Pettigrew is a reactive dog; he transforms into a raging beast when faced with a variety of triggers: postal workers and their trucks, dogs, cats, motorcycles, skateboarders, people on crutches, etc.
Calmness is contagious my father says. Given his reactivity, I never thought I would be catching calmness from Pettigrew.
This week he, once again, proved me wrong. The ‘Grew has untold depths!
I strained my back. There was no single moment where I felt a twinge. One morning when I woke up, it hurt. A lot. True, the previous weeks we had been moving furniture, carrying desks down stairs, swapping out pictures, you get the idea.
But I had been good. I crouched and lifted furniture with my leg muscles. I called in help if something felt heavy.
Plus, I’ve been exercising! My son invited me to be his workout buddy and we have been alternating weights one day, core work the next. So, all things considered, I’ve been behaving responsibly. Strained backs were not part of my plan.
Yet, it happened.
Mornings were the worst. Over the course of the day, things loosened up and by nighttime I was usually fine. But, the next day, bam, there would be that now familiar pain.
My body responds to pain in its own special way. Some types of pain are no problem. I can handle a lot. But others knock me flat with little effort. I have this condition called vasovagal syncope, which means that I may faint from pain. One time my husband accidentally stepped on my toes with his slippers…slippers. It felt like he’d dropped an anvil on my feet.
It was only a matter of time before my back triggered an episode so, one morning when I felt blood draining from my face, cold clammy sweat popping out on my skin, and my vision blurring, I dropped to the floor. And lay there, waiting, until my body could recover.
I happened to be in the dining room and, from my new vantage point, discovered Pettigrew stretched out under the table. We watched each other through the chair legs, then he got up, came over, licked my face, circled a few times before he found the right spot, and settled down again, head on his paws, eyes on me. Big. Brown. Calm eyes. Patient eyes. This is temporary, they said. It will pass. Nothing to get alarmed about.
And, like that, his calmness became mine.
The contagion of calm indeed.