I’ve placed a finger in soft ball syrup (234 degrees, on purpose, in cooking school) and handled footballs of 700 degree bread tossed at me to rack (bare hands), on purpose as well in my apprenticeship.
The dumbest thing I ever did was slice a roll with a serrated knife to put together my dinner for one and sliced off the top of my right middle finger. I wrapped it in paper towels and and held it above my heart to slow the bleeding and called friends about a minute’s walk away.
By the time I got there, their dining table was decked out like an ER. Husband had been an Army Ranger. Wife sat in the den, detesting the sight of blood. She was turned away from me but talking to me the entire time.
First he placed wet green tea bags on my finger to stop the bleeding, then he bandaged me. I actually went to and graduated from the first pet emergency course in the country because of him.
I was driving a 1993 Army Jeep at the time and for weeks every time I shifted gears I re-opened the wound. It wasn’t until I went swimming in the Greek seas that the salt finally bound everything together. I remember that day as if it was yesterday, yet it was over 15 years ago and they saved me.
When my dog unexpectedly died, they saved me again. I rushed her to the hospital as she bled out. Friends showed up at the dog hospital. I decided on euthanasia because she was in such pain. They left me alone with her after the anaesthesia and she stood up five times on the table and I talked her down. No nurse or doctor was available and I couldn’t leave her side because she would fall.
We said our goodbyes and while I was paying the bill, the vet came out and confirmed my diagnosis and I gave him a big hug.
The moment I arrived home, I called my dear friends immediately, as we met because of our dogs and I took care of their dog when they were out of town. Army Ranger answered and I asked if he was sitting down. Said I lost Chani. He said “I’ll be right over and we’ll find her.” “No. she’s gone.”
What can I do, he asked. I said “pour me a nice glass of wine.” We played Keystone Kops for five minutes as I did the 30-second short-cut to their house, he called his wife to get home from work and he went the long route to my house with a priceless glass and fine California Cab.
He asked what happened and I told him the saga of my 89 lb. dog falling out my door and me calling the tile man from down the street to help place her in my Jeep. He left me and got on the phone. He had asked where she’d be buried. I said I didn’t know. He called the vet so he and his wife could pay for her to be individually cremated and the ashes given to me.
They posted signs in the park with their favorite poem they’d used for their dog Ryan, which is how we all met. Over 40 friends and neighbors donated a tree to my dog’s memory in her favorite park. I seldom visit, but when I do I leave flowers and water her tree, which has a gorgeous view and they let me toss in a piece of her favorite tennis ball before they filled the hole.
Chani is that park, along with Makai, Ryan, Gus, Sunnegga, Joey, Savannah, Gigi, Woody, Banquo, Harley and many others. Gigi’s “dad” married us and ten years later we attended his burial at his alma mater in Annapolis.
Even when I get into cooking incidents (Ok, cousin John, you don’t need to tell everyone about the raw chicken I served you) there are friends to help out. As I watch the sun come up and plan the day, I think there may be changes coming and we do not have the people here that we did 15 years ago where I can water a tree and run into a lifelong friend.
Where’s the Army Ranger when we need him? And thanks, tile man, if you’re reading this. Cheers and have a great day.