The few days following Christmas were lovely. Max enjoyed long walks on the crisp, frosty mornings, and afternoon visits with friends and family, not to mention leftover turkey and all the other treats that were part of the festive season. We were planning a party for New Year’s Eve, so the preparations for that were fun too. But then, on December 30, disaster struck. We were walking through the woods below the new George Derby Centre. This was the route we referred to as the Cariboo Walk, as the trails meandered all the way over to Cariboo Road. My girls were off playing with friends, but Edna had her grandsons with her, and Hugh, thank heavens, was with us too. If Hugh hadn’t been there, I don’t think Max would have survived.
We were heading up the trail that came out on Sixteenth Avenue below Cariboo Hill School, when suddenly, Max lurched out of the bush, blood pouring out of his foot. It was obvious he was in shock and seriously injured. Quick-thinking Hugh whipped off his sock and made a tourniquet, then sprinted off towards the road so he could flag down a ride home and bring back our car. Edna leashed Brandy and gave her to Justin and Josh to hold. Then she and I took Max’s rear and front ends respectively, and carried him out of the woods a few yards at a time. We never realized how heavy he was until we had to get him up that trail, and we had to put him down periodically so we could rest and catch our breath. Poor Max didn’t mind being carried for he seemed to realize that he needed help. We finally got him out to the road and lay him down on the verge. Hugh appeared almost immediately. Someone up there was definitely looking after Max that day. Hugh had careened out onto the road, covered in blood, and waved to the passing vehicles for a ride. Instantly, a young man in a flatbed truck pulled over and picked him up. Hugh never got the driver’s name, but whoever he was, that kind man saved Max’s life.
We lay Max on the back seat and I sat with him while Hugh sped to Dr. Zinger’s veterinary hospital. The tourniquet had stopped the bleeding, but once we got Max inside and he tried to walk, the bleeding started again. Dr. Zinger sedated him and we left him there, but as we drove home, we felt dreadfully anxious. The girls greeted me with quips about Nightmare on Elm Street, and when I looked down, I realized why. I hadn’t noticed how bloody I was, but when I took off my jeans, I found they were soaked in blood. We carried on apprehensively throughout the day and called the vet late in the afternoon. Dr. Zinger said we would have to call again later to see if Max could go home as he’d had heavy sedation. Evidently, the cut had opened an artery and Max had been going into shock when he arrived at the surgery. Dr. Zinger also told us that if we’d been any longer getting Max to the hospital, he would have died. As it was, it had been touch and go.
I survived the rest of the day on coffee and Anacin. In the evening we called, and to our relief, the night nurse said that Max could come home. Hugh, Katie and I set off right away. Poor Max was ecstatic to see us. He crawled out of the cage, tail wagging. Then the anesthetic overpowered him and he fell over and peed himself. While trying to keep his bandaged foot dry, I knelt in the puddle with my right knee. As I said to Hugh later, the day had gone full circle. I started out with a blood-soaked left knee and finished up with a pee-soaked right knee.
Max was so happy to be home, but he was terribly drowsy. We all made a big fuss of him, then fell into bed exhausted, but relieved. In spite of our fatigue, we had a very bad night, for Max woke up frequently. The poor boy was restless and uncomfortable, and in the morning, he seemed depressed. Hugh had to carry him up and down the stairs. I think he was in pain, and he was also very cranky. We plodded on with the cleaning and party preparations, aided cheerfully by Marcella and crabbily by my own two ingrates. Periodically, we took breaks to put Max’s plastic sock on and take him out to the bathroom. Miraculously, the party turned out to be a great success, not that Max got to socialize. He was tucked up in our room sleeping off the traumas of the past 48 hours. But when midnight came and we chorused the usual greetings, I couldn’t help thinking how close our family had been to the saddest New Year’s Eve we’d ever known. But thanks to Hugh’s quick thinking in a crisis, it was a Happy New Year after all.