Ever since I dislocated my elbow while walking my dog, outings with my golden retriever have changed. I am more aware of the dangers around every corner. Giant barking dogs can leap out of nowhere, causing a dog on a leash to react in self defense, and even tiny chiens can wreak havoc. For walks to go smoothly, you have to know your dog, be alert, and have a back-up plan--my own is to quickly change sidewalks or change direction, but this reflex did not work for us recently.
Saturday's drame was similar to the one that landed me in ER, only this time there was a better ending (if not a happy one). Things had gotten off to a good start, last weekend, when I swallowed past fears and took control of the leash. If we let a bad experience get the best of us, our world becomes smaller and smaller--and so does that of our loved ones!
Smokey and I headed out into the sunny horizon, one of us mumbling a mantra of positives--the other naturally oblivious to life's What ifs?
Keeping my dog reined in close to my side, we smiled (did you know goldens smile?) at the customers seated in the cafés along the seafront. A waiter seemed to recognize us from the neighborhood, which elevated our spirits even higher.
As the pavement ended, we proceeded onto the dirt-paved area that opens out before the sea. That's when Smokey stalled....
I recognized this behavior. It signaled he was about to bolt. Looking up, I saw the object of his interest: a glossy long-haired retriever that looked very similar to Smokey, only a bit smaller. As I quickly turned to redirect Smokey, the two men walking the dog smiled brightly. I recognized that sourire, it said, Aw, c'est mignon! Our dogs are interested in each other. Let's introduce them....
I smiled back in a thanks but this is not a good idea way -- but it was too late. Smokey began dragging me forward over the slippery ground. I was quickly losing my balance and made the decision to drop the leash (something I would not--and could not!--do the last time, and ended up in that ambulance)....
My golden retriever charged toward the smaller dog and the two were soon caught up in a tangle of barking. Everything happened so fast and I heard myself shouting, Ne vous inquiètez pas. Il ne va pas attaquer! Don't worry, he won't attack!
That is when one of the men yanked my dog away from his dog and tossed Smokey toward me. With that, he shouted, Il ne va pas attaquer??!! IL NE VA PAS ATTAQUER???
I grabbed Smokey and my adrenaline held him in place. The two men walked off spouting anger our way.
My mind was reeling. They don't know my dog! They don't know he is a survivor! Attacked by two dogs as a puppy he was not expected to live. LIVE HE DID! Smokey went on to live 9 lives and after another cancer diagnosis, this past summer, I was told he was lucky to be alive, but not to count on a much longer life....
I realize none of this matters to the men whose dog has just been threatened by my dog. I just wished to explain to them that while Smokey may bark up a storm -- he'll soon scramble to hide behind the very dust he's kicked up!
This time the two of us sat there in the dust. Dazed, I finally got up off the ground, swallowed the lump in my throat and walked home with my tears and my dog, who was back on his leash. Smokey and I had made so much progress since we moved from the country to the city, where he--where both of us--would have to adjust to les citoyens. As upset as I was over this unexpected pris de bec, or run-in, I could still put myself in the other dog owner's shoes, and I knew I would have reacted the same way, too. What saddened me was the misunderstanding that remained.
Today Smokey and I could both use a walk. Instead we are holed up inside, our worlds having rétréci, or grown just a little bit smaller. We will figure out a way forward, meantime there's a lump in our way (or in my throat). I leave you with a recent picture/video of Smokey R. Dokey. I hope you can see it below (tap the the middle of the picture, until you see an arrow, to make Smokey's tail wag!).
The regular edition of French Word-A-Day will be back next week. See you then.
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi