A few days ago, I was walking Bodhi at the park. We’ve been working on his social skills when it comes to passing other dogs on leash, and he’s been doing well. On this particular day, we passed a woman with a cute cocker spaniel. Bodhi did his usual look at the dog and then look at me for a treat. Great! But once we’d passed the dog, possibly because the dog was on a flexi-leash and the woman had let the dog come up almost to us, it was too much for Bodhi. He lunged. Unfortunately, this meant that he lunged backward and at an angle, and my feet went out from under me. I landed hard on my lower back/hip and elbow. I managed to get to a sitting position and had gotten Bodhi to sit as well while I collected myself. I knew I was hurt but wasn’t sure how bad the damage was yet. The woman then tried to come over and help me, her dog pulling out way ahead of her, and I had to yell at her thanks but no thanks, and please take your dog away!
A visit to the chiropractor yielded a diagnosis of a whiplash-like injury to my lower back and shoulder/neck area. I already had lower back problems. Ice is my friend. I share all of this with you as a preface to telling you that my husband ended up taking both dogs out to the arroyo today. Normally we each take one dog to a separate place—I get to work on training and whichever dog is with my husband gets some real exercise. Both dogs together are a lot to handle, especially in areas where squirrels and rabbits abound. But he took pity on me and offered to take them both this morning so I could rest. I gratefully agreed.
A short time later, my husband returned home with both dogs. He was in a panic. He’d lost his wallet somewhere out in the arroyo. After a flurry of phone calls to various credit card companies and the DMV, we both headed out to search the area. Now, the arroyo is a vast wasteland of rocks and weeds that stretches for miles and is bounded on one side by the freeway. We retraced his steps, searching through the high weeds as best we could, him moving quickly and me picking my way carefully along the trails, trying to be careful of my back. Twenty minutes later, he yelled, “Got it!”
Relieved, we headed back to the Jeep. That’s when he told me. “You know, this has been a hell of a morning. I didn’t tell you before, but when I lost my wallet, I went and put the dogs back in the Jeep so I could go and look for it. I left the windows down just a little, and…” Can you guess what happened next? I had a very bad feeling. Sure enough, he continued, “…I came back and I didn’t see them. My heart was in my throat. They were gone!” He went on to explain that he’d searched frantically around the area and didn’t see anything. He then spotted a woman off in the distance. The weeds are so high he couldn’t see a dog, but he knew her by sight as someone who frequented the area in the early mornings with her dog. He ran out to her, and there in the clearing were Bodhi and Sierra, happily dragging their leashes as they splashed in a water-filled culvert, frolicking along with the woman’s small dog. Sierra and Bodhi came running to C.C., wagging their tails, happy as clams when he called them.
Okay, how many of you dog-moms or dog-dads are having your own personal heart attack listening to this story and thinking of it happening to your dogs? We are super careful about having our dogs on leashes or long lines at all times. We never let them run free unless it’s in an enclosed area, especially with Sierra’s over-the-top prey drive. It was lucky for us that a jackrabbit didn’t lead her toward the freeway, and that the dog they encountered was small and friendly. It’s good that they came back when called (they’ve certainly had enough practice with recalls), but that scenario is not going to happen again. All in all, it was a rough morning around the Wilde household, but thankfully, one that ended well.