I’m leaving… I’m not leaving… okay, this time I’m REALLY leaving (maybe)


A magnet stuck to the bottom of my refrigerator door says: “It’s all fun and games until somebody ends up in a cone.” When my friend, Brenda, and I spotted this Truth next to a photo of a terrier haloed by the giant white “cone of shame,” we both laughed. In my world, this scene is all too familiar. I, literally, own 13 e-collars (FYI… it’s never a good idea to spay or neuter 13 crazy sled dogs all on the same day… but that’s another story). Sadly, my 25-lb. German Jagd Terrier, Jigs, has ended up in the “cone of shame” more times than all of my sled dogs combined. “You need this…” Brenda said, pulling the magnet off the counter display at the bookstore and handing it to the cashier. “Hang it really low on the frig… so The Terri-orist can see it.”

I’m always amazed how one small (adorable) dog can throw such a big wrench in my plans. Jigs is known for making poor choices — he’s a terrier, he can’t help it — and I have to watch him.

This last Monday as I was preparing to leave Indy for Montana the next morning — doing laundry and gathering camping gear and loading my car while visiting with Brenda —  I left Jigs and Chloe and Lolo in my 3/4 acre backyard. Jigs turned 12 years old in March so sometimes I forget that my little gray-muzzled man can turn into a steel-eyed predator at any moment. Just as I was walking Brenda to her car, we saw a snarling tornado of fur and teeth moving across the grass. I recognized bits and pieces of Jigs and Chloe and Lolo in the twisted mess. Thankfully, Brenda and I were right there. As always I went straight for the terrier, snatching the wiry beast from the pile (please, SERIOUSLY, do not try this at home), and carrying him — still squirming and growling — back to the garage by his scruff.

“What the heck was that about?” I asked Brenda, as she looked over Chloe and Lolo for wounds. I did the same with Jigs, finding several punctures on his back leg. Jigs usually starts things, but then ends up the only dog wearing “the cone of shame.” I wish he’d learn, I always think after a scuffle. Dog fights evoke terror. For an hour, my heart pounded in my head, my hands trembled. I worry for those I love.

A plump, drool-drenched squirrel found in the yard answered our questions. Without a speaking witness, it’s difficult to know who caught the rodent; all three of the dogs are skilled hunters (lucky me). It’s a dog’s nature to want something so pungent, warm, bloody. My dogs are animals — I know this. I must remind myself to treat them that way. But sometimes they’re so cute I forget…

I decided to postpone my trip for a day to make sure Jigs did not need vet care. One hole about the width of a pencil could have taken a stitch… or not. I gave Jigs a painkiller, some antibiotics, and we plopped down on the couch. He slept in a ball on my lap as I read, checked emails. That’s when I experienced the second shock of the day. A message in my Inbox read: GOOD NEWS FROM THE IOWA STATE MFA PROGRAM! I was asked to contact you right away because we have good news for you. We are able to make you an admission and TA offer to join the MFA Creative Writing and the Environment program at Iowa State after all…

For the second time that day, my heart surged in my chest, my hands shook — but this time for positive reasons. I postponed my departure date for several more days.  So much to consider…

2 thoughts on “I’m leaving… I’m not leaving… okay, this time I’m REALLY leaving (maybe)

  1. Hi Karen, Poor Gigs. Congrats to you. Is the program in Ames? When does it start? Can you take courses online? Do you have to live there? Such life changes for you. Keep in touch. The new Blog will sure help!! Love, Lou

    1. Hi Lou! Poor, poor Jigs… that’s what he likes us all to think! He and Chloe are spooning on the couch as we speak. They forgot it ever happened… the humans are always the ones stuck with the memory.

      Yes, thank you! I was thrilled to receive an acceptance and offer. Trying to get into MFA programs is tough stuff. I am stopping in Ames on my way to MT. I’ve never been there. All of your questions are good ones — I just don’t have any answers yet. I have to make the decision this week. So I’ll keep you posted. I look forward to seeing you under the BIG SKY soon. Love you! Karen

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