When Mom said that she needed to get her knee fixed, I had no idea it would be like this! She left the house on Tuesday morning, and when my friend Margo brought her home a few hours later she had 4 legs alright, but two of them were these clacky things that hung down from her front paw pits and didn’t behave like legs at all! They weren’t even attached to her and didn’t have any knees so they couldn’t jump or dance or wrestle. And one of her meat legs was all wrapped up in bandages and straps and plastic. “Mom! When you said that they were going to tie your leg back together, I thought that you meant on the inside! Not with a bunch of banshee cords and duck tape!”
I’m a brave dog, but Mom’s new legs were terrifying. Whenever she used them to clack and swing herself around the house, I shivered and cowered as far away as I could get and still watch her. Mostly Mom spent a lot of time in bed just like I do, napping and getting bored right there with me. Since her monster leg was in bed with us, I sat on Mom’s shoulder or lay my head on her chest and watched it so that I could bark at it in case it got up and tried to attack one of us. The good thing about me protecting Mom from her monster leg was that we did lots of snuggling and cuddling when The Leg wasn’t watching.
After a few days, when none of the new legs had attacked yet, I started to relax around them. By now Mom didn’t stink like Irish Spring, she stank like the stray humans that do camping on the sidewalk. I was crawling with the ants from my pants. So for the first time in about 4 days, Mom clacked out the front door and to our car and we went for a drive. She drove to the dog beach, where dogs never have to wear leashes, and humans smile at the dogs from other families while they yell at their own, and dogs introduce themselves to humans from other families while avoiding their own.
I barked and chased new friends while I led Mom across the deep sand to a bench. When we got there, Mom sat. For the next while, instead of seeking and chasing adventure like we usually do, we let everyone else’s adventures flow past us. As they passed, I jumped in and out of the best adventures, and let lame adventures pass. In between, I held my head high so that the fresh air could blow into my nose, or visited Mom to let her scratch my butt.
It was funny to see how everyone reacted to Mom’s four legs. The humans that were scared of her told her to be careful, even though she was sitting still just a little ways from the car kennel. A few dogs were scared like me of how her new legs moved, and they barked at her. But most dogs and some humans weren’t scared at all. Some were curious, and came up to sniff her tied-up leg, or ask her what happened. One curious guy smelled her clacky legs and then tried to pee on them before Mom jumped back, and his person shouted. Then the dog peed on a log instead, and the other person looked embarrassed, and Mom laughed.
One human was very confused when he saw Mom. He looked her up and down, taking in her two clacky legs, her tied-up leg, and her meat leg. And then he said, “Are you okay?”
“No, I just noticed that I might have hurt my leg. I think I might need to see a doctor.” Mom didn’t say. “Uh, yeah. I’ve had it checked out already,” Mom did say.
No one ever took special notice of Mom before, but now almost everybody was staring at her. Some of them were nice, but more of them seemed angry or disgusted. It was weird for Mom to be the center of attention, not me.
“Is it a very interesting thing to have your leg tied back together, Mom? Are you going to be famous maybe?” I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t like the idea of Mom being more famous than me just because she’d ripped her leg, which didn’t even take any talent.
“No… I think that maybe some of them are concerned I’ll get hurt, but I think that maybe other people are upset to see a disabled person out doing stuff without help. I bet they don’t even know that they’re upset, but the idea of someone that can’t do as much as them makes them uncomfortable.”
“Why would people be uncomfortable around someone who can do less than them?” I asked.
“I don’t know… I’m just guessing. I’m just as surprised by it as you are.” Then she thought for a long time. “Oscar, what do you do when something makes you uncomfortable? Like when someone speaks French or wears a motorcycle helmet?”
“Well, I bark at it, of course. If something is off, one never knows if it is going to attack, or bark at me, or ask me to take it to my leader.”
“Are you being aggressive?”
“No, I don’t think so. Just cautious.”
“Well I think that people are just being cautious. They see something unexpected and they don’t know if I’m going to attack, or yell at them, or ask them for something. So they just feel cautious. They don’t mean to be rude. It just comes off that way because they don’t know that we’re normal just like them.”
“Well that’s just silly! No one would be scared of a tiny little human like you, Mom.”
“You were scared of me until like two days ago, you blockhead.”
Oscar the Blockhead