Happy New Year

As we approached the automatic doors, I drew a tense breath. I feared what they would reveal when they opened. I’ve spent many nights in Emergency Rooms, and it’s never a pleasant experience.
I held my arm around Anne’s shoulders, and we walked into an empty room. A television hung from one wall, and Dick Clark counted down the remaining hours of 2002 for several empty chairs and a threadbare couch — the only occupants of the very small waiting room.
Anne pressed a towel to her mouth, hoping to slow the flow of blood. The shock was wearing off, and she was beginning to feel the pain.
I walked to the check-in window and thought, this is a fucked up way to spend New Year’s Eve.
Since the kids were with their dad, this New Year’s had presented Anne and me with several options. We could have attended numerous parties, eaten dinner in several restaurants, stayed home alone, or even walked to Colorado Blvd. and staked out a spot to watch the Rose Parade.
Two of our friends had recently bought a new house, and they were having a quiet gathering there. Most of our friends would be in attendance, so that’s where we went. Quiet and low-key would be the perfect way to end the year.
The evening had been pretty fun. A trip to the ER was the farthest thing from my mind as I played Munchkin with some of my friends, and Anne sat on the floor, trying to convince our friend’s new dog that he and Anne should be friends.
The dog, however, is the anti-Ferris: he’s really aggressive, and not good with people at all. He was recently rescued, and is still getting socialized around strangers. During the evening, he’d snapped at pretty much everyone there, and kept growling and barking at my friend Darin. Anne has the animal empathy of an 18th-level Druid Ranger, though, and she was determined to bring out the love in this animal.
She was doing a great job, too. She sat on the floor with him for close to two hours, calmly talking to him while his master held his leash, and the dog eventually relaxed. Everyone at the party was amazed, except for me. My wife is the very definition of boundless love, especially for animals. As soon as we were warned about the dog, I knew that Anne would have it eating out of her hand by the end of the evening.
While Anne continued to pet the dog, my friends and I prepared to follow up Munchkin with a rousing game of Naval War. We were laughing and fooling around, and then, like a bad made-for-cable movie, everything went horribly wrong.
I was holding the instructions in my hand, looking for the number of cards to be dealt, as my friend Cal shuffled them. KROQ was counting down the top 106.7 songs of 2002, and our friends Pat and Shane had just arrived. I heard the dog begin to growl at Darin, and thought nothing of it — he’d been growling at Darin all night long.
Then the dog barked, and I heard Anne’s voice cry out, shrill above the din of the party, “Wil!”
I turned, and saw something no husband would ever want to see (unless he was OJ Simpson): my wife was holding her mouth, as blood poured over her hand.
Anne went into shock, more from the emotional trauma than the wound, I thought. Before last night, Anne had taken 44 stitches in her face, and eight of them were not from a dog. When that dog bit her lip, Anne was five years old again, helpless and terrified.
We packed ice into a towel, pressed it against her mouth, and drove her to the hospital. Since it was empty, we got through triage and into a bed very quickly. While Anne was being prepared for closure, I walked out to the waiting room, to tell our friend Joe what her status was. He owns the dog, and he and his wife felt terrible about what had happened. We told him that he should go home to be with his wife at midnight, but he insisted that he stay with us until Anne was cared for.
As I walked to the waiting room, I passed an old man who was on a ventilator. A woman, possibly his daughter, sat at his feet, and leaned over the bed, clutching his legs. Sobs rocked her body. My heart went out to them, as I thought, “it’s just a dog bite. It could be so much worse.”I told Joe that we’d be leaving soon, and walked back to be with my wife. The doctor put six stitches into her lip, and we were out of the ER by 11:45 PM. We walked back into Joe’s house with 2 minutes remaining on the year. Anne drank a champagne toast, and we hugged our friends goodbye.
Joe and his wife walked us to the car, apologizing the entire way. We weren’t upset with them, and still aren’t. It wasn’t their fault. It was just a terrible accident. I thought back to that man on the ventilator, and told them that it could have been much, much worse.
We drove carefully back to our house. Each car on the freeway was a potential drunk driver, especially the one who was weaving across three lanes on the 210. I pointed to the car, a white Toyota, and told Anne that things like that made me wish I’d outfitted my car at Uncle Albert’s. She didn’t get it.
We were in bed by 12:30. Anne watched “Sex And The City” and I read “Watchmen.” We were asleep by 1. Yeah, this was not the way I planned on spending New Year’s Eve.
Anne woke me up in the middle of the night, crying. Her Advil had worn off, and she told me that the pain in her face reminded her of when she was a little kid. I wished that I could take her pain away from her, but I did the best that I could: I held her in my arms, and let her tears fall against my cheek and roll onto my pillow.
We fell back asleep, and slept until two Stealth Fighters flew over our house at 8 a.m. to start the Rose Parade.

253 thoughts on “Happy New Year”

  1. So I wasn’t the only one who had a shitty new year? Well, that makes me feel ever so slightly better. First things first: drunk drivers just suck to hell! Secondly: I hope Anne feels better rel soon. Thirldy: Normally I love dogs but my God they can be little buggers some times. On account of one I now have a broken leg and I can’t talk out of the right side of my mouth.

  2. Hey Wil,
    Need I remind you both that dogs only have puppy breath when they’re puppies!
    Feel better Anne!
    Maybe your buddie should seen that dog over to THAT DICK RICK BERMAN!!!!!!!!!
    sorry ;I

  3. Dear Anne,
    I hope that you’ll be better soon and try not to think the pain!
    Dear Wil,
    today I just switch on the Tv and there was the Akt

  4. I excperienced a similar New years Eve 5 years ago. My daughter was then 6 years old. We went to my friends house for a nice little get together, to make a long story short, My daughter was pushed off a bed and landed on her shoulder, after realizing something wasn`t right we took her to the ER. We found out her collar bone was snapped right in half. She was put in a sling and then her whole arm, with the sling, was wrapped to her body to keep it immobile. We made it home with 10 minutes until the New year, She missed a whole month of school because being a special needs kid her teacher didn`t want her in the classroom with other kids who might do more harm to her arm.
    Here is to no more ER New years Eves for any of us.
    I sincerly hope Anne is feeling better.

  5. I’m a dog lover from waaaay back (I grew up with two wonderful dogs: A boxer & a corgi. We had our boxer “Duchess” for eight years before she died for a heart problem that effects this breed. We got our Corgi “Roxanne” in my late teens and she lived for 15 years before my parents eventually had to put her down due to a host of maladies caused by old age. Boxers tend to intimidate people because of the way they look, but they are actually a very loveable breed that is wonderful with children. Ours was never aggressive toward anyone.
    Our Corgi was a lovable lap dog around the house and a herding maniac on our friend’s horse farm. And while our family loved both these dogs very much, I have no doubt that if either dog had bitten anyone they would have been put down quickly. Not without regret and sorrow, but out of a sense that dangerous animals have no place in anyone’s home. The dog that bit your wife is a dangerous animal.

  6. Anne, speedy wishes of recovery. I have a nice scar on my nose where a dog picked me up when I was a baby. Took me a long time to get over fear of dogs, but I bet you’ll be up and petting in no time!

  7. Hi Wil,
    Hope Anne is recovering well from her wounded lip and spirit.
    Our rescued dog bit me in the cheekbone not too long ago. He has bit my other dog, my husband, and now me in the cheekbone, foot, and ankle. We’ve come to terms that we rescued a biter. Everytime he bites me I get so emotionally hurt that I cry. Luckily, he is only 15lbs (lhasa apso) so his bites are little more than scratches and they don’t require stitches – yet I am determined to take him through eight 6 week classes in dog training to give him the structure/training he requires to be a pet.
    Please don’t be too hard on the dog – although a bite to the face is very traumatic to primates like us.
    I think a good psychic connection to animals is important for a good pet owner..but I’m learning that it helps to have a solid understanding of dog training methods and canine/animal behavioral therapy.
    Growling is a dog’s way of saying – “I am going to bite someone”. A growl should always be interpreted as an intent to bite. Learning and employing solid dog training methods allow an owner to train the dog not to growl, bark excessively or bite. None of these behaviors are acceptable in a household pet.
    I’m still determined to turn around our dog so tell your friends not to give up hope – but insist that they spend several hours a week with a dog trainer like we do.
    Here is to better Canine to Primate understanding in 2003! Happy New Year.

  8. I am so sorry! I hope Anne is doing better. I was attacked by a German Shepard as a child, and they still freak me out.
    Wil you are a super, wonderful guy. My husband is very sweet and caring as well, and when something awful like this happens, it makes all the difference in the world to have someone in your life that can be there for you and show you they care. Bully for you two!

  9. Wil and Anne-
    Happy New Year to you both! I hope Anne gets better soon and wish you both have a great 2003. Thanks Wil for bringing me hope last spring.

  10. Wanna cheer Anne up? TNG episode “Hollow Pursuits” is on TNN tonight. (The one with Lt. Broccoli).If Wesley in that Musketeer get-up doesn’t make her giggle, nothing wil.
    Get well soon, Anne.

  11. Having spent NYE in the ER with a spouse before (my husband was still somewhat immunocompromised post-chemo, and had come down with pneumonia – again), you have my utmost empathy. Here’s hoping the physical scars fade away quickly. I know the emotional ones will hang on longer….
    *hugs offered*

  12. When I was twelve, a german police dog at my uncle’s farm thought I was attacking my aunt when I moved a bit closer for a group shot — and jumped up and back and clamped down on my midsection. Am missing 45 seconds of screaming, my dad hitting the dog with his camera, people trying to the pull the dog off, and once done, getting in the back seat of the car for the ride to the hospital.
    The dog got his a few weeks later when he challenged a moving car and lost.
    I feel for her Wil. She’s gonna remember some of it, but it’s best to forget and just be more wary next time.

  13. Hey wil? When are you going to tell us your adventures as a hobo? I’m interested. Or do I have to wait for your book? Is that what the whole book is about?

  14. Best wishes to Anne on a quick recovery. So sorry for the bite and the painful memories it brought up from the past. (((hugs)))

  15. Wil and Anne
    I too was bitten (twice! two different dogs) when
    I was a small child.
    I was scared of dogs for a long time.
    It went away though.
    Yes Wil it COULD have been worse..
    I have worked in the ER long ago on New Years
    Eve…THAT is not the place to be.

  16. Best wishes for speedy healing, and sorry New Year’s sucked. As for the dog, in my humble opinion, once a dog attacks someone it should be put down. Period. It has proven it can’t be trusted, and with a predator large enough to be a threat, if you can’t trust it, it is no longer worthy of being a pet and needs to go.

  17. Wil and Anne,
    Sorry to hear about the accident. As you said, it could’ve been worse. keep holding Anne, and pray for her speedy recovery. I know this must be tearing you up Wil. By the way, is that Watchmen you are reading the Graphic Novel? I read that one, and it was way cool.
    Funny hearing that from a 41 year old man, but I do say that from time to time.

  18. Oh wow. Next time, Anne, compassionate and loving human being that she is, needs to remember that feral dogs are dangerous. The dog’s owners need to keep the dog away from people and in another room the next time they want a quiet get-together. Whew!
    I’m assuming that you are hinting that Anne was abused by a parent and ended up with stitches? Poor Anne.
    I’m sorry for her pain. I hope the rest of 2003 goes a lot smoother for the both of you.

  19. By the way, did it sound like I was lecturing about the dog before? Didn’t mean to. Just pointing out the obvious, I guess. :-) Now pay attention, Wil, this is your pseudo-mother speaking!! 😉

  20. Healing mojo for Anne!
    I’m sorry your New Year celebration ended up going awry, I hope 2003 brings greater happiness for you and yours and none of the disappointments.

  21. Best wishes and much mojo to Anne for a speedy recovery. She’s lucky to have someone as supportive as you.

  22. Anne: My thoughts are with you during this time of ache. I’m sorry you had to go through that. Not a nice way to ring in the New Year’s. Like Wil said, it could’ve been much worse.
    I just found out today that my landlady passed away New Year’s eve, around 9:00 PM. I had no idea until today when her daughter came to pick up the rent check and left me a note asking me to write it in her name since her mother had passed on. Now that’s a bad way to ring in the New Year. My thoughts are with her too. Very nice ladies, both of them.

  23. Nothing is as traumatic as getting so close to getting a doggie to calm down around everyone and then chaos erupting and someone getting hurt.
    I’m so sorry for Anne and for you, Wil. I’m glad to hear though that it wasn’t more serious and that you both don’t blame the owners of the dog.
    I hope Anne recovers quickly from the bite and stitches and that she’s not in too much pain.

  24. Anne-
    Hope that you are feeling better, and lets just tack this up to well things could’ve gone in a much more worse direction that night. Have a speedy recovery-
    May the Best of your Last year best the worse of This Year- To continued Hapiness and Good Health-

  25. I adopted Casey the wonder dog from a shelter. She and the rest of her litter were found in a dumpster outside a Don Pablo’s.
    Forty bucks isn’t much, but it’s what I can afford.
    Love to Anne.

  26. Wil
    and Anne..
    I had a “run in” with one of my grandfathers dogs
    back when I was a small “tike” and to this day
    I have never “liked” dogs much… the scars can
    run deep… and when I was in the ER (19 years,
    9 months ago) well, I don’t remember much about that.. just one of the male nurses with a beard
    and ear ring, tring to keep me in place for I had to be “restrained” several times,
    a result of a head with helmut, hitting small
    tree… any whoo… not much fun….
    my best wishes to Anne and to a fast recovery
    and to Wil.. may his nerves recover as well.

  27. Oh Wil, I’m sorry! I’m embarassed! I thought you were hinting that Anne being hurt by a parent. I’m so sorry for the misunderstanding! Well, I’m happy that her memories are not as sinister as that!
    OK, all the same, I wish her a speedy recovery and hope the pain goes away very soon. I’m happy she has such a sweet husband too. :-)

  28. Hi Wil and Anne,
    It’s too bad New Years didn’t go as you planned. But hey, it’s only one day. What you do with all your other days is just as important.
    I hope Anne feels better *soon*. All the best for this year and the years to follow. You two sound truly happy to be together. So many of us dream of someday achieving that. You’re both blessed.
    Happy new year, all!

  29. Mojo to Anne! But get back on the horse, though. I had a couple bad dog experiences when I was REALLY young and have been pretty much terrified by them ever since (with few exceptions).

  30. Good Recovery, Anne!
    Don’t lose your faith in animals. It would be sad for you and all the animals for the future.
    (But, if they can bite, pick or whatever: just watch out; don’t be anxious, but keep a safe and “respectful” distance. Most animal will respect this behaviour of the “humans”.)
    Bad start in 2003, but… things can only get better!
    Best wishes,
    (from Good Ol’ Germany)

  31. I’m so glad Anne is ok!!!!! Wishing her a very speedy recovery! Your right. I’m sure it could have been alot worse and my heart goes out to all the people who had to spend New Years Eve in the ER. I’m just thankful that Anne is alright. GOD BLESS!!!!

  32. We are both sorry to hear about what happened to Anne. We hope that she is feeling better. I (Dev) also had to have stitches on my lip once, but in my case I was the one who bit my own lip (long story). Hope that the rest of your New Year goes better from now on.

  33. We are both sorry to hear about what happened to Anne. We hope that she is feeling better. I (Dev) also had to have stitches on my lip once, but in my case I was the one who bit my own lip (long story). Hope that the rest of your New Year goes better from now on.

  34. We are both sorry to hear about what happened to Anne. We hope that she is feeling better. I (Dev) also had to have stitches on my lip once, but in my case I was the one who bit my own lip (long story). Hope that the rest of your New Year goes better from now on.

  35. Hey Wil,
    Sorry to hear about what happened to your wife, she seems like such a great person. I hope she is feeling better soon. And on a different note, if I ever fall in love and get married, I hope that my husand will be as loving and supportive as you are.
    Much Love,

  36. Ugh ugh ugh! Puts my petty problems in perspective. I spent New Year’s Eve suffering
    from food poisoning, so I can understand that feeling of “this is not how I’m supposed to spend this time,” but man….hope Anne recovers quickly.
    This reminds me why I’m more of a cat person.

  37. Many Happy Returns to you and yours, Wil.
    Much healing to Anne, too. I will keep her in my thoughts. By the way, you sound like one lucky guy to have such a gentle and loving spouse!
    Peace in hte New Year,

  38. Wil,I’m really sorry you ended up having such a bad time for New Year’s Eve. Having to go something through like this is one thing I don’t think any of us would ever like to experience. Hope everything else is going well these first few days of 2003.
    Anne, here’s wishing you a speedy recovery. You’re the woman, Anne!

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