Gratitude; my cup overfloweth.
A few years ago, we adopted an adorable Rat Terrier whom we named Gypsy. She was a rescue, so we didn’t know her age, background, or how she ended up wandering the streets of a large southern city with no collar or tags. But we felt sure she’d had a difficult life, as she cringed whenever we approached her with a hand out. She seemed particularly afraid of strange men.
Gradually, Gypsy adapted to her new home with us, and she followed me around like a little shadow… a silent one. Nothing seemed to prompt her to bark or growl, but we assumed she was just a quiet dog as she seemed happy with us otherwise.
Not long after we brought her home, I had hip-replacement surgery. Gypsy seemed to resent the coming and going of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and visiting nurses — especially the males. She was still silent, but she snapped at the ones she liked least. This led us to believe it must have been a male who had mistreated her previously.
One day about a year after my surgery, I was in the bathroom giving Gypsy a bath. I finished and lifted her out of the tub, and then turned back to gather up the towels. Suddenly, something snapped in my hip, and I crashed to the floor. Luckily, I fell between the tub and sink. Had I hit one of them, I feel certain that would have been the end of me.
Unfortunately, I had no way to summon help. The door was closed, and I didn’t have my phone with me. My husband wouldn’t be home from work for hours, so I did the only thing I could think of: I started screaming for help as loudly as I could.
Gypsy was clearly confused by my screams, shivering and shaking, but after a few minutes, she did the only thing she knew to do — she lay down with her (wet) back pressed against mine. It comforted us both. She licked me now and then, as if trying to reassure me all would be well.
After an hour had passed, and my throat was hoarse and rough from shouting, I heard a voice outside that sounded like an angel. “Do you need help?” It was my next-door neighbor, who had just come home and heard my shouts.
“Yes! I’ve fallen, and I think I dislocated my hip!” I called. “I’m in the bathroom upstairs.”
Soon, my neighbor was in the house. Luckily, she was an EMT, so she knew just who to call and what to do. I was so thankful for help but worried about Gypsy. She didn’t like strangers, and the ambulance crew was mainly male. “What about my dog?” I asked my neighbor. She assured me she’d take care of her after the ambulance took me away.
I expected Gypsy to freak out with all the strange men in the house, but she seemed to realize they were there to help me. I said goodbye to her, and she tried to follow me, but my neighbor shut her in a bedroom as the EMTs carried me on the stretcher down the steep staircase and into the waiting ambulance.
In the ER, they ran all the necessary tests and knocked me out so they could force my hip back into the socket. With pain pills, I was able to go home later that day. No sooner did I get into the house than Gypsy came running. She was beside herself with glee to see me at home, jumping and bouncing, and I was delighted to see her as well.
Since then, she has appointed herself my guardian and companion. I can’t even use the bathroom without her following me. Oh, and her silence? That’s gone; she barks now with great gusto whenever she hears someone enter, and then looks at me for praise. And given what she went through with me, how could I withhold it? She’s my bright-eyed, black-and-white heroine. We rescued her, but she in turn rescued me. Who could ask for more?
— Elizabeth Delisi —