It was on a day in early spring three years ago that Molly and I took a romp in our favorite park. As often happens, we found ourselves wandering further and further off the beaten paths and deeper and deeper into places where only the wildlife go.
This particular park featured a creek, thick with North Dakota’s particular brand of scrubby trees. In the summer, this creek turns into a trickle, but in spring, the small waterway gurgles along, bolstered by melting snow.
Molly and I twined our way through saplings and branches, following a faint track on the water’s edge. I heard a gurgle ahead and pressed forward. For some reason, I’m drawn to the sound of falling water. Even if the “waterfall” is only twelve inches high, I’ve got to see it.
In a moment, there it was. Just a tiny little dip in the creek’s path, where the water tumbled over a mess of tree roots. I pulled out my phone to take a picture. Molly, meanwhile, entertained herself by nosing around a few paces behind me.
“Molly,” I said, “just don’t cross the creek. You’ll get muddy paws, and then I’ll have to wash your feet when we get home.”
To make my directive more understandable in Doggish, I pointed to the creek and said, “Leave it.”
Molly lowered her head and put a little more space between herself and the creek. ” ‘Kay, mom, Got it.”
I turned back to the miniature waterfall and focused on lining up my picture. I tried several shots, looking for the best angle. (Though why I bothered, considering I was using my cell phone, I’ll never know.)
That’s when I heard the big splash. You know, like someone making a cannon ball in a swimming pool–with a distinct glug sound thrown in for good measure.
I whirled around.
Molly was doggie-paddling in what I had thought was ankle-deep water. She was trying her darndest to get back to the brink and haul herself up. Her eyes were wide and her ears laid back. She caught my glance.
“Ummm,” she whined, “I seriously didn’t mean for this to happen!”
Talk about backwoods acumen. My dog had just fallen into the creek.
Her paws kept slipping on the bank. I ran to her rescue, planning to haul her up by the collar, since I had nothing better to grab onto. But just as I arrived, she finally found her footing and dragged herself out of the water. She was soaked up to the neck.
I couldn’t quit laughing, even as she shook herself off and splattered me with creek water. And here I had been worried about muddy paws.
I laughed all the way home.
I laughed as I gave her a sponge bath on the porch.
I laughed as I toweled her dry.
I still laugh every time I think about it. And I really don’t care anymore if she gets muddy paws. Just as long as we have fun while we’re out exploring. You never know what surprises Mother Nature–and your dog–have in store for you.