Bruno lay listless in his cage. I screamed inside. "Bruno, what did you do?" Shreds of newspaper and blanket were scattered in the cage of the oversized German shepherd and the dog, who had undergone surgery several hours earlier, showed labored breathing - nostrils distended and stomach heaving.
I dropped my keys, punched in the cancel alarm code at the Monroe Animal Hospital, and grabbed the malfunctioning catheter that was still attached to the dog.
"I've got to get you back on the IV drip or you'll never pull through the night," I told Bruno as I worked. Checking one of Dr. Burg's medical texts, I reconfigured the drip based on Bruno's 70-pound weight. "Dr. Burg had this set so fast the cord blew right out of the insert needle," I explained to the sick animal. He rolled his eyes at me in pain. "You didn't help much either, I'd say, from the looks of your cage. We'll just fix you back up here."
The next morning when I arrived at work for the early Saturday appointments, Dr. Burg said, "Bruno looks pretty good this morning, Tara. Last night after we removed the tumor from his spleen, I wasn't sure he was going to make it."
"Mommy, Mommy! I made it. I'm home," my six-year-old voice screamed as I ran in from the bus. Without a pause I continued, "We drew pictures of what we are going to be someday ... and, guess what? ... I'm going to be a veterinarian. I want to take care of animals."
I watched the experienced veterinarian stroke Bruno gently.
"Okay, boy," he said. "The drip is working nicely. I think you're going to pull through."
"She'll pull through," the doctor had told my daddy, "but she's probably going to have noticeable scars on both legs."
A ten-year-old Junior Scout, I had been selling Girl Scout cookies in the neighborhood.
... one more house, I thought to myself ... I can sell one more box of cookies ... I think someone's home here; the garage door is open .... It was a short driveway, only about 25 feet. I wasn't far from the front door when the dogs charged.
"Oh, my gosh," I screamed. Two German shepherds were barreling out at me through the open garage door. "Help!" ... isn't anyone home? ... the dogs wouldn't be outside if nobody's home.
I turned to run, but I was frozen with fear. I saw the shepherds coming. It was too late. One dog jumped on my back, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground, writhing. The other dog was at my head. Reflexively, I swung my arms up for protection and punched the animal in the jaw. She went around to my legs. I felt her teeth sink into my flesh; I tried to kick, but I couldn't move my legs. My arm ... the male dog was at my shoulder. I could still move the elbow; I wasn't totally helpless. I waved my arms wildly, and one shepherd backed off. The other gripped my left thigh. ... Protect your face, I thought when I saw the first dog coming back.
"It's lucky she screamed," the dog warden told my parents. "I figure another two minutes she would have been killed."
"Tara," said Dr. Burg, turning from the cage. "Could you change the dextrose drip for Bruno when you come in to clean the hospital tonight?"
"Sure, Dr. Burg, no problem," I grinned. looking at the jaundiced shepherd. Bruno perked up his ears at the sound of his name. "Now that band is over I can come in early on Saturday night if I need to."
"Band, Ten Hut!"
The acting sergeants of the Trumbull High School Golden Eagle Marching Band barked the command on Saturday night in West Haven as we stood at attention. "Band, Ready? Scream!"
And all 78 musicians and the 26 color guard members abandoned composure for 20 seconds to celebrate jubilantly.
After nights of intensive drills, weeks of instrumental rehearsals, and months of trying to balance my job and the marching band commitments, I had just helped win the Eastern Marching Band Associates (EMBA) first-place title for Class IV division (bands of 70 to 90 instrumentalists).
"Pride, attitude, concentration," I shouted to my fellow clarinetists. Mr. Horton's favorite band phrase and four years of indoctrination had certainly paid off for me. Seeded fourth, the Golden Eagles had just captured first on the East Coast.
While we stood at attention, forced to contain our excitement, a couple of hundred Trumbull parents in the grandstands at the West Haven field hugged, cried and screamed simultaneously.
Pride, attitude and concentration ... That's what it's all about, I thought, unlocking the hospital door.
"Okay, Bruno. Let's go for a walk," I called out.
Bruno stood up and woofed. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.