Monday, October 1, 2007

More Than A Lap Warmer

I've always been fascinated by tales of pets saving families from impending doom, so when fellow Backspace member, Sandra Kring related this story, I asked if I could include it on my blog. Since I could never do the story justice, she kindly permitted me to copy it here. Take it away, Sandra:

I had a dog for years. Well, my son was supposed to have a dog, but considering that the poor thing would have starved to death had he stayed glued to that master, he decided that I would be his master instead. He was a HUGE golden, 145 lbs, and lazy as the day is long. My son clocked him once—he stood for seventeen whole seconds.

The dog never barked when inside. If he wanted something, he’d whine (mildly), and if he REALLY wanted something, he’d rock (slightly) from side to side while he whined. Mute inside or not, it's not like you can ignore the fact that you have a 145 lb appendage stuck to your side. When I'm writing and have to get up, I make tracks! Not easily done, when you have to wait for a fat pumpkin to roll out of your way first. I bought him a bed in the hopes that he’d keep to his own side of the room, but sooner or later (usually sooner) he’d lumber out of it and flop down at my side. I can’t count the times I landed on the floor because I hadn’t heard him join me, and I tripped over him when I got up quickly. The dog was so quiet that he could even vomit without making noise. He barfed up a whole squirrel at my feet once, without a peep. Unfortunately, I leaned down low to see what it was, since my eyes hadn’t yet adjusted from the brightness of my monitor, to the dimness of the room. Man!

Pesky or not, that dog saved my life. Literally! I was feverishly writing the first book I’d sell, and I had tunnel vision. I sent everyone off on their merry way to work and school, and dug into my story. After a couple of hours, Buppa started whining. He’d already had his breakfast and his morning bark-fest outside, so I told him to go lie down. Up and down he went, in my room, out of my room, staring at me, whining, rocking, and finally, barking. I got up then and followed him. He moved like a bowling ball tossed by The Hulk to the other end of the house, barking at the smoke that was rolling out from under the basement door. I let the dog outside, called the fire department, and then hurried to my room to gather my writing.

The firemen got the fire out before the whole house went up, and other than smoke damage that required all new curtains and fresh paint, and melted pipes that needed to be replaced, all was well. Seriously, as oblivious as I am when writing, that whole house would have gone up in flames and I wouldn’t have noticed until the smoke got too thick for me to see my monitor.

Buppa died two springs ago at the ripe old age of sixteen—so much for obesity and inactivity causing early deaths! He was a pest, but I miss that fat, rocking pumpkin.

Sandra, thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of Buppa (pictured above). He was truly a heroic pumpkin. Stories like Sandra's prove that pets are much more than simple lap warmers and eating machines. In the news:

Earlier this year, a 14 year old Indiana cat awakened the family when carbon monoxide leaked into the home.

In August, a family dog protected four children after a bear wandered into their Vancouver yard.

Just today, my cat chased off a rather large and scary grasshopper.

We see lots of "Dog Saves Owner" headlines, but there are "Owner Saves Dog" stories too. In Hong Kong, Catherine Leonard rescued her dog from becoming a 15 foot python's main squeeze. Catherine doesn't recall exactly what she did to free her beloved pet, but once the adrenalin kicked in, nothing was going to stop her.

I'd like to believe that our pets are similarily motivated, but who knows? When pets smell poisonous gas, they might just be thinking, "Holy crap, I'd better wake up the hairless, two-legged being, or I'm gonna die!"

Next time your at the bookstore, be sure to look for Sandra's books The Book of Bright Ideas and Carry Me Home: A Novel


Heidi the Hick said...

I always had fantasies that my pony would go running back to the house and let my mom know that I was on my back in the middle of the hay field...but no...I guess you don't really consider ponies pets though eh?

My house critters haven't saved me from anything life threatening (no grasshoppers) but I know they see and hear and sense things I don't. I never want to live in a house with no critters!

Lynn Sinclair said...

Sure, ponies are pets. Big pets, but pets nonetheless.

Raggedy Angst said...

I had a golden retriever as a kid. She was almost 17 when she died, so she was with me until I was in graduate school. She still shows up in my dreams from time to time, just checking in. Even if she never warned me about a fire, she saved my life in a lot of little ways. Sort of the heroic opposite of death by a thousand cuts, I guess.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Dogs are great companions for kids--always there, always loving, no matter what. You couldn't ask for a better friend.