Monday, November 22, 2010

To Leap, Perchance to Die

Several times a week, my partner and I walk our four dogs together. The walk is lovely, down a rustic path that skirts a flowing stream on one side and fragrant woods on the other. We let the dogs off lead here. Watching them run at fill-tilt down the path and through the brush is such a joy. It seems at these moments that this is what they were born to do, and they love it.

There are a few problems, however. Three out of four of our pooches are not the best at coming when called. And they have become more and more brazen in their exploration lately. Sammy tends to walk too close to the railroad tracks off in the distance. Charlie likes to run up the hill and inspect a few private backyards while up there. But Percy takes the cake. Somewhere around mid-walk, we come to a big duck pond. Here we see an idyllic scene, complete with waterfowl and small mammals scampering about. Lurking beneath the mirrored surface, however are snapping turtles and piranha (okay, maybe none of the latter). We have had a few close calls with them. On the far side, the pond pours over a ledge in a 20-foot waterfall, down to a shallow pool below, filled with jutting rocks and debris. Percy loves this ledge.

The ledge itself is about 18 inches wide and runs the width of the pond, breaking open only for the waterfall itself. The ledge has a 2-foot step-down at one point. Percy usually just scares us by trotting out halfway or so, and coming back. Last week, she got braver. She went out far. My partner called to her, getting very nervous. Percy hopped down the 2-foot step and walked a little close to the falls. "Percy!, get back here," my partner yelled, some desperation now in her voice. She decided to go out on the ledge herself to rescue her, knowing the silly little dog could not scoot back UP those two feet. Now I was afraid. As I made my way to the edge, I heard my partner scream. "NO!!! She JUMPED!"

I ran down to the bottom of the shallow pool, waded in and scanned the water for what I thought MUST be a limp fur ball. I was ready for a November swim. Fortunately (for me!) Sammy located her on the edge and began barking. I ran to the edge, leaned way over and pulled her out. She looked like a drowned rat. I took off my jacket (just like in the movies!) and we wrapped our shivering daredevil up. My partner was crying. We carried Percy a ways back home, setting her down after a while to make sure she had not been injured. She was fine and said in dog body language, "Hey! That was fun! Let's do it again!". We said no.

We came home, made a fire and sat around eating dinner. The dogs, tired out from their excellent adventure, slept peacefully by the hearth. We re-capped, noting the similarity of the leap to the dramatic one taken by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in that movie classic from the sixties. "I can't swim," Sundance says sullenly. Butch bursts out laughing. "Are you kidding?", he asks. "The FALL will kill you!"
They leap, shouting as they drop, survive and go on to further adventures.

Percy must have seen the movie.

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