wasn't totally weird, I would pump breastmilk for my dog.