After my two old dogs both died, three weeks apart, I had Little Monkey on her own for a year. It took that long to find a dog of suitable energy to match my poor anxious, unsocialised, unbalanced dog. She chose Mr Spaghetti Legs. He is good enough to put up with most of her nonsense, most of the time, by calmly ignoring it.
So, before he came on the scene, Little Monkey went on lots of walks alone with me. A favourite place, on a sunny day, are the walks along by a river on the green belt. You can meet lots of other dogs there, but mostly they are very well behaved, so it is a good place for LM to go. Also there is plenty of space to pass by other dogs, so she doesn’t have to get too close.
This particular afternoon I had decided to walk on a less-frequented pathway. Once we were away from the road, and there were no dogs approaching, I sat her down, took her lead off and did a long 20 metre stay. When I call her to me, she must come straight to me and sit down; then I know she is listening, If she doesn’t, we do it all over again.
Once she is listening, I pat her twice on the side and say “OK”. And off she runs. Here, there and everywhere, looking for squirrels, or anything interesting. I don’t worry if she is far away, because I know she will always come back. Also, even if I can’t see her, I can usually hear her, crashing through the undergrowth in gay abandon.
We were both having a lovely time, going our own separate ways, just enjoying the birdsong in the trees, and the sun on our backs. After a while I stopped and looked for LM. My path had risen slightly, and I could see out to the right, across an open expanse of grass in a large dip, ending a good 20 metres away in a stone retaining wall, about 2 metres high. Hmm, no sign of LM.
Suddenly, she appeared at the top of the retaining wall. She stood for a moment, like the Monarch of the Glen. Magnificent, strong, healthy, happy dog.
OK, I thought, I’ll just wait for her. She’ll have to go back and round to where the wall is low and she can access the green field part and so reach me.
There was a second when we both looked at each other. Me, waiting for her to go back and round; her – who knows what was going through her head.
Then she jumped. Two metres straight down. Just leaped into space, all four feet out.
She landed with a heavy thump as her legs gave way beneath her and her chest hit the ground.
I’m thinking: “She’s definitely broken a leg. Cannot possibly fall that far and not break something. But it’ll be OK, cos I can carry her. She only weighs 23kg. I can carry her back to the car, if I stop and rest along the way.”
In the second it took me to think the above, she toppled sideways at ninety degrees to the direction of motion.
Now I’m thinking: “She’s broken a leg, and twisted everything. So we’ve got dislocated joints too.”
So here is an action replay. Dog leaps into mid air. Falls flat on chest, crumpling legs underneath. Flops sideways, snapping legs off at joint.
I am still telling myself, it’ll be OK. I’ll carry her to the car – somehow, when up she pops! Starts running down the grassy dip, back up again, and now starts looking for a way to climb the one metre wall that I am standing behind.
“Go round!” I tell her, waving my arm.
She backs up a bit and finds a broken section of the wall, a little lower. It is a stone wall with a 40cm flat top. She leaps at this and gets her front paws on, and hangs there for a moment, claws scraping on the stone as she slowly slips backwards! She tries again, and makes it this time. Runs up to me, all happy, tail wagging, tongue lolling.
I hug my silly, adorable, unbreakable dog!
No-one was around. No-one saw this amazing feat that rivalled anything Lassie ever did! I did not have a camera or phone to record any of it. Just another day in the life of Little Monkey!