It was a cold, wet day in Bruchmühlbach. I was at work, Lynn at home. The rain started coming down like a blanket at one point. It poured the worst I had ever seen. After work I hurried directly home. Lynn greeted me with a “whew!” He had had a hard day.
It began with the blanket rain. It got rain all over our landlady’s mother’s entry, which was below ours. Lynn went to tell her not to walk out, that he would clean it up. She had the chow, Champ, with her since Menachem and Brigitte were out of town. Lynn began to mop it up, pushing the wet out the front door. Suddenly Champ attacked, trying to get out. Lynn put the broom up. Champ bit him. That seems to have straightened Champ out—after all, this was Tippy’s daddy he had just bitten. Lynn got it all cleaned up while Champ slinked back into Frau Keller’s home, head down and hid himself.
“So I’ve had my adventure for today,” Lynn said, while Tippy curled up on his lap.
“Where did Champ bite you?” I asked.
He showed me. It had broken the skin. “We need to get you to the Landstuhl emergency room.”
His look asked why. I reminded that Menachem had told us that Champ so dislike going to the vet that they hadn’t taken him for years. We were reminded we were in tollwut (rabies) country. Lynn turned pale. “Let’s go.”
The emergency room at Landstuhl was packed. We stayed a long time—apparently a dog bite didn’t count for much. After several hours we saw a doctor.
“The problem is our rabies experts aren’t here. They won’t be back until Monday.”
“When would he need to start having the shots?”
It was already Thursday. This made no sense to me. Couldn’t they call one of the experts in? “Oh no,” he said. “They’re all out of town.”
I begged, I pleaded, I promised my first-born child (only kidding but I might have). He refused to call. That night we sat up and talked about it. It seemed there was no way to avoid the rabies shots, which in those days were given in the stomach and made people sick.
The next day I was moping around the office. My boss noticed and asked what was wrong. I told him about the bite and our worthless visit to Landstuhl.
“Let me see if I can get a committee together,” he said.
A committee? What good could a committee do. But I thanked him.
Frau Keller told Lynn later that Brigitte had called her to make sure everything was okay. Frau Keller had asked how long it had been since Champ had a rabies shot. “Around four years,” Brigitte answered.That did it for me I was convinced Lynn would have to undergo the shots. A shot a day for two weeks, maybe three, maybe four. I was sick with worry.
Later my boss told me the committee was set for 3:30 and Lynn needed to be there. He got there at 3:00, nervous I could tell, though no one else could. At 3:30 we moved into the conference room, a large empty room with four chairs set up and two for us. A doctor was there, a dog specialist, only the vet was missing. The doctor was going on about how Lynn would have to take the shots when the vet showed up.
“Good news,” the vet said. “Champ was given a shot that lasts for five years. They tell you to come back every year so you get in the habit of it. I checked with his vet, and he says you’re clean, Lynn.”
Later I was glad that Menachem and Brigitte had a visit from a social worker, who told them to get Champ his rabies shot. And so they did.
But this explains why I liked the Air Force so much: It cared.