And also a mildly painful one. For me mostly.
You see, I fell. I fell hard. I fell in slow-motion. I felt my foot slide across a slick patch of mud, heard my knee hit the gravel walking path, and could only stare as the ground came into sudden and immediate view. Next thing I knew I was face-planted in mud, less than an inch from a puddle of dirty rainwater, with both of my hands stretched outward clutching the leash as tightly as possible.
Oh, that’s right.
I was holding a leash. A leash that was connected to Rosee.
What was the girl doing while her person took a trip downhill? She was walking a few steps ahead, sniffing out all of the intriguing smells at the park we hadn’t visited in a whole week. She was just minding her own business, blissfully unaware of the pain that was about to befall one of her favorite treat dispensers.
It’s true. I was not pulled, yanked, or dragged down. I simply slipped. Good ol’ human ingenuity at work!
The only thought in my ahead as the ground got closer and closer was “This is really happening. I can’t believe this is really happening. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much.” Of course, after the shock wore off that last thought proved to be pretty useless. Everything hurt! Young, sturdy, strong, resilient, I don’t care what you call yourself if you fall like I fell then you will hurt (and use it shamelessly to get other family members to buy you things like dinner and milkshakes, you know things that promote faster healing).
As I look back on the fall now, a week later, I often wonder why I didn’t put my hands out to brace myself. Why didn’t I scream as I went down? (I honestly feel like screaming would have somehow made the situation more climactic, right?) I have no other answer than at that moment in time there was nothing that could stop my inevitable fall. Afterwards, even Theresa mentioned that the fall seemed to take place in slow-motion and she wondered why she wasn’t faster (like she could have stopped my descent), but of course the whole episode probably only lasted about ten seconds between slip and full-body impact. There was no stopping this muddy-bloody-tumble train.
It was just my luck too that the day I took my tumble was the same day there were a lot of my mother’s friends at the park (along with my mother) keeping up with their weekly walking sessions. This was partly the reason why Theresa and I started taking Simon and Rosee to the park on that particular day, because there were more people, dogs, and ambient activity around for them to learn to get used to and ultimately ignore. With so much going on in the park it was the perfect place to keep up with training and make sure our pups weren’t getting complacent on their otherwise regular walking routes.
So, of course “everyone” paid witness to my epic downfall and immediately set to rush over. However, Rosee, who had been faithfully sniffing my face and standing by my fallen body until the shock had passed through my system and I regained enough control of my extremities to sit up, suddenly got protective. She started barking at the approaching helpers, getting very upset and stressed out. To help calm her down, and since I was still sitting on the ground in a puddle, Theresa took Rosee and started to pull her away a little. She needed to put some space between us so that Rosee could relax without being surrounded by strangers. This meant that I had to take Simon and do my best to hold him back. Fortunately, our mother, who was at the park walking with friends, rushed over to take him so that I could regain my wits further and stand.
Now, I get that everyone’s first instinct was to run to me and try to help. My face was bleeding, I was covered in mud, and I basically looked like roadkill. But someone with a dog you don’t know well is not someone you just run up to. As compassionate as your instincts are, coming at a dog and its person is how people get hurt. Even Simon, poor, confused Simon, was getting upset at all of the people trying to surround me and I was left trying to hold onto him until my mother could get to us. (It’s unfortunate, but when Rosee gets really agitated—and I mean really agitated—she can snap without looking and we couldn’t have Simon around her at that moment until she calmed down, so I had to hold him until I could pass him off to my mother.) However, I wasn’t one hundred percent in control of anything at the time and would not have been able to keep Simon calm by myself.
The fact is those nice people coming to help me would have been jumped on, and even perhaps pushed down, because Simon was in an excited and stressed out state and I was in no condition to worry about others. So, instead of running up it would have been safer and more helpful if people could have approached calmly and slowly, asking if I needed help, and then acting accordingly. I know it’s a lot to ask, but even at my lowest it’s important that my dog and other people are not put in unnecessary danger. It’s the same reason that as I fell I did everything I could to not let go of the leash. A loose Rosee in a park is a crazy Rosee in a park, not something anyone is too keen on witnessing I’m sure.
However, someone walking up to me with their dog just to stare at my misfortune and then in turn glare at my protective dogs is not someone (or something) I consider helpful–I’m Looking at You bystander! I kindly ask that in the future unless you find yourself with some sort of help to offer, please ignore me and walk around. I promise you won’t hurt my feelings. But staring at me like some sort of alien creature with an unruly dog will surely get you a poisonous glare and harsh words in return. (And honestly, I don’t need any more help reminding myself to laugh at my pain, I’m doing just fine thank you.)
Finally, after I was able to rouse myself to my feet, accepting tissues from friends to stem the flow of my bloody face, I trekked back to our car to clean myself up a little more and take stock of where exactly the blood was coming from. Oddly enough, I scrapped both my knees, got a small scratch on my right elbow, and ended up with one good gash on my upper lip, but that’s it. Nothing twisted, nothing broken. I didn’t even have scrapes on my hands (or my nose for that matter; I’m not really sure how I missed that, but hit my lip). The bleeding stopped quickly and the worst of “other fluids” I had to contend with was the mud plastered all over my front. And I mean all over. From cheek to shins, there was mud.
It’s been a week now and my scrapes have become itchy scabs and I walk without any lingering soreness. And if you’ve stuck through reading this story you’re probably wondering what the point I’m trying to make is? The moral of my story?
You will fall. At some point in your life your face will become intimately acquainted with some kind of floor. You may have a dog with you. You may not. Hopefully, you will end up like me with just scratches, instead of anything broken. You may scream. You may have better bracing instincts than me. But you will fall. Learn from it. Laugh at yourself. Make others buy you things. Move on.
This fall is not the first one. Simon has caused some memorable tumbles into the waves during trips to the beach and Rosee has dragged a stunned Theresa a few inches through wet grass in pursuit of those elusive garbage trucks. The two of us have been soaked with sea water, grass stained, and now covered in mud. This fall is not the first one, nor will it be the last and it is not because my dogs are completely unruly or out of control. My dogs are dogs. They get excited, they have memory lapses, and accidents happen. (Their humans also have bouts of terrible coordination and simply fall all by themselves.) Keep the Neosporin close at hand and move on. There’s nowhere to go but up, right?