Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Time My Mother Gave Her In-Laws a Dog

A few years into my grandfather's dementia, my mother decided what he really needed was a dog.  My dad's dad had Alzheimer's, and my grandmother took care of him at home.  He had reached the stage where he believed he was in prison and his wife was his jailer, but he hadn't reached the stage where it was taking a toll on his physical body yet.  In short, he spent a lot of time running away from home, and my grandmother spent a lot of time retrieving him.

My mother saw an ad for a free, unwanted, adult dog in a local Penny Saver and determined the deal was too good to pass up.  The people who were holding the dog said they had found him by the side of the road, so he had already been abandoned at least once before and, based on his behavior, abused as well.  He snapped at people, he was incredibly thin, and there appeared to be something wrong with his skin that resembled eczema. 

My mother gave the dog to her mother-in-law with the explanation that it was to keep my grandfather occupied.  My grandmother accepted the unwanted dog graciously, I presume because she didn't know what else to do.  Then every time my grandfather fled his "jail," Max the dog took off as well.  My grandmother would drive after them, coaxing each into the car with cold hotdogs.  Eventually she told my mother she couldn't do it anymore.  Max created twice the work for her, and she couldn't take care of him anymore.  He became our household's second dog.  Our first dog, Angel, was a sweet dispositioned Cocker Spaniel who we had raised from puppyhood.

I don't remember if it was before Max went to live with my grandparents or after he came back to our house that he mauled me.  He was still new to me, it hadn't occurred to me to be wary of him, and I had leaned down to hug him good night before going to bed like I always did Angel.  I was nine years old.  He had been asleep, I had startled him, and he had woken up taking a small chunk out of my face.  My dad said something along the lines of, "Of course you got bit.  He was asleep," and indicated he'd known exactly what was going to happen when he saw me getting too close to the dog sleeping at his feet.  I wanted to ask why he hadn't said something.  Why hadn't he warned me if he knew this would happen?  Angel didn't bite when I did the same thing.  I didn't know I "had it coming" by hugging the new dog.  Our conversation was cut short when my mother took me to the hospital to get stitches.   

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