Testing Times - Part Three

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(prompt: 'wall' 9/8/2019)

"Jeez... come quickly! I've just hit your dog! I think I might've killed her!" He shouted over his shoulder, "she MIGHT still be alive... but I think it's pretty bad."

We'd been working semi-calmly at our second milking until this stranger raced in, with his terrifying news. My world stopped turning as fear buzzed painfully in my ears, drowning out even the pulsing rhythm of the noisy milking machine. The briefest moment of numbing shock, then a flurry of furious action as Kanute quickly whipped the milking cups off. Did our hearts or feet race faster out to the roadside where our precious dog lay frighteningly still on the grass where she'd been tossed like an empty paper bag?

"Oh my. Do you remember her shallow breathing? Such short little puffs." Tears well in my eyes as I relive the fear. We were so sure we were about to lose her. In the same way they say your Life rushes before your eyes when you're drowning, when I saw she was still breathing and we carried her into the milk room of the dairy, my mind filled with memories of the first time I saw her. Ugly as... in her umbilical sac. As the midwife assisting my darling too-young dog giving birth to eight near-lifeless puppies, I cleared Gypsy's mouth and tickled her nose with a dry stalk of grass to make her sneeze and take her first breath of life. There was never a doubt which puppy would be kept when the painful time came for the rest to be weaned. Gypsy had stolen my heart from the beginning. We pledged ourselves to each other until death us should part.

We gently lifted her onto a pile of hessian bags in the corner. And saw how the pads of her paws were nearly torn away. There were many cuts and grazes and large bald patches already weeping where fur had been ripped off. Her limbs could barely move. But her tail thumped as she whimpered constantly, telling me of her fear and pain. Alarmingly, blood trickled from the side of her mouth.

"We thought it meant internal injuries," I say. We were distraught, imagining the worst... but it was no more sinister than her teeth having lacerated the inside of one cheek. Thankfully, this nightmare ended with no broken bones, no internal injuries.

Dazed and 'shocky', the constant pulsating rhythm of the milk whooshing and squirting into the milk vat comforted her, as did our constant vigil from dairy to milk room, checking her progress and comforting her - between 'runs' of cows.

Poor Gypsy. She'd understood the need for a wide detour around those gargantuan beasts, but this took her onto the dirt road alongside our dairy. She had no understanding of the dangers of roads and traffic. Her only experience was the extra long driveway in to her birthplace, the farmhouse in faraway Western Australia. The traffic on this dairy farm road was sparse but fast, swerving for nothing smaller than a stock truck or another milk-tanker.

Our sore and sorry girl had difficulty walking for some days, but soon made a complete recovery. Many years later, arthritis would remind us all of her old 'war wounds'. After this drama, Gypsy climbed and conquered each seemingly insurmountable wall for 17 years (or 100 'human' variety), surviving comfortably through two strokes and a couple more minor accidents.

They were most certainly 'testing times' - but as promised,

'what didn't kill us, definitely made us stronger'.

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