2019 has been a doggone tough year for me in terms of strange little injuries. But yesterday an incident took place that was a doggone fluke.
Our dog Lucy loves to run and play at a large local dog park Our weekly visits are a mixed bag of joy and possible confrontation. Most weeks she plays well with other dogs and things go fine. But there are always couple dogs that get touchy or Lucy pushes a bit too much and that sets off a snarlfest. So I typically keep close watch on her.
But that wasn’t what caused a problem for me yesterday. Lucy was busy wrestling with a pointer named Apple ten yards away when a big yellow lab broke from the thin woods forty yards away and came running toward me. I’d given that dog a big butt scratch earlier and a happy rub on the ears too boot. So I wasn’t initially concerned there was a problem, but he was coming fast. I stood there wondering when he’d veer to one side or the other to avoid hitting me in the knees. He never veered.
That ninety-pound yellow labrador retriever ran right through my legs without a pause and kept on running. The impact knocked me off my feet. I lay there on my side, stunned by what had just happened. The owner of the dog Lucy was wrestling stood nearby and witnessed the event. He inquired, “Are you okay?”
I muttered, quite honestly, “No, I’m not.” I was scared that I’d been really hurt.
Then he asked, not knowing what else to say, “What was up with that?”
“I have no idea,” I replied, climbing back up to my feet. By that time the lab had run back toward its owner. There was no barking or malicious behavior on the dog’s part. I’ll never know what went through that dog’s mind as it took out my legs at probably fifteen miles an hour. It’s a happy pup that I’ve seen a few times at the park. It was just a doggone fluke. The price of random activity at the dog park.
I likely should have moved before the dog struck me. When dogs in a group are chasing and playing, they often lose their bearings and crash into each other or the people standing around watching the action. Dogs love physical contact just as much as people do. I used to love playing basketball at open gym because it gave me a chance bang into other people and let out aggressions. Did I get injured? Not that often. I was a good player and athletic enough to handle myself.
So I blame myself for getting splatted like a frog on the road. I should have known that the dog might well have seen that speed strike as a form of play. That’s the best explanation I can offer.
The dog’s owner wandered over to check on me after a minute, and I didn’t have much to say. Certainly I didn’t blame him for his dog’s actions. Shit happens at the dog park. I mean that literally and figuratively.
A few minutes after the lab took me out the play between Lucy and Apple turned aggressive. There was snarling and teeth and I stepped in to break it up.
We left after that. I know dog trainers aren’t big fans of open dog parks like the one we visit. It’s hard to predict what will go on because the behavior of dogs is so unpredictable and the level of training and control on the part of the owners is so randomly uneven. A few weeks back there were dogs that bit each other and that’s never good. It the same on the human playing field as well. The lyrics from the Pink Floyd Song “Dogs” reminds us of that:
You got to be crazy, you gotta have a real need
You gotta sleep on your toes and when you’re on the street
You got to be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed
And then moving in silently, down wind and out of sight
You got to strike when the moment is right without thinking
The knee grew a little sore by evening. I lay on the couch watching the movie Free Solo, which was hardly a relaxing endeavor. But it took my mind off concerns that the outside ligament might be damaged or that the meniscus inside my knee might be torn. I’m a year-and-a-half out from surgery to fix a previous tear and happy to be running pain free.
The good news is that I managed to run a hilly five miles this morning with Sue at the Morton Arboretum. The first two miles were a bit sketchy and ginger as the joint loosened up. The knee band that I’d used to hold the torn meniscus a couple years ago came in handy this morning as it provided a little back up stability.
It’s a doggone shame to pick up an injury anytime it happens. But the sight of that dog charging at me taught an important lesson. Never take the random actions of nature for granted. They can knock you to the doggone ground.