I’ve rarely been a real risk taker when it comes to physical activity. I’ve never jumped out of an airplane, rappelled down a mountainside, or skied in fresh powder after being dropped from a helicopter. When I swim, I like my pool water warm, and when I ride, I like my horses elderly and as they say, “bombproof.” I like my skin and bones, well-padded as they are, intact. Do I dare to eat a peach? Yes, but you won’t find me scuttling across the “the floor of silent seas.” I keep to the surface. And the older I get, the more my apprehensions and hesitations apply to those around me as well, including but not limited to my dogs.
Today was my first day of retirement, and incidentally, the first day in four that it hasn’t rained here in Southern California. Ellen DeGeneres joked at the Oscars last night that we’ve had a tough few days–“it’s been raining, but we’re okay.” Although the Scottish deerhound’s ancestral home is in the highlands where it never stops raining, or snowing, the SoCal brand of deerhound does not like to get its feet wet, and so the dogs have had very little exercise these last few days. Today the sun broke through and all hell broke loose. In my younger days, when my deerhounds would run full tilt and chase each other through the tall grasses of Sherborn Massachusetts, the ground would rattle and I would experience a thrill quite unlike any other—the thrill of the chase, the hunt. I could almost see that red stag bounding up a hill, ever elusive, the dogs nipping at his heels. Now, I see dollar signs. Anterior cruciate tear? Five thousand dollars. Fractured radius? Five thousand dollars. Collision with a tree? We won’t go there.
I had been outside with them for maybe ten minutes when the wild rumpus began. Queen, the smallest of the three, and the fastest, is always the instigator. She took off through hedges and around corners with her sister, Quicksilver in hot pursuit. Magic, the old man at 9 and a half, has slowed down quite a bit. He was never the brightest, yet over the years he has learned to use his bulk to “head them off at the pass.” As I was hauling slightly mildewed dog beds out onto the patio, he intercepted one of Queen’s speedy zoom arounds and the next thing I knew, she was yelping in pain. Rushing to her side, I saw the damage, a four inch tear in her skin, just at the groin fold. Suddenly, my “to do” list for the day was narrowed to only one task. I took her to the vet.
As always, I should have known better than to let close to three hundred pounds of aggregate dog loose simultaneously after being in the house for three consecutive days. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the accident wouldn’t have happened if I’d been, say, at work, the way I normally am on Monday mornings, with Queen and Quicksilver ensconced in their separate yard, and Magic and the little dog Yoda in the house. After a brief anesthetic and fifteen or sixteen sutures, Queen is home and will be fine. My “to do” list will wait until tomorrow to be done—I guess that’s the nice thing about being retired. No bones were shattered, no ligaments torn– we’re all still standing. And my veterinarian’s children will be able to attend college.
As I’ve said before, when you run with the big dogs, it’s always something!