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Keeping a short leash!!!

One of the joyous pastimes in retirement is the daily walk to town with Her and "H" our much loved Labrador. Because he 'speaks English' we dare not utter the word "WALK" until we are literally ready to walk out the door as, on hearing the word, he goes into uncontrollable spins, leaps about and starts herding us toward the door. It's really quite a funny sight but his ecstatic state makes it very difficult to get his harness and lead on him - he simply will not stand still!!!

He knows the routine - into the garage where we keep his walking regalia, put it on then watch me get the remote control device from the car for the auto door and front gates and then we are on our way. Once on the lead he is totally happy to amble along between Her and Me, stopping at strategic points for the occasional sniff and "wee". Through the Cherry Tree Walk reserve and along the tree lined footpaths en route to our township, "H" will sometimes catch a new scent which he simply must investigate and without warning will pull me toward it, dropping his shoulder to accentuate his single-mindedness, if he feels my retraining him as I usually do. Naughty boy.... but I more often than not, submit to his whim!

But when we reach town he is ever so well behaved - there is no attempt to pull or to 'cock his leg' - its as if he saying to everyone "look how good am I"... and he really is. A strikingly pretty boy, he is a magnet for dog lovers and many a person will stop me to ask if they can pat the dog. Of course I always oblige and introduce Harry who absolutely adores the attention from strangers...I truly believe he thinks he's human!!

Whilst he loves people, he is not particularly fond of other dogs, so on seeing other canines approaching, I will keep him on a very short leash and to the other side of the footpath. Frustratingly, other dog owners/walkers do not practice the same courtesy and leave their little "pooches" (many of whom imagine themselves to be much bigger) on long leads with full capacity to launch themselves at my "H". Now he really cannot be bothered with the smaller breeds ,and will usually ignore them, but when they come too close he feels the need to retaliate, hence my pre-emptive measures on approach.

But yesterday it all went horribly wrong. As "H" and I were nearing the Post Office, I observed an elderly gentleman approaching with a Jack Russell on a long lead so I immediately shortened "H's" lead and put him closest to the kerb. As we passed, the Jack Russell, still on a long loose lead did the expected and launched at "H" who, now threatened pulled toward him. I of course pulled him back but in doing so, lost my footing, tripped over my own dog and fell heavily over the kerb onto the road landing between two parked cars. It all happened so quickly and I have little recollection of the actual fall. Luckily my leather man-bag on my shoulder cushioned a worse outcome and whilst I did not break anything, I still sustained painful blows to my hip, elbow and hand, was momentarily disoriented and totally dishevelled. I recall a good Samaritan (Charles)handing me my spectacles which had come adrift into the gutter but were still intact and undamaged, and a shopkeeper who came running to my aid and took me into her store to sit whilst I regathered myself. Through all of this "H" remained by my side even though I was no longer holding his lead - he too was visibly concerned by my sudden fall. The bewildered gentleman gathered his delinquent Jack Russell, offered a fleeting apology and was hastily on his way, leaving me and "H" in the hands of others to deal with my plight.

It could have been much worse - no broken bones, no blow to the head, just very shaken and today I am still very stiff and sore and resting in bed. A misadventure no doubt and hopefully in a day or so after some painkillers and copious applications of some effective ointments for muscular pain, I will be back to my merry self again.

Needless to say, I don't have any happy snaps of this unfortunate event!

A couple of lessons - now in my late 60s, my reflexes are far less responsive and consequently I fall more awkwardly and heavily. It makes me realise that I (indeed, all of us oldies) need to be aware of our lesser resilience and compensate accordingly. It was not dissimilar to Her fall in Berlin earlier this year in that it happened in a wink though in my case yesterday, it has not ended with such a dire outcome. But, I would hope this story alerts all dog owners to be very conscious of others - both people and their canines - who share the pedestrian facilities by keeping their furry friends on a SHORT leash!!

...and remember...have a fabulous retirementLIFE....

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