“Shhhh...be quiet. You hear that, Donnelly? I can hear a yelping from the distance. It sounds like a coyote or dog is hurt.”
Doing a quick survey of the land, I put my hand above my eyes to block the glare from the sun bouncing off the white, packed snow and gazed out into the cow-spotted pasture surrounding my mother’s double-wide. I grabbed my coat and we dashed out into the meadow. Pulling the barbed wire up for Donnelly, I said,
“I know the farmer back there sets coyote traps. Spot (our extraordinarily adoring German Shepard) may be caught in one.”
Spot, a family man, was a dog that joined in family pictures. A protector, a companion, a confidant and a forever-friend kind of dog. While he was my brother, Chad’s, dog, he and I had been through the thick of life together; I wasn’t going to lose him now. I couldn’t allow him to become part of some out-for-blood farmer’s breakfast stories.
We were hiking, seemingly for hours, through the thick, Oklahoma briar when the yelp became louder and Donnelly said, “There he is, sure enough, caught in a coyote trap!”
“I told you!” I declared.
As the Alpha male of the community, Spot loved to roam the area. In fact, the General he was, he was probably making his rounds on the lookout for threats to the dog troops when he was blasted by the trap.
As the years of close companionship with him flashed before my watering eyes, I asked him, “Spot, what did you get yourself into now, boy?”
He looked up at me with those puppy dog eyes of his as if to say, “Get me out of here; I have to finish my rounds.” That dog was awesome! He was devoted to protecting about a five mile radius, this dog of dogs.
As I began to try to pull the trap off his wounded leg, with each pull he would let out an ear-piercing cry, followed by a pseudo-bite (half bite, half ‘do whatever you have to, just get me out of here’). Obviously he didn’t want to eat me; (like the store owner protected the wounded legs of the turn-of-the-century dresser) he was just protecting a very tender, very hurt part of his body.
In much the same manner, after rehab it seemed like something went wrong with everything I did (like I was caught in a trap while doing my rounds on the lookout for any threats...to myself mainly). I had messed up so much, it seemed like everything needed more and more attention. Attention that I couldn’t spare. My future looked too jammed for me to tackle; I didn’t know how to have any kind of lasting relationships; my credit was horrible; work history stunk; and, it seemed I was swimming in a sea of debt. Heck, at that time, before rescuing him, it wouldn’t have been too far-fetched to ask Spot if I owed him money. To boot, times in the double-wide were tough. We had to take baths out of pots and fill buckets up with water from convenient stores because we couldn’t pay the utility bills to keep the electric and water on. And the worst part of it—I now had to deal head-on with all the problems I had been avoiding. It’s no wonder I cracked when confronted or when people didn’t—or couldn’t—understand what I was going through.
Looking back, I can now see that the image I had of people and my reactions to them were being eclipsed by my own untamed past and stressful circumstances. A wild, wounded soldier blindfolded in a foreign land.
(While the author is a licensed professional counselor, this is not an attempt to provide therapy or any other form of professional treatment, not even a bit. The writings are merely the author’s experiences on overcoming anxiety, depression, and on life and therapy in general. And in no way are they an effort to provide counseling or any other professional services. If you need professional help, by golly, seek it out...you and your family deserve it!)