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The Dog That Glows In The Dark

 

We have a bedtime ritual at our house. Most nights we (me, Mom, Cricket and Butterfly) stay up to watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. When the last show is over I say “The end” and turn off the TV. The dogs start to stretch and walk towards the hallway. Mom complains that she’s too tired to get up from the couch. I turn off the lamp by my computer, and then the air conditioner, and head off to brush my teeth.

"Where are you going, Mommy?"

“Where are you going, Mommy?”

By the time I’m ready for bed, Mom has turned all of the lights off, including the hallway, dining room and kitchen lights. I have to go looking for Butterfly, because she still can’t climb up her doggy steps (though she can race down them in a second), but Butterfly has taken to waiting for me at the end of the hallway and then twirling a bit in the dark and flattening down near the front door. She is bright white and therefore glows in the dark, so I can always find her, but, as neon as she is, nothing else in the room glows. So, the other night, as I bent down to pick her up, I smacked my eye against the back of a wooden chair. Correction, smacked my glasses, which smacked my eye and nose and the surrounding orbital socket.

Butterfly waiting in the dark.

Butterfly waiting in the dark.

The pain was extraordinary and I made some bizarre animal sounds and both dogs came over and Mom turned on the light to see where I was. I thought I was going to vomit, but I sat down on the floor, then flattened out, and the girls sniffed my head for injuries.

The curious puppies

The curious puppies

My immediate thoughts and feelings were anger – damn it chair! Damn it dog! Damn it Mom! And then there was some self pity, as in, why do these ridiculous things always happen to me?

Cricket was not impressed.

Cricket was not impressed.

As soon as I could stand up, I went to lie down on my bed with an ice pack on my eye, and the puppies by my side, and Mom standing over me looking very concerned. The thing I didn’t expect was the sobbing. It wasn’t a specific, wordy, list of anxieties or resentments, it was simply very loud sobbing, mixed with attempts at humor, and laughing, and asking why I was crying in the first place. I had to push hard to put the feelings into words, and guess where they’d come from and attach them to things I could reasonably be upset about.

Something about the sudden pain, or the shock, or where the injury hit my brain opened a whole capsule of emotions, and I was crying and whining and suddenly feeling hopeless about everything in my life, as if the physical pain were attached to a set of emotional fish hooks I didn’t even know were there.

The episode passed in less than an hour, but it made me wonder about the biological, or at least physiological, origins of emotional pain.

Physical and emotional pain seem to run over the same circuits in the central nervous system – which is why they’ve found that Tylenol can lift your mood and Prozac can reduce your knee pain. Many chronic diseases cause emotional pain, especially depression, simply by using up your Serotonin trying to relieve the physical pain, so that there isn’t enough Serotonin left to cushion even the smallest emotional upset.

By the next day my eye only hurt when I pressed on the area, and I had a small bruise against my nose from my glasses. The only lasting effect has been that I refuse to follow Butterfly into the dark to pick her up. If Mom insists on turning all of the lights off half a second after I leave the couch, and Butterfly insists on running into the dark to play chase, then that little puppy will just have to sleep on the floor.

Butterfly, snuggling next to a bone, on the floor.

Butterfly, snuggling next to a bone.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

108 responses »

  1. I’ve gotten numerous dog related injuries over the years. Most embarrassing is probably the shelter pup who pulled me down into the mud lunging after a squirrel which bruised my backside!

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  2. I have done similar things too, glad you put the ice pack on which helped.And it is always good to have the warmth of a dog to help with the healing 🙂

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  3. this reminds me of so many things. you have to make her stop turning off the light.

    my grandmother used to come over for dinner & take the plates away , before we finished. it was such a funny joke to tell . no one made her stop…i have no seratonin in my brain to begin with, dr’s are always trying to give me medicine to make seratonin,since i was 28/fibromyalgia alone..since i have none .it isn’t funny. i would ask my grandmother & your mother to stop.say, you see what happens, in the dark.

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  4. My dogs pulled me in separate directions on a walk and I put out my back. I hope your eye is healing. I can’t imagine the pain. Carol

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    • Cricket has been trying to cause walk injuries for years, but when we’re outside I stay on my guard. She managed to trip her Grandma the other day by wrapping her leash around a few different legs. I think she was proud of herself.

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  5. We get our share of dog related injuries around here too. Comes with the territory.

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  6. Sorry to read that you had a dog-related injury, Rachel. But, darn, those two pups of yours sure are sweet! And I’m sure they were quite concerned about your injury. And, BTW, I didn’t know that physical and emotional pain run over the same circuits in the central nervous system — that’s really interesting! 🙂

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    • That’s part of why depressed people are often in physical pain as well.It’s not just because they like to whine. Though whining is fun!

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      • You have no idea how happy I am to have this correlation between depression and pain — both of which I fight … and I love to whine, so now I have a reason! On the upside, I dragged myself to a gym, started with a trainer, and it was instant relief! Of course I am sore, but I got some zip back and I can see that I still have some positive energy hiding under all the pounds of allowing pain and depression to control me!

      • Exercise, when you can do it, is a wonderful thing! I’m so glad I was able to give you a little peace of mind to work from. The more we understand how our minds and bodies really work, the less susceptible we’ll be to people who want to be judgmental and snotty about things they don’t understand.

  7. I wish I glowed in the dark I know our routine, my parentswithoutpaws goes to bed so early that the only thing they run into is the toilet for their last buisness attempt. We get up at 5am every morning because we have other citters, we live on a small farm. I have to get up before the chickens to eat breakfast and do my buisness. so I can help dadwithoutpaws to check ont he chickens and Esther the goat. You have it easy.. woof

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  8. Ouch! I’m glad it wasn’t serious. And I’m sure butterfly was very sorry she caused that. We have night-lights scattered through the house. We’re getting older and we don’t bounce as well as we used to. And our Heeler is very good about picking a spot that takes up the whole width of the hallway (it’s the herding instinct I think – she has to be where she can see everyone). And she’s brindled so well-camouflaged. And our other dog is black.

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  9. ouch! my sympathies. I had a dog-inspired black eye a month or so ago. Funny how, no matter what I look like she loves me all the same.

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    • Thank you! I never knew these dog related injuries were so common. I worry that Cricket has been sharing gossip on this subject for years, wishing she could join in on the fun.

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      • I spent nearly 60 years with a terror of dogs. Often fighting depression, when my wife died as a result of violence; it turned to PTSD (& continuing heart failure). Then a young friend moved in with me (daughterly relationship!) which helped. She rescued a Giant Schnauzer puppy, Ivy. She, Ivy, gets me as close to joy as is possible – in spite of black eyes, scratches, my nose nearly broken again. She is my love but I wish sometimes she was Cricket’s size, even just a standard Schnauzer. Last night 25kg of black fur, pink tongue, white teeth decided to show her love by flying into my dozing lap. Sweet but…
        Like others, as an old man with a black dog: Get thee to a nightlight store.

      • Cricket is a big fan of the run and jump and land on sleeping human trick. I am always grateful that she is only 15 pounds, otherwise there would be a lot of broken ribs around here.

  10. Maybe Butterfly will learn to climb her doggy steps. Although, she looks so darn cute snuggled next to that bone! “Cricket was not impressed” reminds me of that Olympic gymnast who was not impressed. I think I can see Cricket smirking… 🙂

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  11. try jack lamps 4 wall mount… 😉

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  12. my computer has gone mishuginah. it typed a lot of capital letters ,in last reply,without me touching the shift button. i would buy a computer that did that.

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  13. I can’t count the numbers of times I’ve tripped over my dogs in the dark. And my husband has fab night vision, so he has no problem turning lights off — then I go down over a dog I can’t see, and he doesn’t get it b/c he can see fine…*facepalm*

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  14. A dogger related injury, ouch! I swear our dogger will inadvertently kill me one day. He sneaks up and sits behind me in the kitchen when I am cooking (he is a scrounge hound). If I don’t realise he is there, I trip over him. Dangerous doggies.

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  15. A loving cat can do you in, too. I broke a toe once over Sasha rubbing against my leg on the stairs. If we didn’t love our pets so much, we wouldn’t put up with them and the damage they do. But we do. And yes, ice is always a good idea for reducing swelling and numbing pain.

    Don’t turn up your nose at Aleve, either. (It was named for “alleviate.”) Unless the capsule of emotions spilling out from the pain was actually a good thing. Do you think it was? In which case, maybe Butterfly deserves some thanks.

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    • Butterfly always deserves thanks, and she probably gets herself injured more than she causes injuries. She’s always bumping into my legs, or pieces of furniture. It’s a mix of terrible spatial relations skills and gradually aging eyes. But she never complains. Sometimes I wish she would complain a bit more.

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  16. It’s funny how dogs settle into a routine based on your behaviour! Sorry you hit your head! 🙂 I’ve had moments when my emotions have gone loopy because of something as silly as stubbing my toe on a chair hehehe

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  17. Oh my. I recommend a flashlight. Sorry for your pain

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  18. Why do these things always happen to you? I’m Scottish, not Jewish, so I don’t know all the nuances and if the word “schlemazel” applies in your case. My peep has those tendencies-He’s always the first car stopped by a red light and has to wait for the entire cycle before He can go again. There’s no wonder He hates city streets and loves freeways.

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  19. Glasses related knocks are always painful for some reason! Hope you’re feeling better now.

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  20. So sorry that happened to you.

    You have such a talent. Writing with humor and vivid descriptions.

    Thanks for sharing your events and pup happenings. So often I am reading and relating to your words. By the way, you are not the only one who smacked their head. I did it on the bathroom sink. Only worse since it was broad daylight.

    My patents were visiting and we were going for a picnic lunch for Mother’s Day. I bent down to put lotion on my legs and hit the sink above my eye.

    I came out of the bathroom and both my folks were reading the paper paying no attention to me got ice on it and a towel for blood. I was new to the area and trying to find the hospital in the phone book.

    When I told my dad he needed to take me to the ER. He said,” are you sure?” My reply was that it is my eye and face. Gonna need stitches. I did get 3 stitches and then we went on our picnic lunch.

    Have a great day.

    Laura

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  21. So sorry to hear fo your collision.
    Glow in the dark doggy reminds me of our night walks, as it’s difficult to see a black dog in the dark.
    It was OK with us wearing our yellow jackets, so we bought one for Maggie too. We also attached a flashing light that could be seen (so they said, and it was true) from half a mile away.
    When going through my card making kit, I found some reflective ‘paws’, one of which was ideal for putting over the obsolete phone number on her collar disc.
    So now not only does she glow, she flashes and reflects!

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  22. Also a good lesson in setting the boundaries and you did well.

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  23. I can so relate. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to avoid stepping on paws and almost landed flat on my face. I too move around in the dark to avoid waking my sleepy hubby and the results are often bruises of different shapes and sizes. I’m not an owl. I’m glad to know you didn’t get a black eye!

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  24. Oh it even hurts while reading…. that must be a horrible pain. I felt the same as Easy gave me a shiner with his tail once …

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  25. As a Creative Arts / Movement Psychotherapist I know that all of our emotions are connected with our physical bodies and conversely different physical body regions are connected with (sometimes specific) emotions. As a person with chronic health issues I know that my moods can swing from happy to sad very easily; particularly when I go bump in the night; I feel foolish, inept, and remember when I had more control over myself and various bits didn’t bruise quite so easily. I often react/respond the same as you, a strong and intense cry, enough to soak my pillow part way, after which I remind myself that crying is a physical, mental and emotional release, the brain produces more serotonin by crying and tears are very good for the skin; natural and slightly salty moisturizer.

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  26. Been there and done that same thing. Things do get better in the long run.

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  27. This reminds me of what my daddy used to say all the time, When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember your initial objective was to drain the swamp.
    I’m so very sorry for your pain…such a tiny word for such a powerful hurt. Hm…I wonder if my wellbutrin works on mosquito bites? 🙂
    Take care of yourself.

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  28. When I got Sam, I already owned 2 (yes, that’s not a typo) Old English Sheepdogs so I can readily identify with the whole “moving targets in the dark phenomena” and safety issues. Eventually we sorted out night time rituals so I didn’t end of in the ER every week but not before a few bruises occurred. Hopefully you won’t have any more head conks or stepped on pups. Feel better soon and be safe! A small easily removed jingle bell on a collar might be an answer for when the lights are off.

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  29. Ouuuuuuch! Shock and pain. Hope your bruise has heeled. Moke x

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  30. Your story reminds me of earthquake pain. It seems that there’s an uptick in visits to mental health providers after a big earthquake. I guess having the foundations shake makes our other defenses fall.

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  31. Glad to hear you’re feeling better now. 🙂

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  32. Sounds like Miss Butterfly needs to wear a reflective doggie jacket like the ones crossing guards have. Then she’ll really “glow in the dark.” 🙂

    Hope you’re on the mend.

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  33. I feel your pain. The other day I dropped my beer and it spilled all over the floor. The tears came and for hours I was unable to stop shaking and crying. And the anger! It was the last of the six pack. I cursed the heavens and gravity and people who quarry tile and sweat on my fingers. I wanted to blame the dog but he doesn’t like that brand of beer.

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  34. I didn’t mean I “liked” that you hit your eye. Ouch! That hurt I know. But I can identify with your emotions. Such a good story and I agree “the dog can sleep on the floor at that point.”

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  35. Could your dogs be any cuter?! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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  36. Thank you for this most interesting and informative post!
    Pearly Greyhound glows in the dark as well – she puts me in mind of the Milgwn, ghostly greyhounds who are said to haunt the Welsh mountains near where I live.

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  37. Perhaps either a nightlight or a flashlight would come in handy? I’m glad to hear your injury was neither serious nor permanent.

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  38. Butterfly and Cricket need attachable night lights that can hook on their collars. My black lab Marshall was the king of relocating in our bedroom and in the middle of the night and when I would get up to go to the bathroom I would trip over him and he would calmly raise his head and probably looked at me thinking what is wrong with you Maman? Our puppies are pieces of work sometimes I tell you but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

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  39. Sorry about your eye.
    We keep a very soft light on all night in the lounge-room. It shines enough light to reduce the risk of accidents.
    Take care 🙂

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  40. Sometimes when things like this happen–a physical jolt causing an emotional outburst or release–I take it as a sign that there is an issue I need to address; in other words, the emotions are a signal that I might be feeling frustrated or sad or whatever the emotions are about. The release of itself is helpful then, plus I am alerted to my needs. I used to blow up, say, if my beautiful Emily (petite female cat but with a marking instinct, would make a ‘mark’ inappropriately. I’ve mainly gotten past those sorts of outbursts because my love for her is greater and I don’t want to make her even more nervous. Emotions are so human, so that is good…we need sometimes just to let them through!

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  41. I remember one time when my AmStaff started to really grow and get to big for me to walk (I was in denial still thinking he was a puppy). He took off after something and in an attempt not to let go of the leash I did a dive into gravel and was pulled a little before he realized that something had happened and stopped. I was bruised and bleeding even on my chest. I no longer attempt to walk him. As far as physical and emotional pain being connected, I know from personal experience that they are. The worse I’m hurting (physically) the worse I feel and tend to get depressed. Also, when stressful events happen, my pain also reacts and tends to flare up.

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    • That was supposed to be “get too* big for me to walk”…sorry for the typo.

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    • My Mom so wanted a big dog, back before we found Cricket. She was thinking about Golden retrievers and Labradors and Irish wolfhounds, but she’d been having trouble managing our forty-five pound black lab mix. I had to tell her, gently, that eighty pounds (or more) of dog might be a bit too much for her. Your drag along the gravel is exactly what I was picturing, nightmare-like, each time she gave me her “but why not?” look.

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      • It’s not easy. At least now I have a fenced in back yard so that I don’t have to walk him. The only problem now is when he has to go to the vet. I definitely have to have help for that. Big dogs are a big responsibility!

  42. It Sounds so painful and it’s hard to not want to kick the wall, we have to blame something! better to blame
    Here’s an experience I had.
    While visiting my son the whole family was gone for the evening, right after they left I fell down a flight of stairs, breaking 2 ribs and a leg.
    I literally was screaming in pain loudly and crying for the whole three hours they were gone. Their dog Rocky knowing something was very wrong with me but he didn’t know how to fix it . He sat down at my ,feet offered sympathy, concern and he let me know I wasn’t alone. He never moved or left my side for the whole time they were gone three hours or more as I screamed bloody murder He was confused but protected me ,Comfort ed me, and let me know I wasn’t alone someone cared. Knowing that got me through those long hours.He’d give a little whimper every once in a while, he was sad that I was hurting. Rocky you’re my hero!!

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    • They’ve done a remake of the old commercial “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” but now it’s shot like a horror movie. It’s just like what happened to you, except without the dog and with all of the lights in the house suspiciously off. Rocky is clearly a hero, now if only he’d known how to call an ambulance. Paw phones: the next big thing!

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  43. I can’t believe that I got cut off again the phone sent the message so I don’t know what I’ve said before but probably repeating myself. Anyway I guess the jest of what I was trying to say was that our animals can cause havoc and make us laugh at the same time , but whenever we’re sick or in pain or something is wrong and they are concerned and disturbed about that and really do try to make us better. I know you’ve experienced that as we i’ll have. And even their funny crazy antics are cause of encouragement because when you smile or laugh, It makes you feel better . fAnd later we look back at all their antics and we still smile and have a little chuckle over . We had a little dachshund , who our cat constantly taunted, she’d get on the other side of the fence where they couldn’t get her, just out of their reach and she would egg them on , driving them crazy because they couldn’t get at her, she almost seemed like she was sticking out tongue at them and saying “,
    Ha
    Ha you can’t get me” she knew the exact spot to sit so she was closest to the fence but they couldn’t get her. Once in a while the dogs would see our cat when a door open ed and shoot out tat open door after her , with us racing after them all trying to catch them before they Hurt the cat. But before we could catch up, We’de always hear this loud yelp ,that cat would scratch That dachshund every time , then we noticed that when another chase was on, she started yelping before she even caught up with the cat , because she knew she was gonna get scratched and it would hurt but she just didn’t care the race was more fun than the unpleasant scratch she knew she was coming . That’s funny crazy dog is that crazy dog! Barb

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  44. Shared this great post on Twitter 🙂

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  45. Ouch! I’m glad you’re okay and that your glasses acted as a bit of a protective barrier for your eye. Sometimes we need a good bout of sobbing to cleanse our emotional beings. 🙂

    Reply

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