The Perils of a Bucket List

Spoiler alert: this is not a typical post. It deals with some challenging and sad or disturbing topics. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to read on. Writing blogs is a way for me to process challenging experiences and emotions. And so, I wrote this one.

I never thought about Pettigrew’s bucket list, but if I had, certainly confronting a mail truck would be at the top.

As he has aged, Pettigrew has let go of many of his old triggers. He no longer flinches when someone goes by on a scooter, sports a set of crutches, or roars past on a motorcycle. Even delivery trucks, once a sure-fire menace, are often noted with equanimity these days. But his hatred of postal workers and their vehicles endures.

As an optimist, or perhaps just a creature driven largely by instinct, Pettigrew lunges and struggles at each and every postal worker/vehicle he sees. Even on days when he is hot. Even on days when he is so tired I’m not sure he has the energy to go around the block. The sight or sound of a postal worker or vehicle causes him to dig deep, tap those inner reserves, and go full tilt, reverting to a reactive, lunging, aggressive dog.

And so it was on Thursday afternoon. A postal worker zoomed past in his truck and Pettigrew made his move. Only this time, unbeknownst to anyone, the clip on Pettigrew’s leash was not securely connected to the sturdy metal ring on his collar. Rather, it was latched to the flimsy wire that held his tags.

He lunged. The wire snapped. The leash fell off. And Pettigrew was free to finally, finally reap his worst.

In the battle of 14-year-old dog vs. mail truck, it’s not the mail truck that comes off poorly.

Tossed 10 to 15 feet, Pettigrew lay as if dead. But then he rallied. He walked home. Where he collapsed.

We rushed him to the animal clinic. It was an interminable, 35-minute drive. We thought he was going to expire before we got there. But he didn’t.

The staff at first thought he would need emergency surgery to manage internal bleeding. But he didn’t.

They stabilized him.

They kept him overnight.

We were warned we might get a call in the wee hours of the morning and be faced with a choice no one wants to have to make.

Pettigrew eating from my hand while resting in the yard.

The call never came.

When we called at 6 am we were told he went for a walk (?!?) during the night.

We picked him up and brought him home. We are forever grateful to the wonderful staff at Blue Pearl Pet Hospital and the care they gave Pettigrew.

Pettigrew is not out of the woods. He is not all OK. He is slowly, incrementally improving.  This next week will be important and we are aware he could take a sudden turn.

For now, we are happy to have him home. To let him lie in the sunny spots on the grass in the backyard. To see him ensconced under the dining room table. In short, to be in his space and with his people.

8 thoughts on “The Perils of a Bucket List

  1. What is Pettigrew’s problem with Postal trucks? Does he react the same way with FedEx trucks? UPS? Amazon? Is he one of those MAGA dogs who is anti-government? Did the USPS forget to deliver a Chanukah present one year? Very perplexing but I wish him well.


  2. He used to respond to all trucks with the same level of dislike, but as he’s aged, he’s really focused his energies on the mail carriers as the true banes of his existence.


  3. My heart and thoughts are with Pettigrew and the whole family; that must have been terrifying and agonizing. Wishing him a full and speedy recovery, so he may long continue his valiant and tireless job of protecting your household from the tyrannies of the mail.

    (Please don’t tell him about email.)


  4. Thanks for your kind wishes. Fortunately, he does appear to be something of a luddite and has no interest in email. So far, we are cautiously encouraged by his recovery. We led him into the backyard last night and left him lying down in the grass. When we went back to bring him in, we discovered he had made it on his own back to the house, up the three steps on to the porch, and then up on to the sofa on the porch. When we came out he was sitting there, body arranged naturally, head erect. We were stunned and so encouraged. This morning it was step by painful, slow step to get him into the backyard again. But clearly he is moving in the right direction!

    Liked by 1 person

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