Monday, May 7, 2012
Dog with Spots 2001
Home for the summer between my sophomore and junior year in college, I was out on a walk in the rural neighborhood where I had grown up when I came across two pure white German Shepards. A male and a female, they were very thin, and both had porcupine quills around their muzzles and into their mouths and throats. Happy to find me, they followed me home without any hesitation. Once outside our front door, I called to my parents. Without much fanfare, Nick, my stepfather, brought out gloves, pliers, and a bowl of warm, soapy water--we had been through this drill before. The two dogs were good, letting us remove most of the quills and wipe the blood away with a damp towel. My mother and I held and comforted while Nick did the heavy pulling. Once done, my mother filled two bowls of dog food for the two, which they ate with huge, heaving gulps. We put the word out, and within a few days the grateful owners were found.
That summer I was intensely angry. I had spent my sophomore year in college at UCSB in Santa Barbara. It was the year of the Kent State bombings, and on our campus the Bank of America had been burned, a student shot and killed in the process. The upstairs duplex where I lived with three female roommates was a hotbed of activity: two of my roommates dated black panthers who stored dynamite in our garage, the third was friends with "Roger Red Devil" who alternated between Methamphetamines and Seconal. Most nights our living room was filled with weed smoking activists planning the revolution while selling/buying drugs from Roger. When I returned to New Mexico for summer break, I was a different person--a very angry and intense different person.
It's only now, 40 years later, that I realize that I was suffering from PTSD(post traumatic stress syndrome). I was in trouble but didn't know it, and had been ready to go back and wage the war, fight the good battle. However, when I found those two pure white dogs something nudged my consciousness and told me to listen up. It was the way my parents had immediately known what to do with the dogs, and it was the care and love they showed--without any hesitation--that made me understand that was where I needed to be, home, healing. So, because of a pair of German Shepards, I stayed home that fall, got a job selling Indian Jewlery, wrote my memoirs about my year in Santa Barbara, and healed, slowly but surely.