There are some moments when, as a dog guardian, I fail spectacularly. Our little dogs, no matter how smart, how well-trained, how reliable, are still dogs. And it’s our responsibility, as the humans in their lives who expect them to conform to our silly human rules, to safeguard our pups.
Today we experienced one of those moments, one of those moments when I should have known better. One of those moments when I should have reacted in my human way instead of trusting Lucas to react in a non-dog way.
Today, a horse kicked my Lucas.
Gah, the guilt, omg, the guilt. A local trainer invited Emmett and Lucas, among a few other dogs, to spend the morning running around her farm. How could we pass up five glorious acres of running space for the boys to play and socialize and work on attentiveness and recall in the process? Those five fenced-in acres turned out to be five mostly-fenced-in acres. There was one hole. One tiny little hole where the fence crossed a creek bed. And, of course, Lucas discovered the hole and scooted himself underneath while we people stood chatting several acres away.
On the other side of that fence was a horse, tucked away into her safe space, a one-acre area with a small barn for her to avoid the dogs. For an instant, nothing happened. Lucas sniffed the horse. The horse stood still, tolerating this invasion to her privacy. Then Lucas turned playful. He jumped around the horse. He play-bowed. He ran right in front of the horse, nose-bopping and nudging her.
And that was the moment we failed him.
Instead of mobilizing, instead of running across the field, instead of calling him… we froze. All three people standing in the paddock froze. The horse did not freeze. She ran to hide behind the barn, and Lucas chased! Fun game! he clearly thought, his tail wagging, his tongue hanging out.
John started to scale the fence, leash in hand, ready to grab him, when from the other side of the barn, Lucas yelped a loud, painful yelp. He limped around the barn, and John got the leash on him. He bit his tongue; blood pooled around his mouth. His eye was red and puffy, and he hung his head, tail down, thinking he was in big trouble.
Thankfully, about two minutes later he was running with the other dogs, playing, and taking treats. But woah, the guilt. Why didn’t we react? Why didn’t we call him or jump in there faster or do anything? We just stood there watching? The trainer, in fact, encouraged us to whip out our phone and snap a picture while Lucas sniffed the horse. “A Kodak moment,” she said.
Gah, we all should have known better, and now my baby is hurt. Not badly, luckily. His face is puffy and his eye is red. He has a small cut under his eye, and his limp will go away in a day or two of alternating heating pads and ice bags. Maybe I’ll double his Dasuquin dose tonight.
But my God, my baby got hurt when I should have been more attentive, I should have known better, I should have reacted and protected my guy.
(My guy who, by the way, is now curled up on the sofa, snoring softly, with his belly full of cheese and turkey, his two favorite foods, because plying him with cheese and turkey made me feel slightly better…)