Poetry by Jamie Holms

–Late last night, my neighbor’s dogs packed up on my old blind lab, Chance. We were both standing right there, neither one of us is sure just what happened. This time I couldn’t break it up and I thought they were going to kill her. I threw myself on top of her. Yes, I know I shouldn’t have done that. Yes, I would do it again. It was a long time, it seemed before they stopped, even with me covering her body. I got bit a few times, my back, my scalp, my right arm, my left knee, left arm and left breast. There is just one little puncture on me, just a lot of bruising and scrapes. Chance got bit up pretty good, not mauled, but she has bite wounds from her neck to her tail and she is awful sore – and I’m going to be in trouble with her groomer, because I cut her hair with scissors. After I cleaned her up, I showered and I collapsed, the adrenaline wore off. I woke up this morning, early, sore and I wrote about it and I’m sharing that with you.

dog fight

my throat a ragged mess of raw
and i taste blood there
and i smell blood
and there are teeth tearing at my hair
my knees are pressed into the mud
my neck covers her neck
my body lays over hers
my head is tucked so tightly over hers
i can taste her panting gasps for air
my nostrils are overwhelmed
with the scent of her fear
four dogs to one
and she is old
and she is blind
and she is arthritic
and she is mine
the better part of my soul
lies beneath me
bitten and panting
bleeding and aching
there are teeth on my arms
on my legs
in my hair, again
i can not care
i cover her
i love her
i waited too long
to throw my body over hers
only in the aftermath
only in the light
only with a gentle touch
only then will i discover
i waited nine bites too late
i thought i could stop it
i thought they would hear me
i thought it wouldn’t go this far
how wrong i was
and i lie over her
and i shake with rage
and i wonder when they’ll stop
and i know, tomorrow this is going to hurt
an interlude of peace
i lift my head
a black muzzle darts in
snapping
grabbing
tugging
but all he gets is fur
and i am over her again
blindly lashing out
my head is tucked too far over hers
to see what i am striking out at
my knee gets grabbed
it’s quick and painless
there is little to feel
but adrenaline high
and i want to vomit
but i lay over her
there is the semblance of peace
a break in the foray
my neighbor has the bad dog
not like the others are innocent
they each got in a bite or two
she promises she will not let go
and i lift her
and i carry her
and she is safe inside
and i crate my other dog
my hands are shaking
but they are adept
they have done this task for years
find the wound
clean the wound
heal the wound
and i do
nine punctures from neck to tail
her mouth is bloodied
from where she bit her tongue
my mouth is bloody
from screaming so loud
there is fur inside my mouth
i don’t remember biting anyone
i can not feel anything but love
my heart leaks with concern
within my chest
only later will i find
the bruise and the puncture on my breast
the evidence of my leaking concern
my scalp stings a while later
while i’m seated
tending to her
she is still panting
she is still afraid
she is still bleeding
she is still alive
and
she is still old
she is still blind
she is still arthritic
she is still mine
and i love her
and i would lay down my body
and i would give up my heart
and i can not explain

Jamie Holms
7.31.09

About the Author

Jamie has over 17 years of experience in the veterinary field, most in emergency and critical care. In a prior life she was an animal control officer and a veterinary team manager for a 24 hour practice in Los Altos, California. Jamie is the Administrative Manager for Dr. Andy Roark and Uncharted Veterinary Conferences. Jamie is passionate about mental health and suicide prevention in the veterinary community and is a firm believer that education reduces stigma and increases survival. She is a certified Mental Health First Aid responder, QPR gatekeeper and certified gatekeeper instructor. Jamie is an administrative rockstar, organizational aficionado, tea geek, and workaholic – not necessarily in that order.

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