Bernie just turned 11 years old. Last year when he turned 10 I thought it was time to honor his life and tell the tale of that fateful day in September of 2009. Apparently that was not the case because I’m now telling it a year later.
I had just quit my job and was starting my new life with Ken. We knew we were moving to China in several months and thought we should start living together as soon as possible. Ken had a job in Aspen at the time and we were there for about two weeks when I left for LA to get home and pack for the move. I left Bernie with him because he was going to fly back a few days later on a company jet and Bernie could fly easily with him. I flew home economy, just wanted to add that. The day after I got home I was getting ready for my garage sale. It was a very difficult time you know, selling my my early 1960’s stand-alone bar to some bearded hipster, practically giving away a late 60’s bright green hanging chandelier and most notably having to part with the blue suede Bottega Veneta wedges I paid a fortune for but simply couldn’t wear for more than 5 minutes. I would be leaving my Silverlake cottage behind with my sister living next door which meant no more girl’s nights watching Project Runway with pop corn in bed, no more late nights dancing to Chaka Khan, no more drunken nights spent at the Conq, blah, blah, blah, there were tears involved.
Midway through the garage sale I got the call from Ken. Bernie was inside the rental car parked outside the office and somehow managed to injure his spinal cord (probably flying around the seats after spotting a squirrel). He would be driving him to a neurology specialist in Denver for an MRI which would then confirm a very bad bruising of the spinal cord but fortunately no break. He was paralyzed in all 4 legs but the doctor was fairly certain he’d regain the use of the back legs at some point and we’d just have to hope for the front legs. Whoa.
After spending a week in the hospital they told me he should now be home with me to recuperate. The doctor said he has a better chance of regaining his legs because he has a very strong will and a huge desire to move. When I picked him up at the hospital they handed him over like he was a pillow I was supposed to make a bed with. Limp and lifeless. He gave me a stare right through to my soul that said he was happy to see me and WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED AND WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!?
The first month was really hard, I was frustrated and cried often. I had to carry him out to pee and poop and lay him on the ground. I never knew when he had to go so it was constant. I bought him a stroller and would take him out for walks and eventually down to the Pain Quotidien so I could sit outside and enjoy a cappuccino. One day a woman sitting next to me asked me, “why don’t you just let him walk?”. I took another sip of coffee, pulled a 9-millimeter out of the side stroller pocket and shot her. Not really, I just calmly explained he’s PARALYZED and then wondered, “what was your reasoning behind wearing bedazzled pink sweatpants and porn shoes??!!”.
He soon began getting strength in his back legs. I knew this when one day we were walking in my neighborhood and a squirrel ran across the stroller and his back legs sprang so hard he flew out of the stroller. I also took him 3 times a week to a rehab center where he did all kinds of therapies including swimming, massage and ultra sound and this it what really got him back on his feet, so to speak. It is also why he was nicknamed the Ten Thousand Dollar Dog (thank you Ken). His front legs eventually came back too, they aren’t 100% but they are better than most other dogs. Not long after he recovered we moved to China where he had a whole new set of experiences. For those stories you just have to go back to this blog’s very beginning.
That’s Bernie’s Tale, one of them anyway, but the one that bonded us in a very special way.