My dog Sasha has been growing quite deaf over the past few months. A few times recently, I’ve had a little trouble getting her attention when we’re walking, or when I want her to do something in the house. She has also been a little snappy with Jack, which I attribute to her sense of confusion over auditory clues, but all things considered, she’s a very fit 15 year old terrier/shepherd mix.
Tuesday morning, we headed out for our usual morning walk, earlier than usual in an attempt to beat the heat, which exhausts both dogs. Maybe that’s why we ran into the runner with his Airedale, a fit military looking guy, with a fit and nicely clipped dog. They were running at an easy pace up the hill and I moved my dogs off to the side to wait for them to pass, as is our custom, since Sasha can’t hear me anymore at all. Just easier and less confrontational to move off the main road and let the others pass.
We do this at least two or three times every single day. I have treats. They sit down. We have a treat, the dogs and owners move on…no big deal.
But for some reason, this encounter went somewhat differently. Sasha snagged a treat, and then saw the dog and wanted to get to him, and then–
A perfect storm. A dogwalker’s worst scenario. Sasha started barking, riling herself up, then Jack joined in, as he does (it never occurs to him unless Sasha starts it) and the man was passing by with his (very well behaved) Airedale. I noticed that Jack’s leash was a little bit too long and started to rein it in, and somehow, Sasha slipped her harness.
I lunged for her, hanging on to Jack, and shouted a warning to the man, but the rest is all a big loud blur of shouts and crashes. Sasha went after the Airedale, who held his own and the runner man had a walking stick he used to beat her away, and I was lunging for her and then somehow, I was on the ground and holding on to Jack who thought he should be defending me and Sasha, and—
It was terrible. Somehow, I got my hands into Jack’s fur and hauled him off and Sasha finally got tired of the whole thing and headed down the sidewalk toward two older women, and Jack sat down next to me like nothing ever happened. The women huddled on the side of the path and I got up (somehow, I was on the ground, still not sure how that happened) and called to them, “Will you catch her? She won’t hurt you?” And then I was looking at the Airedale, so beautiful and well behaved, who gave me a look like, “What riff-raff!” and I apologized profusely to the man, who was understandably very upset.
The two women brought Sasha to me and found my water bottle. I gave the man my name and told him I’d pay for any vet bills he incurred (of course) and we all looked at the dogs, who all seemed to be out of breath but nobody damaged in any big way that was immediately evident. No blood anywhere on the sidewalk, no ears or lips torn. No gashes bleeding dramatically. (Thank God!)
The man jogged on, and the two women, very concerned with me now, fetched my water bottle and asked me over and over again if I was okay. I was shaky and freaked out, but fine, and I thanked them, madly. They kept saying, “we saw it all. It wasn’t your fault, they were just doing what dogs do. Are you sure you’re okay?”
With Sasha firmly harnessed, we headed home, taking a shortcut because I was wrecked, and it did turn out Sasha had a big bleeding puncture on her hip. It didn’t seem to hurt her at all, but it needed doctoring. As we headed down the street toward home, I noticed I was spitting out dirt, and my lip felt funny, and it turned out my lip and chin were skinned and bleeding and covered with dirt, where I landed on my face at some point, though I have no memory of it at all. (Could have been worse. Lots of prickly pears in that field.)
I cleaned Sasha’s wound, got everyone settled and washed my face. Bruises here and there–a skinned knee and the banged up face and, in the morning, a lot of sore muscles that must have come from lunging and twisting and being yanked.
But all day, I waited for the call from the Airedale’s owner. I was so worried about him, and crushed that my dogs had been so bad and hurt another dog. It broke my heart.
The phone call never came. I decided that must mean the dog was okay. And I went out and found Sasha a different harness ( a sporn) so I can control her more certainly, but I’m also not going to walk them together anymore. One dog at at time. Which we tried this morning.
Jack and I headed out at seven, very early for us. He was an absolute angel, completely relaxed, even when dogs passed right beside us on the sidewalk. He even moved off the path and sat down without being told. He wanted to prove to me what an angelic and honorable dog he is, I suppose, and it was convincing.
As we rounded a part of one park, I suddenly recognized the dark haired runner coming toward us. We both stopped. Jack sat down instantly, earnestly demonstrating how very well mannered he is, as if he was embarrassed, as if he’d had too many tequila shots that day and now…well. Now he’s fine.
I asked, “How is your dog? Is he okay?” On rest, he said, limping a little. Somebody got him on the leg, underneath. Had to have a stitch.
Again, I apologized profusely and asked him to send me the bill.
And then he said, “Oh, no. I could see how emotional it was for you, too. I’m not that guy,” he said. “What if we all just stop and don’t make things more traumatic or terrible than they have to be?”
Thank you, I said to him. And thank you I say again to him now. Runner guy with the Airedale, who took the high road. I will never forget it, and I hope I have the grace and honor to extend forgiveness at that level when it is my turn. I am also grateful to the two women who stopped, the good Samaritins, and helped me when I was so shaken.
Have you ever had an encounter of this nature, where strangers offered so much for nothing at all?
photo Wolf Dog by storm gal