Out of My Comfort Zone
Twice this week, I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone. One happened at home. One happened out on a ride. One was a matter of life. One was a matter of death. Both involved animals.
I am a huge animal lover. I love most animals, but I’m not a big fan of gerbils, mice and rats and I am afraid of birds. Don’t ask why; I have no idea. One of my grandmothers was also afraid of birds. The other one was the entire opposite; she had a huge Audubon Society Book of Birds and everything! I do, however, think birds are beautiful creatures and love observing them in the wild and at a distance. Rats and gerbils, and mice? Not so much. My mom had a pet rat named Peppy growing up and she loved that rat. Eww.
Last week we had been having a lot of rain so our pool was very full. I was sitting at the kitchen table and happened to glance out and saw something moving in the water. “Crap!” I thought, “A bird is in the pool.” I watched it for a second, thinking that a little birdie was taking a birdie bath in my nice big pool. Nope. It didn’t move like a bird. Double crap. “It’s a mouse.” Okay. I had two choices. I could let the little mousie swim until it drowned itself or try to fish it out. The problem with trying to fish it out – the net of our skimmer was half gone.
“Alrighty”, I thought, “The cousins are arriving today and all the kids will want to swim.” I couldn’t bear the thought of dead mouse germs being in the pool with these children that I hold so dear. I was trying not to think about the fact that the darn thing had probably pooped and peed in my pool the moment it fell in.
I steeled myself and marched outside to face the enemy. As I rounded the pool to get a closer look at him, I noticed one of his wild animal brethren in the pool as well. A little frog was happily swimming along in the shallow end of the pool by the steps. He was not nearly as intimidating as the not mouse, but RAT swimming along in the deep end!
The frog was much easier to catch and remove from the pool area. It only took me a couple of tries with the “ratty” skimmer that I had. The rat, was much more wily. It took me many more attempts to get the rat onto the portion of the net that was still attached to the skimmer and then keep him there long enough for me to fling him out of the pool. The dumb, or should I say smart nasty rodent would jump off of the net every time I brought it up underneath him back into the pool where he would sink a few feet before rising and recommencing his paddling. Each time he sank I would hope that he wouldn’t bob to the surface. Alas, each time he would, beady little eyes shining and whiskers twitching.
Finally, I managed to corner the critter and, after several more attempts, flung him once and for all out of the pool. He lay on the rocks for a few moments and then trundled off under the fence. Good riddance, I thought. Perhaps he’s become a nice feast for one of the gorgeous red-tailed hawks that frequently watch me running by from the telephone wires near our house.
A couple of days ago, I went out cycling to do hill repeats. I was initially planning to go with a couple friends, but they both had to back out, so I went solo. It was a quiet time of the morning so I figured I wouldn’t see too many cars and was hoping to not see too many dogs. As I was cruising along, I happened to glance into the tall grass by the side of the road. I could see something lying in the grass. As I got closer, I could see the fresh blood stain on the asphalt. The shape was a dog and, unfortunately it was dead. My heart sank, especially when I saw that he had on a bright orange collar.
Confession time: as odd as this sounds, I am afraid of dead animals. I think it stems from watching too many horror movies as a kid. Logically, I know that they can’t “spring back to life”, but that doesn’t make any difference to me. When are our fears really logical?
I kept riding, but my thoughts kept returning to that poor pup. He’d had a collar so he must have been someone’s pet. Maybe he really wasn’t dead, only stunned and would have wandered back towards home by the time I got back. Maybe his owners would have already found him. But then again, what if they hadn’t? What if he was far from home? Would his owners ever find him? What if the family had kids? How would they ever know what happened to their boy? Or, what if they lived in one of the houses close by and came upon him after several days in the hot August heat? I knew I should go back and at least see if his collar had an ID tag. But I really don’t like dead animals...
Again, I steeled myself. As I turned around to head back from my first hill repeat, I looked for the dog. I didn’t see him, but then, I wasn’t paying close attention as to where it was the first time. On the way back out though, I looked more closely. Sadly, there was his little body just past the four-way stop. I guess I missed it being on the other side of the road. I remembered that I had some surgical gloves in my repair kit. I stopped just beyond him, donned a glove, and walked slowly towards the grass where he lay.
He was a cute little guy, about thirty-to-forty pounds with markings like a German shepherd. He had floppy ears and looked well cared for. I turned the collar on his neck and my heart sank even further as I saw the brass ID tag. It still had a drop of fresh blood on it. If only I’d been a few minutes sooner. Perhaps I could have done something for him.
There was one thing that I still could do. I called his owner and left a message. I hated to leave that message, but I had to let his owner know. I would have wanted someone to do the same if it had been Sneakers or any of my furry babies.
I continued on my ride, slower than before and with a heavy heart, thinking about animal lovers versus the non-animal lovers. I saved that stupid rat’s life; I would have felt horrible if I’d let it die knowing that I could have saved it. Some motorist hit a dog that was obviously someone’s pet and left it to die. Joe tried to rationalize it for me – maybe the person didn’t know they’d hit the dog, maybe they didn’t have time to react, etc. It was the middle of a sunny morning and the sun was in the other direction. I’m sorry, but I just can’t wrap my head around that.
No one likes to go out of his or her own comfort zone, but to truly grow as a person, I think we need to from time to time. Life is about choices and about change. We’ve got to roll with the punches, regardless of what life throws at us. I know by doing so, it helps me be a better mom, a better person, and a better athlete. I guess I just wish more people felt the same way.