Thursday 17thJanuary 2019
I’ve just ran ‘roon the watter’. I didn’t mean to, I wasn’t planning to, but I just couldn’t make myself turn back. I probably shouldn’t have as I’ve been nursing ill health since New Year and have spent a lot of time with giddy legs, resulting in much resting in between stair climbs. And I’ve spent even more recuperation time indulging in a very silly ‘chick lit’ book (most uncharacteristic), whilst recovering from this monster of a lingering lurgy.
I managed to pull myself out of bed; long enough to get my girls off to school but my giddy aching legs sent me bed wards, for a little R&R and some sneaky ‘chick lit’ indulgence. After all, I have just managed a whistle stop visit to Liverpool to tie up my affairs; which involved a lot of rushing from room to room in my empty shell-of-memories of a house, picking up random selections of stray belongings and polishing light switches.
I am very anxious about it standing empty. I’ve managed to shift our life into a storage unit, in a mad rush before Christmas to honour the buyer’s wishes to move in before the holidays, yet still it stands empty. I’ve signed the papers in readiness for final exchange, but who knows how long it could take. I worry about sudden leaks or vandalism or earth shifts.
I arrived back to our Northern sanctuary, 7 hours later. The M6 was closed due to an accident, (I hope no-one was hurt) around the same time that I was thinking how lucky I am on my Liverpool to Scotland journeys; they’re swift, traffic free, almost enjoyable.
A time to think and reflect and acclimatize.
Oh well. Anyway. So it goes.
I got back just in time to fetch my youngest from her Youth Club, (Oh how I ached) and to be greeted by my little family in my Northern home. And my dog, my poor faithful dog that I poisoned, inadvertently of course.
I’d taken him for a long walk on the weekend, just me and my faithful. I’d ridden my bike as my legs were still shaky and I couldn’t get my girls out the house due to supposed lingering ill health.
It was beautiful. I ditched the bike and wandered up into the Carstramon Woods, through an area that I hadn’t explored. The trees are ancient and knarled and magical.
There are no humans to be seen. It is exquisite. My faithful was trotting by my side, in his element, nose to the ground and suddenly, nose to the air, he was off. I called him back but I knew it was no use and I didn’t have the energy. I was a little peeved; this was the third time in as many days that he had bolted. I knew it was a deer or the scent of a badger and that he wouldn’t be back for at least twenty minutes. I shout after him. I’m not waiting. I’m fed up. This time he can find his own way home.
I walk on, awed by the quiet beauty and imposing presence of these ancient trees. I am trespassing. I am privileged. I am respectful.
I feel a pang of responsibility and suddenly feel the need to turn back, only to be met by my happy, panting dog, looking very pleased with himself; he is covered from head to tale in an oozing, stinking smear.
I am fuming. Again! I wash and scrub him, begrudgingly let him into the house, still trailing pungent ‘eau de badger’. Hours later, my girls plead ‘Oh Mother, could you just do something about the dog, he’s making the whole house stink.’ I accede, grabbing the first bottle of essential oil I can find, which happens to be a 250ml bottle, bearing in mind that they usually come in 10ml bottles. I slosh some into a cup, add a little water and slather it over the dog. There. That’s better.
The next day he is whining, sitting, writhing in pain. I have no pity for him. He’s eaten something he shouldn’t have on his foray into the woods, again, and really, he should have learnt by now. At the Post Office, the farmer’s wife speaks to him in loving, sympathetic tones. ‘You poor love, your mommy should take you to the vet.’
‘Oh don’t be fooled by his charms’, I say. ‘He’s rolled in something, and eaten something, and now he’s suffering for his actions. It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last. I don’t take him to the vet anymore, his dirty habits cost me a fortune.’
I discuss dogs and vets and farm animals with the farmer’s wife and we go our different ways. I admit, I am concerned, he isn’t right but we’ll have to ride the storm. Throughout the day he’s shivering and looking very sorry for himself. When my daughter returns from school we discuss the situation. I’m starting to wonder about the essential oil. Usually I use a few drops of Lavender, not a handful of Ylang Ylang. I Google it. Oh no, it’s listed as one of many essential oils toxic to dogs. In true Google style, there is no further information to state dosages and levels of toxicity, whether it is toxic when ingested or applied topically. We gently put him in the bath and wash him with fairy liquid, as advised. I douse him in milk, then olive oil, as you do, to neutralise essential oils.
The next morning I book him an appointment. I’m going to Liverpool and can’t risk leaving him. It was a long and anxious night and, understandably, I have an irrational fear of sudden death. By the time we get to the vet, he’s perked up.
‘I’m so sorry, I’m probably wasting your time.’ I say, after explaining the scenario.
But no, the shaving of his hair reveals poor faithful bare dog, covered in raw, oozing, bleeding skin lesions. I poisoned my dog! Me, a qualified aromatherapist, severely hurt my dog with an oil toxic to animals. I am so bad! She treats his ear and his skin and I leave, remorseful but relieved.
He’s on the mend, back to his cheerful self. We just ran ‘roon the watter’, 10kms alongside the the banks of the Fleet River and I kept him on his lead the whole way. He has forgiven me, and I feel great. The sun is shining, it’s a magnificent day and I can’t explain it, it’s a feeling I haven’t experienced in more than 3 years; I feel at peace, at wonder. I feel no fear. I feel the sun on my skin, my bald dog at my side. I can see and hear the chaffinches and the sparrows, busying away in the winter branches. Granted my legs are a little shaky but I think that’s purely because I overdid the jogging.
I have no thoughts or worries for the future and I’m not feeling overwhelmed with the repeating loop of guilt and the complexities of grief that have been playing through my head and heart incessantly since Kevin died.
I feel grateful for all the good people in my life. I feel an overspill of warmth and appreciation for family and friends and hopefully, very soon, I will have some kindness and energy and love to return some kindness and goodness back to them.