The piercing scream of my daughter, Katherine, tore me away from the potato I was pealing at the kitchen sink. By the sound, I could tell she was running up the driveway, and something was terribly wrong. We reached the back door about the same time, and I threw the screen open. She ran inside and collapsed onto one of the kitchen chairs, sobbing hysterically. Between the sobs and trembling voice, I had trouble understanding what she was trying to tell me.
“I killed him, Mom … I killed him!”
She cried out again, “Mom … I’m so sorry! Oh my God … it was an accident. I killed him, Mom, I killed him!”
Then the horror of her words sunk in, I felt as if someone had hit me in the stomach. I lost my breath for a second, like the sucking of a giant vacuum; the air whooshed from my lungs. I grabbed her by the shoulders and stared into her face. “Who, Katherine? Who did you kill? You have to calm down and tell me what happened.”
“Oh Mom, I killed him … I killed him!”
I shook her. “Katherine, listen to me.”
Tears streamed down her cheeks, and she wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I shook her again. “You have to tell me what you’re talking about. Who did you kill?”
“Dallas, Mom. I killed Dallas!”
I clapped my hands over my mouth. “Oh, my God!” My voice broke, as I fought to maintain control. “Are you sure? Katherine, you have to calm down and tell me what happened.” I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, trying to gain some degree of composure. “Tell me what happened.”
Heavy moans came again, as I wrapped my arms around her shoulders, pulling her close to me. “Calm down and tell me about it.”
Her body trembled as she tried to control the shaking. “I … I hit him with a softball. I didn’t mean to, Mom. I didn’t mean to, but I hit him in the head, and he’s … he’s dead, Mom. I killed him.”
“Where is he, Katherine?” I fought to keep my voice calm, but I could feel my lower lip quiver. I wanted to cry along with her but knew I couldn’t. She buried her face in my shoulder and didn’t answer. “Where is he, Katherine? I have to know.”
“He’s … he’s out by the road, near the driveway. He’s not moving, Mom… I killed him!”
“Ok, I’ll go out--”
The back door slammed open with such force I thought it might rip from the hinges. Startled, I jumped and looked up to see Kristy, my middle daughter, charging into the kitchen. Her face glowed beet red, and her eyes flashed like burning coals. She planted both feet solidly on the floor and pointed an accusing finger at her sister. With the conviction of a Hellfire and damnation preacher, she screamed at Katherine. “You killed him--murderer, murderer!”
Katherine, already a bundle of quivering nerves, moaned as Kristy lunged at her.
I threw up a hand and planted it firmly in the middle of her chest. “Kristy, stop, right now!”
Tears welled in her eyes and trickled down her cheeks. “But Mom … she killed Dallas, and she just left him lying there.”
Left him lying there. Suddenly, my mind snapped back to helping Dallas and not consoling my daughters. “Both of you stop right now and listen to me. We’ve got to hurry and get to him. This is no time for you two to be fighting! Do you understand?”
Both girls nodded, but Kristy still cast an angry look at her sister.
I took her arm and made her look into my eyes. “I’m sure whatever happened was an accident. Now, instead of blaming your sister, let’s see if there is anything we can do for Dallas. Quick, run get my medical kit.”
My husband and I were both trained in emergency medical care and I knew how important keeping a cool head in such situations was. I looked toward the back door and heard his voice in my head, repeating an old saying we both memorized. When emotions are high… reason is low.
I grabbed Katherine’s hand and stood her up. “Take me to him.”
As we ran toward the end of the driveway, I saw my youngest daughter, Kasady, and sent her into the house. “Call Daddy and have him come home right away. Tell him Dallas has been hurt.”
We ran quickly, covering the fifty yards or so, to where the small body lay. My heart sank as I knelt down beside Dallas. Katherine and several of her neighborhood friends huddled around, sobbing.
I placed my hand near his nose to see if I could feel a breath. “Maybe, but I’m not sure.” I placed my hand on his chest to feel for his heartbeat but felt none. “Oh, dear God!”
I carried his limp body to the house, and within moments, I heard the machinegun, spraying-sound of rocks pelting the underside of my husband’s Ford Taurus. I glanced out the kitchen window at a cloud of dust as Brian's car came soaring down the gravel road leading to our house. The car slid to a stop, as he jumped to the ground, not bothering to close the door. He quickly covered the distance to the back door in just a few giant strides and flew inside, joining me beside Dallas’ body.
“The kids were playing ball, and Katherine accidentally hit him in the head. I felt for a heartbeat and checked his breathing. I didn’t find anything.”
I saw the glisten in his eyes as he raised his arms and waved the children away. “Everyone get out of the way!”
Brian bent over the little body, swept the mouth clear for any foreign objects, and placed his mouth over Dallas’ nose and mouth as he began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He worked for what seemed like an hour, but I’m sure it must have been far less, before giving up. He stopped and shook his head, as he leaned back. Overcome by a rush of emotional sadness, he cried out, “Oh God help him, please help him!”
I didn’t have to see the terror in his eyes to know how he felt. He wiped his eyes with a shirtsleeve and scooped up the small body, carrying it to the living room. The kids followed him like a New Orleans funeral procession, and again, I had to hand out tissues.
I sniffed and picked up the phone. I had attempted to call the doctor while Brian provided the emergency treatment, but the office was already closed. I had left a message, and he was returning the call. I handed the phone to my husband. “It’s the doc.”
He put the phone on speaker, and we all listened as Brian explained what had happened and what efforts he had made to revive Dallas.
“Get some ice water and pour it over his head and moisten his tongue with a few drops of the cold water.”
Brian looked at me, and I ran to the kitchen, returning a few minutes later with a basin of water and ice cubes and face cloth. He slowly poured cold water on Dallas’ head, rubbing him ever so gently. “Come on Dallas... come on little fella,” he said as droplets of water fell on his tongue.
I glanced at the time and realized what seemed like an eternity had only been twenty minutes. Tick … tick … tick. The sound of the grandfather clock seemed to steal away our hope that our small friend would survive, but then it happened.
At first, I saw a slight quiver around his eye. Moments later, Dallas sneezed and opened his eyes. His eyes rolled around, and he shook his head a couple of times before sneezing again. He stood and stretched as if waking from a nap and licked the hands that came from everywhere as we reached to touch him. He looked around as if to say, “What’s going on?” With that, he jumped from the sofa and ran out the door like nothing had happened. The kids ran after him, screaming and laughing as they went.
Brian collapsed back onto the sofa and let out a deep sigh. “Thank you Jesus! Thank you God!”
With our lives moving back toward normalcy, he called the Doc back to let him know about the success. The doctor explained that most likely, Dallas had a slight concussion. The brain had swelled, causing him to black out. The cool water helped decrease the swelling and the water on his tongue awakened his senses. He assured Brian that Dallas should be just fine, but he asked us to bring him into the office in a couple of days for a checkup.
Brian and I stood for a couple of moments, hugging each other. I told him how proud I was of the way he handled the crisis. We followed the children into the yard and joined Dallas and the girls. We hugged, laughed, and cried together, and we rolled in the grass with Dallas.
Dallas, the Pekapoo and valued member of the family, continues to live and bring joy to our lives, and so does the story of Brian’s heroic effort to save him. Brian also occasionally has to endure some poking of fun by friends and relatives for having given mouth to mouth to a Pekapoo. Even today, my dad laughs as he tells the story. He boasts about his ability to speak dog language, and with a somber look, he stares at Dallas. “So, tell me Dallas, how did it feel getting hit in the head with a softball and having a near death experience?” Dallas sits in front of him and answers, “Rough! Rough!”