The Squirrel & the Dog

It was the squirrel that did me in.

I held it together during my climb, I blinked it away during yoga despite (or perhaps because of?) my intention to “let myself feel,” but when I parked in front of my apartment and saw the squirrel, I lost it.

It had mangy fur and a limp. It hobbled over to a tree, looked up at it, and I could almost see it shaking its head and deciding to cross the street instead.

When I noticed a car coming from the opposite direction, I hurriedly got out of mine and stood awkwardly in the middle of the street, dazed, suddenly ready to throw my body in front of a three thousand pound death machine for a squirrel that looked like that manic rat thing from Ice Age.

The car turned.

The squirrel limped across the street, and I went inside and promptly had a panic attack.

It wasn’t a surprise. My chest had been hurting the past few days, I don’t like New Year’s as a holiday, and my anxiety was high.

I managed to make it to the bathroom, which is my safe place for some reason. (Yay, toilets and grout! The most calming room of any home!) I sat on the floor in the darkness, which I usually do for Dramatic Effect, but this time was because my legs had given out and I couldn’t reach the light switch, only the roll of toilet paper.

I settled in for the exciting and fun process of being hysterical — you know, with the kind of crying where you’re not making any sound because you also can’t breathe, and your mouth is probably curled into an ugly upside-down U. I couldn’t get any air in my lungs, and my body was fizzing, a shaken up seltzer. It was hard to see, although, again, I was sitting in the dark.

It sucked. I was not thrilled to be there.

And then my dog came in.

This in itself wasn’t surprising because she follows me around and likes attention, but this was not my first Bathroom Breakdown, and she’d never done this before. This being standing next to me, staying with me, and snuggling up close to me as I struggled to breathe.

In all honesty, she probably hung around because I was too wrecked to tell her to please stop licking my face with her gross fish mouth, so she was most likely thinking, “Ooh, I will lick Cheese Smell as long as possible because it never lets me do this!”

But regardless, she stayed. She even stopped trying to lick my mouth. And the panic attack that had been gleefully rolling up to an 8 or 9 suddenly dropped down to a 5.

I did the things you’re supposed to do with dogs: I hugged the dog, I pet the dog, I let the dog kiss me, I told her she was a Very Good Girl when I could finally talk again.

Meanwhile, the cat sat on my keyboard and stared at the window blinds. “Sorry, I can’t help, I have this interesting piece of plastic to attend to, get over it.”

It was, perhaps, the quickest panic attack of my life. Thanks to my dog. And yeah, dogs are great, we don’t deserve them, yadda yadda, but this was the first time I had really experienced that, and it made me feel kind of bad for all the times I told her she has wonky eyes.

So we can leave it like this:

A squirrel triggered a panic attack; my dog ended it.

Dogs had it right all along.

1 thought on “The Squirrel & the Dog

  1. In spite of their low tide breath, dogs are the most loyal creatures on earth.
    Good you have one!
    Uncle Jerry


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