A Fall, Dogs and Risk

dogs in leaves

Border Collies are fun dogs to live with.  Even when they are tired they reach inside themselves for a higher gear and run faster and stronger.  Woe to the person who is in the way of a herd of Border Collies though.  Once again one of my dogs was zooming around the yard, enjoying the cool, sunny morning and streaked behind me, slamming into my left ankle.  I heard a crunch and a pop as the push from the dog threw me forward onto the wet dew-covered ground.  And who was the deadly beast intent on knocking me over and jumping on me?  None other than a little twenty-plus pound gold and white puppy named Bodie.  The fall took me by surprise and gulping in air and groaning, I felt instantly sick to my stomach.  All three dogs quietly stayed by me, probably trying to figure out what new game I was playing.  Then Bodie decided since I was already on the ground, he’d jump on me, his coat filled with mud and leaves.  To add insult to injury he thought I was down on the ground to play tug with him.

With no one around to help me, I got up and limped from the back of the property to the house, the dogs all quietly walked by my side, even little Bodie, even independent Catcher.  They seemed to sense that something serious was going on now and were very subdued.

I put ice cubes on my swelling ankle, grabbed mom’s old wheelchair and realized my options for going anywhere for the day and probably the week just ended.  This too shall pass as it is now my fourth fall of the year, but who’s counting.

The dogs and even the cat were hovering over me as I sat at the kitchen table, one leg up on a nearby chair.  Essie uncharacteristically jumped up onto my lap, purring loudly, pushing her muzzle against my hands.  After a few minutes of feline hospice care she jumped down.  Then Razzie, released from her crate where she is recovering from her spay operation, came over to me nervously.  As I put my head between my legs to keep from passing out, she continued to hover over me, putting her front legs on my lap, concerned, my sweet girl.

How miraculous is it that animals know or sense when a human is injured or not feeling well, sometimes even before the person themselves know?  As I felt better all the animals went off to nap.  Life returned to normal for them.  I noticed that of all the animals Bodie seemed the only one not empathetic or curious about my painful condition.  Perhaps he is too young and needs time for our relationship to build, for him to understand my emotions.  Yet as the day went on, he was very quiet, sleeping near me.  It was like he knew it was time to behave and leave puppy shenanigans behind.  He knew, somehow, something was different. Did he pick it up from the other animals?

This was a true test of all my dogs training.  Each dog had to take the puppy down the steps outside and lead him to the potty area.  Through the partially opened back door I gave Bodie his potty commands, which he obeyed perfectly, spinning back to me afterwards for a treat.  In the last twenty-four hours all the dogs have done their business outside and quickly returned to me, no horsing around, no catch me games, no sunning themselves on the concrete pad.  How do they know that something is different?  Is it the sound of my voice?  Does my voice still project some of the pain I still feel?  Their six-sense for feeling a human’s physical frailties amazes me.

As to why I’m falling a lot, I’ve determined it has nothing to do with age.  Now that the Florida humidity is gone and the air is brisk, the dogs are no longer staying in the shade.  They are able to run and explore the entire back yard.  Am I mad at Bodie for running into me?  That thought never crossed my mind.  He does need training to learn to respect my space.  But then the other adult dogs often lose track of me while whirling, twirling and playing.  Stuff happens.  Do you get rid of a horse because it steps on your foot or kicks out for no reason?  No, stuff happens around animals.  Stuff happens in life, period.  There is no guarantee when you share your life with a horse, donkey, rooster, dog or cat that you won’t be hurt or seriously injured.  It’s part of the risk you take by entering their world.  It probably won’t be my last fall around my dogs.  It did dawn on me that my Sloggers, while great for walking in the wet, dirty grass, have no ankle support and each time I’ve fallen I’ve had them on.  I’ll have to invest in some other kind of waterproof boots that come up over my ankles, for the next time when my world comes crashing down around my whirling, twirling, running Border Collies.

5 thoughts on “A Fall, Dogs and Risk

  1. I can relate to this kind of experience, and have only one hyper-energetic dog. Your writing really drew me in and was vivid in describing the pain, companionship, vulnerability and reflections on the risks we take when we share our lives with animals. You make it seem easy, but I’m sure it took a loving and creative commitment to write this. I might have succumbed to self pity and self doubt. Hope your ankle is healing well.

  2. Thank you for your kind comments. The only doubts I had at the moment of the fall were whether I’m “young” enough to deal with an energetic puppy. But after thinking about it more I saw the
    logic of realizing that stuff happens. My only worry is that I ripped a tendon or did some permanent damage. But I feel almost fine other than being terminally bored.

  3. At the risk of looking like an old decrepit lady I’m carrying a cane in the back yard now. I’m using it to block them from entering my space without a command. They love to run and I love to watch them enjoying themselves. But I need them to be more aware of ME so I’ll have to do more training in that respect. It’s always something with dogs. But I love life with them, don’t you!

    • Yes! My one young dog (he was a puppy not long ago) is willful and tests his strength on me. I’ve had similar misgivings that I might be too old for all this, but he also keeps me young and more active than otherwise. I do hope you’re healing well.

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