STONE AND CANVAS©️
Written by Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
Not long after I arrived home from Canada I felt confident enough to walk alone to the gas station. Within half a block I noticed dogs heading my way. By the time I got to the corner there was a quarry dog having a fling in town, familiar local ones and a strange dog, maybe lost by travellers or abandoned in town.
They appeared to be heading for me. I felt a wave of confusion. I could not sense their mood and they began to draw together like a pack. I whispered to myself, “Does healing skin smell like raw meat to dogs?” Then I envisioned myself being devoured by them. I wanted to bolt but I found my panic accelerated brain trapped in a slow moving body. I wanted to holler for help but there was no one in sight to hear me. Every nerve below my calves pounded. I closed my eyes and waited to feel sharp, white enamel teeth clamp into my new skin.
Instead, I felt a wonderful warmth and soft fur against my legs above the bandages. I opened my eyes and saw big dogs and small, circling round and round my legs, pausing only to take deep sniffs at the bandages. The doctor and Shirley had been very concerned about possible infection so I wondered what would happen to me if the dogs marked their territory into the bandages.
For several moments I stood watching until I could limp on to the station, escorted by my strange retinue.
During the healing months I had more canine appeal than a pink poodle in the pound. A Great Dane, two Weimeramers, German Shepherds, a poodle, mongrels and a Chihuahua — males and females alike rushed to me day after day. They were so attentive, sweet and gentle, even those who were, in the past particularly threatening — the two Weimeramers and the Devil’s spawn, the Chihuahua.
Time for the heavy bandages to come off. The soft warm protective cuffs were suddenly gone. Despite warm weather my bare legs and feet in Burks felt so cold, exposed and vulnerable.
The next time I walked to the 76 station, as usual the dogs headed toward me. Once again I was terrified and concluded, all this time they have been waiting to get at my flesh, waiting to eat my new skin. I was blind with fear and stood, once again frozen to the ground waiting for the dogs to bite. Then a warm soft moist tongue wrapped itself around my ankle and the gang began to thoroughly wash my feet and legs.
For several weeks, until my new skin kept breaking and needed to be rewrapped in gauze bandages, every time I walked to the station or to Zetler’s I was scrubbed by the best of them and the worst of them: high stepping pedigreed purebreds and bone wracked lost dogs, feeble old dears and roly-poly puppies.
They all tried hard to make my burns and my heart heal . . . .