Last December, when I was looking for excuses as to why my life felt like it was turning to shambles as I helplessly watched, I seriously entertained Mercury in retrograde as a legit reason as to why. If you don’t know already, three or four times a year, Mercury appears to move in the opposite direction of Earth, though it’s actually just an illusion. As Mercury is thought to govern communication, technology and travel, astrologers believe that during this time, those areas are negatively affected down here in our daily lives on Earth. There’s even a handy website you can check to see if Mercury is in retrograde when you’re having a particular shitty day you can’t explain.
I know I’m beginning to sound like some hippie dippy with all my Enneagrams and astrology theories, but may I remind you, an entire religion believes a man built a boat and filled it with two of every animal species who all agreed to put the circle of life on hold and become vegans to survive 40 days and nights of rain. Put in perspective, personality models and planetary movements affecting daily life doesn’t seem all that strange.
This past Monday, we (Freddie, my friend Steve and his dog Rapha) were playing Ball in the park, just like we had done several times before. “Ball” consists of the humans kicking around multiple soccer balls continuously while Freddie chases them tirelessly, barking them to a stop, and Rapha selects his favorite ball and prances around like a stallion with a prize in his mouth, occasionally dropping his ball for one in motion.
And then. It happened.
Freddie ran after a ball, barked it to a stop, and just kept running. And running. And running. He didn’t slow down, he didn’t pause when we called. He never even turned around. He just kept running, a dog on a mission.
We immediately understood this was different from his typical, “I’m just gonna investigate these smells over here real quick, BRB,” behavior. Trying not to panic, but also totally panicking as he headed straight for the busy road in the distance; four legs are faster than two. Steve took off. I think I blacked out.
I hesitated writing about this at all out of extreme guilt and fear of judgement. My one job is to keep this dog alive and happy and I failed. But as my friend reminded me, parents make mistakes all the time. They leave their kids in grocery stores, or look away for one minute and poof, the child is on the ground, or hanging upside down or scooped up by a stranger. Parents make mistakes. Everyone does.
I heard the cars. I heard Steve. I heard Freddie. I still hear them all. Everything stopped. They were too far away, I didn’t see anything. Until I saw Freddie streak by, a blur of black, white and red. Wait. My dog should not be red.
I froze, paralyzed. Freddie became Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea became Freddie. I heard a lady shout. He’s injured. I heard Steve. Get the car, Tosha, he’s hurt. I blinked. I nodded. My ears buzzed. Then I watched from above as I methodically jogged back to the car, picking up our belongings. There’s Steve’s coat, he’ll need that. I grabbed a ball. I picked up the water bottle and the bowl. I placed them all in the car.
As I watched from above, I wondered if that girl could drive. This wasn’t happening to me, I was watching it happen to someone else. Like a movie. She got in the car. It felt like forever before she reached Steve. Where do they go? How do they find him? Where do they look? Freddie was red and he was missing.
I don’t remember driving around, I don’t remember looking out the window for my dog. All I could see is Freddie hiding under a porch, in a shed, in the forest, curled up in a ball in pain. I heard a phone ring. Wait, that’s my phone. I snapped back into myself, the main character in this shitty movie called Real Life.
They found him.
After being hit, he had run at least two miles. A woman in a car and a man walking into a bar spotted him, bloodstained and wild-eyed, and the two strangers worked together to track him down, under a house, catching him before he could crawl into a tiny hole. Had they not found him when did, this story might have a much different ending.
I wanted to hug the strangers forever, but Freddie needed help. We drove to University of Wisconsin Veterinary Care, where they took amazing care of both my dog and me. The vets sat on the floor with me as they explained how for being hit in the head by a car, Freddie was incredibly lucky. One overnight, a CT scan, some X-rays and six removed teeth later, I took home a drugged up puppy who, other than a slightly swelled up muzzle, was exactly the same.
Steve likes to say everybody gets the dog they deserve. Well Mr. Fred, this ain’t the first time the world tried to take you down, and it probably won’t be the last. But when the world knocks us down, we get right back up again, don’t we.
I mean. My dog took a car to the face and lived to bark about it. I’ve got one badass pupper.
While Freddie recovered in the hospital, we were sort of reliving the moment as people tend to do with these kind of things, trying to make it make sense when Steve asked, Wait, isn’t Mercury in retrograde? I had suggested that to him last December when all his electronics were failing him nonstop with no plausible explanation. I mean communication screw ups, travel, automobiles…I checked the site.
Mercury is in retrograde from March 22-April 15. It was March 26.
Freddie Mercury. Mercury in retrograde. Freddie Mercury in retrograde.