On days when many dogs were running around the dog park, my anxiety would spike a little because there’s always the chance of a fight ensuing and someone getting hurt. But no other dogs were around, so I didn’t mind if Emmie and Oakley went a little crazy. As Oakley’s mom and I talked, I watched the dogs tearing around the park, bits of grass and dirt flying in their wake.
Injury and Panic at the Dog Park
Suddenly, a series of staccato screams splintered the air. We jerked our heads in the direction of the haunting sound. My heart jumped into my throat as I watched Oakley emerge from under a pine tree, spinning in tight circles and howling in pain. To my horror, I saw his entire side peeled back from his shoulder to his hip, revealing the muscle tissue underneath.
Panic! This is when you panic! My anxiety screamed at me.
My anxiety’s motto is Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
“And then you’ll choke,” my anxiety tells me.
Adrenaline pulsed through my system, and my breath quickened. The back of my neck got hot and tingly. I looked at Oakley’s mom, who turned to me with utter shock and fear, her face ashen.
“What do we do?” she repeated over and over, her voice tremoring with desperation.
You don’t have time to panic, I told myself. My fight instinct took over, smothering my anxiety.
“Keep the wound closed and apply pressure,” I said as we rushed to Oakley’s side as he collapsed on the grass. I grew up in a family of nurses, so I have a basic knowledge of what to do in these situations. I pulled out my phone to call the emergency vet and tell them we would be bringing an injured dog in soon. Next, I had to figure out a way to get Oakley there.
By now, the sun had sunk closer to the horizon, and the dimming light added urgency to the situation. I had a 2001 Camry. I knew we couldn’t lay Oakley in the backseat and fit his mom and my dog. Because it was almost dusk, the chances of anyone else arriving were slim. My anxiety started trying to squeeze its way out from the crevice I had forced it into.
“Stay here and keep applying pressure; I’m going to get help,” I said, trying to steel my nerves. I ran down the grassy hill and onto the road leading out of the park. I saw a truck driving towards the entrance and stood in the road to flag them down.
“Could you please help us?” I asked, my voice pressed with urgency. “A dog in the park is badly hurt and needs to be taken to the vet.”
The man and his family quickly agreed and followed me back where Oakley lay.
Together we decided to carefully transfer Oakley onto a blanket and have the man carry him to the truck. Everyone loaded up, and I followed them to the vet’s office. I waited there with Oakley’s mom until the doctor came to take Oakley into surgery.
As I headed home, the adrenaline started to wear off. I no longer heard my heartbeat thumping in my ear. Something had gone wrong, yet, to my surprise, I hadn’t choked.
A week or two later, I saw Oakley’s mom, and she told me that Oakley had only lost two inches of skin from an injury about two feet in length. She told me I had been her rock. Many words have been used to describe me, but rock has never been one of them. Although I hadn’t stopped to ask for it at the moment, I believe God gave me the strength of mind to remain relatively calm and steady when someone was relying on me for help.
Anxiety is a Liar
What I learned was that my anxiety is a liar. Yes, bad things will happen. We can’t know when they will happen, but anxiety tells us we should worry about them as if they are happening at this exact minute. This experience taught me that fear of the future is powerful but not as powerful as God’s control over the present moment.
Danae Grigsby writes from the Pacific Northwest.
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