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Butterfly Almost Gave Grandma a Heart Attack

 

Butterfly’s collar started out a lovely powder pink, to match her girly personality, and ended up washed out and grey. Same with the leash, but much worse. Butterfly’s body produces an inordinate amount of oily sweat, and something about this substance breaks down the fabric in her collars. The leash problem is more my fault, because she needs to dance and twirl and run on her way to pooping, and it’s just easier to let go of the leash in the backyard and let her drag it behind her. I don’t know if it was the mud and grass, or the endless trips through the washing machine, but something killed her leashes fast.

For her birthday this year I decided to replace both. We found a leather collar in a bright pink, with silver studs on it, and a bungee cord of a leash that will never be destroyed. The collar seemed to be little a loose to me, but Mom said not to worry, that the stiffness of the leather would keep it in place. I still listen to my mom. I mean, she’s MOM!

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Butterfly is wearing her new collar here. You can see how much she loves it.

We decided to inaugurate the new collar and leash by taking both dogs out for a walk around the neighborhood. Butterfly prefers to stay in the backyard and listen to the birds, but Cricket needs adventure, and Butterfly can use the exercise, so, every once in a while, I insist.

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She’s already got her paws on the new leash!

As usual, as soon as we got to the edge of the backyard, Butterfly put on the breaks. She gave me her “Are you trying to kill me?” look, and I had to pull on her leash to move her even an inch at a time past the dreaded corner. When she’s feeling really stubborn, I just pick her up and carry her, and hope she will relent before my back gives out, and she was feeling particularly stubborn that day.

I carried her around the corner and up past the Seven-Eleven, where Cricket started to bark at coffee addicts and big trucks and children in strollers. I put Butterfly down and hoped she would be distracted by the cacophony of odors outside of a local restaurant.

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“I think somebody interesting peed here!”

Mom was busy arguing with Cricket, about the social niceties of NOT barking at strangers, so I focused on trying to convince Butterfly that walking was a good thing. I’d tug on the leash and she’d walk a few steps, and then she’d sit down and yank her (very powerful) neck to let me know I was a really bad Mommy. Then I’d tug again, she’d walk another few steps, and stop. After a while, I stopped even looking back. I just faced forward and pulled.

And then there was no struggle. Ahh, I thought, she’s finally enjoying her walk. But when I turned around to check on her, all that was left at the end of her new leash was a bright pink collar. No dog.

I looked up, past Mom and Cricket, and saw the receding plume of Butterfly’s white tail. She was on her way home. Alone.

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“You mean this tail, Mommy?”

My mind was running in too many different directions, with all of the thoughts whirling and refusing to stand still. I was in a panic that Butterfly would get hit by a car; I was angry at Mom for telling me not to worry about the loose collar; I felt horribly guilty for dragging Butterfly on a walk she didn’t want; I was embarrassed that it was all happening in public. I couldn’t make one thought come through, except for the need to scream and ask for help. So I screamed, “Mom!”

Mom gave me Cricket’s leash and started to run after Butterfly herself. My mother doesn’t run, nor should she run, but I was too shocked to remind her.

I took Cricket’s leash, but I was still frozen, and confused, and Cricket tried to take advantage of my in-between state to take charge and pull me up the hill. But arguing with Cricket is familiar and it helped my brain click back in. We had to dodge cars again as we walked past the Seven-Eleven parking lot, and I watched helplessly as Butterfly ran down the sidewalk, and around the corner, following the exact route home, with Grandma on her tail.

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Cricket likes to control the leash, too.

By the time we caught up with them, Grandma was sitting on the stoop in front of our building, breathless, with a smiling Butterfly standing at her knees. Butterfly let me put her collar back on without an argument, and I took both girls up the hill to finish their walk while Grandma took some deep breaths by herself.

When we got back inside, we fixed the collar right away, punching a new hole in the leather so that Butterfly couldn’t pull her head through again. And then Mom went to bed, with Cricket guarding her back, to make sure she stayed alive through her nap, of course, and probably also to keep the dastardly Butterfly away.

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“Who me?”

I’m not sure what lesson to learn from all of this. Maybe, Don’t listen to Mom, or, Don’t force Butterfly to do things she doesn’t want to do, or, Cricket is the most adaptable member of this family (!!!!!!!)! Maybe the lesson is simply to take each adventure as it comes, and know that you can always take a nap afterwards, with or without Cricket standing guard.

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Cricket guarding Grandma.

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About rachelmankowitz

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

103 responses »

  1. Glad for the happy ending! Hopefully Grandma has fully recovered now too. 😉

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  2. This is exactly why we use harnesses instead of collars.

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  3. I love happy endings; nobody got hurt.

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  4. Love your stories Rachel, Butterfly is a very lucky dog to have made it home safely and to have such an empathetic “Mom”. You are already a writer.

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  5. Oh my – I have been there with my two dogs! That near heart-attack-panic when they are all of a sudden in danger and they don’t have any idea because all they can think of is home or food or whatever their focus is at the moment!! So glad that your doggies are safe and that you all survived your adventure. 🙂

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  6. I think the last lesson was the best, “take each adventure as it comes, and know that you can always take a nap afterwards…” I usually have to wear a pinch collar on walks. I hate it, but Mom says it is what is best for me. *sigh*

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  7. Aye, i know the feelings when my dogs slips her collar. Glad everyone is safe and sound at home. I had better luck with harnesses but she managed to get out of those with more ease than a collar, she lays down and slips her paw right out, all the while watching you with complete eye contact. The heart attacks I’ve had with my dog. My dog even managed to wedge her paw in the cone you get from the vet after a procedure and pull it right off with her tiny paw. Dogs are escape artists when they want to be.

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  8. Our family dog when I was young used to back out of his collar whenever he heard a fire cracker or backfire. As a result when I git my dog, Marcos I bought him a very comfortable padded harness. Have you ever tried one. It kindly discourages pulling too. It might be good for Cricket too in that regard.

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  9. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    I would have had a heart attack…..

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  10. I have a harness totally because of this for Jernee and the one that I have for her, she cannot get out of. I am glad you guys were able to get her back home safely and that your mom got straight in the bed once everyone was settled to find rest.

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  11. Butterflies are free.

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  12. Oh Boy! I know. My two cats have a couple of times almost given me a heart attack by dashing out of the house onto the street. Your stories always make me look forward to the next adventures of Cricket and Butterfly. Regards, Carol

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  13. How terrifying! I’m so glad everyone ended up okay. It’s so awful when your dog gets loose! I had a dog once with a very sleek head (and I swear she could narrow her skull at will) so she could back out of most collars. That’s when I switched to harnesses for almost every situation!

    That same dog also used to break leashes all the time. (I’d drop her leash to let her pee in the yard, like your Butterfly.) Couldn’t figure it out until I realised the leashes always ended up snapping at the exact point where she’d get pee on them. I think urine must be corrosive!

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  14. All the best pet parents have lived through the sheer horror of something like this, it seems … it must be a rite of passage, and no matter how vigilant we are in protecting our “babies”, I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t have a tale to tell. One more way we bond with each other … thankfully over the happy ending too!

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  15. Ah life with dogs. So glad Butterfly and your Mom made it back home safely. There is always an adventure with four legged kids. 🙂

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  16. Perhaps a good lesson for this was that your mom is human. Don’t turn your back on your own good judgment just because she says it’s all OK. After all, she’s just a grown up girl, not superhuman! As a mom, I am often flabbergasted at the way my grown children can take me so seriously.

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  17. An adventure with a happy ending 😊

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  18. Certainly an adventure but a scary one. Glad it worked out well and that grandma is not suffering any ill effects for her part in the adventure. I use a harness and that seems to work ok for us – since Butterfly is a bit of an escape artists, probably best with a good fitting collar.

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  19. Our Briannag did something like this the other day. She’d hurt her back paw, so we took it easy on the walking for a couple of days. In the morning, when my boyfriend gets home from work, I usually send her outside on the chain or leash while our Zeus greets him from the chain. Since Briannag had the hurt paw, I let her out the first morning with no leash, just a collar. All was fine, and she stayed in the yard and hobbled back up the steps to come right inside. The second morning, was foggy, but not yet rainy(she hates rain), and she was still taking it easy on the paw. So, I foolishly let her out with only her collar and not the leash or chain for my boyfriend to grab onto. She promptly walked (ever so tenderly, I’m sure), right across the street to do her business. Then I saw the car. Luckily, my dear boyfriend is smart enough to wait for the car to pass before insisting she return to her own yard. Note to self…leash or chain at all times in the future. It wasn’t quite a heart attack moment, but there was certainly concern for her well-being.

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  20. My heart was thumping when I read this piece! I’ve had this same experience and were right with you! My beagle could rarely be caught and might come home a day or two later, often quite hurt and unhappy! It was usually MY fault and I felt TERRIBLE and guilty. It rarely happened with my little guy, and when it did I simply yelled his name very loudly and amazingly he stopped dead in his tracks and I was able to grab him! But it’s a heart stopping experience…… I get it! ❤

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  21. How scary! I would have reacted the same way – in fact – a couple times, Biscotti has made it outside and I was terrified. So glad everything worked out.

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  22. The dogs can go in the fenced in back yard. There’s over an acre worth of trouble there. Since we’re in the country, but 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix, there’s not as much trouble to encounter. It’s 8 miles to a gas station and 12 miles to a food store. Kyla once bolted out the front door and encountered jumping cholla in a vacant lot. You only do that once in your life-getting it out of you is like removing hundreds of fishhooks.

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  23. I always used to do the “finger test” with the collar- you shouldn’t be able to slip more than 2 fingers under the collar, otherwise it is too loose. Less than 2, too tight. That is the worst feeling to see them running loose like that- I am glad it was a happy ending!

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  24. I too would have been anxious as we have a main road on the way to the Avenue for our walks, plus several ‘blind corners’. Maggie is pretty good off lead as a rule anyway, but just lately she has been ‘selectively deaf’ and sniffing the grass is more important that doing the business on it!

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  25. How scary! I’m so glad you got her back safely. I think all of us who share our lives with dogs know just how you felt.

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  26. playfulkitten73

    Your dogs are beautiful! no wonder you and your mum were so panicked! I guess you take from this just shear gratefulness for a happy ending xx

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  27. How many times I have gone through the empty collar trick, thank goodness everyone is safe and sound. Grandma to the rescue, I hope she took an extra long nap. You poor thing, I hope you took an extra long nap as well. At least you guys knew where Butterfly was headed towards, I had to run guessing where my imps were heading towards. Those little buggers!

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  28. Oh I know how this is! My Alice has done the same and my fear that she will get hit by a car is enormous. I go into a panic if I can’t find either of my dogs after a few minutes. Glad it all ended ok for everyone.

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  29. Oh, hahaha, this story is all too familiar! My heart was racing as I read it. Oh Butterfly!!

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  30. From the window of my flat I used to watch an old man try to take his equally old dog for a walk every day. The dog had the same attitude as Butterfly to walkies, but the owner used to tug him out the gate and get him to a sort of jog-trot. They’d disappear round the corner and I would wait a while, until I saw them coming around the other corner. Always at this stage the old man was carrying the dog. This is an equally effective strategy as pulling your head out of the lead and running home, easier on the owner’s heart in one way, but it was a very fat dog…..

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    • Where I used to live, my next door neighbors had an English Bulldog. He refused to walk more than a few steps at a time, but his dads couldn’t pick him up. They couldn’t even get much leverage pulling him with the leash. The only thing that would get him to move: bring Cricket around to sniff his butt. Wow, could he move when he was motivated!

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  31. It’s an awful feeling when they run away… Glad the story had a happy ending!

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  32. Pingback: Butterfly, beautiful dog: 100 Face Challenge (#15) | Create art everyday

  33. If only Cricket and Butterfly could write their side of the story…:)

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  34. Yes that must have been a scare. But you are very lucky to have them. I have wanted to have dogs all my life but have lived in apartments where it is tough to keep them. So let’s see…

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  35. How frightening! Our springer is really losing her hearing and she slipped her collar at a strange rest area this summer while traveling… YIKES! So glad she loves people & ran to a group of biker women who held onto her for me. The fear is real! So glad it all worked out!

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  36. OMG – such a scary adventure! I love that you screamed for your mother – and loved even more that she could catch Butterfly! I think our dogs deliberately try to give us a heart attack!! Some kind of quid pro quo for something!! Glad all’s well that ended well…hope your are feeling a bit better today.

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  37. You certainly hit a nerve with this post Rachel. I’ve had a busy week and in catching up I found I’d missed it. So many commiserating comments and I’m adding mine. I am absolutely paranoid about any of my indoor only cats getting out. Occasionally one will go into hiding for some obscure reason and then I am frantically tearing the house apart on the edge of hysterics even though I know the doors to the outside have been closed and locked all day. Your paralysis is totally understandable to me. Glad for the happy ending for all, especially your Mom.

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  38. So glad you all made it home safe! I love that Butterfly went straight home. I always worry that one of our pets will get out and decide it’s time to explore. Much better if I knew exactly where they would head.

    And also, you should definitely take it as an adventure. If nothing else, Mom is never going to stop giving advice (after all, she is a mom), so you can’t just stop listening to her. You can ignore it, though I suspect that would just result in advice about not ignoring one’s mother.

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  39. Where do you draw the line? In her middle years Honey now decides where she wants to walk, and, given sufficient responsibility, will take you there. The trouble being, Honey is lazy and doesn’t see the necessity for walks, and she has so many phobias about what in the wide wide world constitutes ‘scariness’ that the result is a short but tortuous route involving the minimum of exercise. Pulling is the only remedy, lead-slipping the predominant risk. Twice her exploits in effecting the great escape have courted tragedy, but I refuse to give in. Ay me!

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    • Butterfly doesn’t seem to understand that I’m trying to help her when I drag her out for a walk. The glee with which she tries to turn around and run home, even with the leash attached, can be very convincing, and guilt producing.

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  40. Pearl sometimes bolts home when she hears a noise she doesn’t like – luckily she doesn’t have to cross any roads, or I’d never be able to let her off the lead!
    Have you tried a martingale collar for Butterfly? It’s not uncomfortable for the dog to wear, but it does stop them pulling their head through.

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  41. Oh I can sympathise! We once learnt the hard way that ‘Halti’ headcollars can be slipped out of if they’re not tight enough… Now the whippet-cross wears his whippet-collar that he can’t get his skinny little head out of, & the big girl wears her Halti tight enough so she can’t escape! I have frozen too, it’s awful! Glad all turned out okay – for now, apart from a frustrated Butterfly 😉

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    • These puppy dogs have such different physiques, it makes no sense that one type of halter would work for all of them. Miss Butterfly has a huge chest and shoulder girdle, Miss Cricket is almost Whippet like under her fur.

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      • It’s definitely trial & error! We hated having the Halti on Tillie but I now have to admit it works for her – she’s big, powerful & strong-willed plus likes to beat up other dogs, so she doesn’t leave home without it 😉

  42. Nice to hear from a dog person! From Layla and I

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