Into the Creek

Friday, August 8, 2008

I really should take my camera to our Thursday night walks in the regional park. As I've mentioned before, my husband plays ball almost every Thursday and the kids and I (and Ninja of course) walk in this absolutely beautiful park, which is right next to the ball fields.

Last Thursday was an early game so there was plenty of time to walk, with plenty of light. There is 1 hour and 15 minutes allotted to each softball game, so that's a nice walk. This week we were joined by one of the kids of another player, who unfortunately didn't bother to inform his father that he was going walking with us. Normally I would have made sure, but I was happily walking my dog and chatting with my kids before I noticed this boy was attached to us. Did I invite him? No. Did I particularly want the responsibility of this kid? Not really. But I decided to be a good sport and let him tag along.

One reason I worry about this kid is that he is not dog people. I don't think it's his fault- he's only around 10 years old and his parents are not dog people. What "not dog people" fail to understand is that their actions almost always directly correspond to a dogs reaction, but not understanding dogs, they often label our beautiful fur friends vicious and aggressive.

The week before, this kid had talked sweetly to my dog and then wildly waved his hands in a chopping gesture around Ninja's face. Dog people know that this is a bad idea. Luckily I had Ninja on a short lead and as soon as the kid starting waving his hands I strongly cautioned him to stop. However, Ninja very loudly warned this kid with a growling snarl, which I'm sure sounded quite menacing, but of course I knew it to be a big warning with no "teeth" behind it. I tried to tell him! The kid's mom freaked and told me to keep my dog away from her kid. Of course trying to tell her that my dog was minding his own business when her kid challenged him resulted in the blank stare only "not dog people" can manage.

I have to be so careful, though, because the county is a "zero tolerance" county and if Ninja did bite, he would be put down. So around children, especially, I keep him close and put my hand on his head so that if something upsets him, I can stop any reaction right away. It's just not worth the risk, you know?

So, Thursday night we walked and just kept heading out. I wanted to see the side we hadn't gotten to yet. The park is over a mile long, so it's a great walk. About 45 minutes into our walk the kids saw a playground with a big slide on the other side of the creek. We found a place to cross with lots of rocks and very little water. The kids skipped over and headed into the playground. I started over with Ninja by my side. But not for long. Ninja sat down and dug his back paws in. I tugged on the leash. He pulled back. I coaxed. He ignored my efforts. Then he stood up and I thought we were making progress, until he went behind me, and next thing I knew I was in the creek.

I have no reason to believe he knocked me down, he just did not want to cross right there and in an effort to get away the leash caught my legs and I went down. My daughter shrieked, "Mommy, are you OK?" I was muddy, very muddy, but unhurt. Her next questions was, "Is your Coach purse OK?" Ah, a girl after my own heart. Why I took a purse, let alone a good purse is beyond me. But there we were. BTW, the Coach purse is the only "designer" purse I own and was a gift, but I do love it and I"m glad it "wasn't harmed in the filming" of this adventure.

So, remembering that dogs are very clever creatures, I unleashed Ninja and he bounded across the rocks without me just fine. Lesson learned.

To add insult to injury, my husband's game was over 20 minutes early and we were all on the far side of the park when he called. . .and the tag along kid's dad was mad. So we rushed back as quickly as three kids, a dog, and a very muddy woman can.

Maybe next Thursday we'll take a break. Then again, the days are already starting to get shorter and we won't be able to do this for many more Thursdays. Next time I'll take my camera and leave the Coach purse at home.


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