I was reading an article on the Internet the other day about a woman who fell while walking her dog, and as she was lying injured on the ground, the dog jumped on her and viciously attacked her.
Below the article, a professional dog-trainer (or so he claimed) had written several comments. He said that a well-trained dog would have nudged the fallen woman, licked her, or even pawed at her to try to make her respond and get up, never leaving her side. But an untrained dog would have run off to parts unknown and left her lying there to die...or, as this particular dog had done, take advantage of her vulnerable state and attack her...because it sensed she wouldn’t be able to defend herself.
After I read that, I cast curious glances at my two dogs – Wynter and Eden – a Rottweiler and a boxer/lab mix. What, I wondered, would they do if I fell while walking them and I couldn’t get up? Would they make any effort to help me or would they make a mad dash for the nearest burger joint? Or even worse, would they seize the opportunity to get even with me for every time I’ve scolded them or fed them economy-brand dog food, and tear my clothes to shreds?
Curious (and foolish) soul that I am, I decided to find out. So the next day, while the dogs were out playing in the yard and I was raking nearby, I figured it was the perfect time to try the “falling down” test.
With a dramatic gasp, so the dogs would hear me, I fell face-first onto the grass.
Well, actually, I didn’t really fall. It was more like I got down on my knees, first making sure there was no doggie “souvenirs” on the grass, and then I carefully stretched out on my stomach and rested my forehead on my folded arms so my nose wouldn’t stick into anything undesirable – like an anthill.
No sooner did I assume the position did I hear the sound of running paws heading toward me.
As I lay there unmoving, the thought crossed my mind that with two dogs weighing over 80 lbs. each coming straight for me, perhaps to pounce on my back, I just might end up making my fake test come true and not be able to get up again. In retrospect, I thought it might have made more sense to test only one dog at a time rather than to subject my aging, brittle bones to both of them at once.
Within seconds, I felt a cold, wet nose slide underneath my hair and then poke into my left ear. The nose quickly made its way down underneath my face and pushed up hard, trying to make me lift my head. Meanwhile, what felt like a heavy paw whacked me on my right shoulder.
I remained perfectly still, not reacting, even though it was a real challenge with all of the nuzzling and poking going on, especially since I’m really ticklish.
That’s when it happened. I don’t know which dog’s paw it was, but it slid up underneath the back of my shirt, got hooked on the elastic waistband of my sweatpants and then yanked them partway down, taking my underwear with them.
My first thought was that if a low-flying plane happened to appear overhead at that moment, the pilot probably would mistake me for a dead plumber. My second thought was that I really needed to get the dogs’ nails clipped.
Before I was able reach down to pull up my pants and remedy the drafty southern-exposure situation, however, the cold, wet, dog nose returned…with a vengeance.
Believe me, that technique really worked. I was back up on my feet in a flash. The minute I moved, both dogs acted as if they’d just succeeded in resurrecting me from the dead. Wagging excitedly, they jumped all over me.
I figured they had passed the obedience test. They hadn’t run off and left me to die and they hadn’t eaten me for lunch. That was good enough for me.
But if I ever really do fall and end up needing help, I don’t think I’ll be able to rely on my dogs to run and get it for me, the way Lassie used to whenever Timmy fell into the well. No, I think I’ll just have to make sure to carry my cell phone with me at all times.
And maybe I also should think about buying some nose warmers for my dogs, just to be safe.
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