A Country Life: Spring. Many Happy Returns
I dare to presume that a great many women spend the morning of their birthdays with their feet soaking in water, but I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that not too many of them do so for the reasons that I am.
The day dawned fair and clement – well, okay, I don’t know whether that’s true or not. I didn’t see the dawn. In fact I lay in bed until almost ten o’clock. Hey, it’s my birthday, leave me alone.
Suffice it to say that by the time I rolled out of bed, stretched, yawned and let everybody out (‘everybody’ being the various four-legged critters that call Le Shack home), the sky was a warm, inviting blue, with high fleecy clouds of every atmospheric description portending more lovely weather to come.
Too bad they didn’t foreshadow What Happened Next.
I busied myself with morning stuff and when I heard the mutts barking I paid it little attention, even though it was the high-pitched shriek-y barking that told me that they had some unfortunate creature cornered and were irritating it no end.
I knew it wasn’t a snake; they’d been barking at the exact same spot yesterday, and snakes don’t hang around. Probably an echidna, which didn’t worry me, because echidnas are more than a match for a few yappy mutts. They just burrow into loose ground and roll up and the dog gets a well-deserved sore mouth.
No, the only thing that worried me was that it might be a wombat. You don’t want your dog to go down a wombat hole. Wombats are hefty, tough-hided, tenacious little animals and quite crafty. If they get between a dog and the entrance, they can squish it to death. Then, too, they carry mange, germs, fleas and Lord-only-knows what else, so yeah, I could do without a wombat.
We’ll skip over the next uneventful half hour or so to the point in time when I realised that I didn’t hear the border collie. Hmmm….
Having dogs you adore really is like being their parent. I love them all for different reasons; the soft spot I have for Bandit being because he serendipitously arrived on my birthday many years ago.
I went outdoors to investigate. I grabbed a pair of gloves, which are always handy, but I didn’t stop to change into better footgear, which will be significant.
(Stop that! I don’t care if you can tell where this is going, don’t get ahead of me here folks!)
I took a few deep breaths and up the hill I started, slowly (it’s my lungs, but that’s another story).
And then I saw Bandit.
He was stuck. He had evidently been attempting to free himself, because the soft pink tongue was hanging out of his mouth and he was panting heavily. Every so often he’d paw and paddle frantically with his front legs then give up with fatigue.
I wondered if he’d gotten stuck in a pipe.
(We live on a construction site, remember? We’re got all manner of building materials about the place.)
When I got to him, I found that he was trapped in a gosh-awful, almost indescribable position. He was on a slant, back end in a hole, shoulders caught under a fallen tree, lying partially on an old broken wooden pallet and partly on a large rectangular tin whosy-whatsit that’s used for something-or-other.
It was hard for me to get to him and impossible to get really close because of the slope, the branches, and the brambles and bracken in the way. Further, I needed assistance both to climb and to make sure I didn’t fall.
A young acacia obliged and I grabbed onto small supple branches and hauled myself into a reasonably good position.
The dead tree looked like it was going to be too much for me, but I had to give it a go.
I heaved. Unbelievably it moved, not much, but enough to create a little space above Bandit.
‘Come on, boy’, I puffed. ‘Come on now.’
A few years back this would have been enough space for Bandit to extricate himself easily, but because he’s an older dog, his back legs don’t have the strength they used to. Now, due no doubt to fatigue, he was finding it too hard to push.
He slipped back, further than he had been in before I started, I saw with dismay.
It was no use, and I saw right away that he was going to exhaust himself before he got out.
I started to worry. All other things being equal, the silly dog would just have to lie there until Martin got back. (Forgot to tell you that bit; husband was a couple of hundred miles away getting the van serviced. That’s why I had to attempt this on my own.)
I could bring Bandit water if push came to shove, but there were two other problems: one, the tin plate he was resting on heating up when the sun got high enough to hit it and two, when Bandit had raised himself I'd seen blood on his flank, and I didn’t know how bad a wound it was.
Fortunately, as I mentally plotted the sun’s trajectory, it looked like the aforementioned acacia tree would come to the rescue and shield the spot from the worse of the blaze.
I felt something sticky in my shoe. Must’ve got a piece of eucalypt in it and the gum was oozing out.
Bandit looked pathetically sorry for himself and I wondered what was best to do. I decided that before I started phoning close neighbours (and let me tell you that ‘close neighbour’ means something different to me than it does to you) I’d ring Martin and see how far away he was.
Husband was planning to do grocery shopping on the way back and I thought that we might have to forego that.
‘Bandit, do you have any idea how much of a pain in the rump you are?’ I asked crossly.
Bandit whimpered, and I instantly felt sorry for him again.
He rallied, and attempted to free himself once more.
I let go of my safety rope…er…branch, and had at lifting the dead tree trunk.
In one of those minor miracle moments, it worked. Bandit got his legs under him and though I had to let the trunk go (luckily I didn’t drop it) I realised that if the dog could hang in there just a few more seconds he was going to get out.
And just like that it was all over.
All those horrid scenarios that had gone through my head now seemed like so much unwarranted hysteria.
Bandit was spent. He lay panting on the grass, the dead tree trunk in front of him, the hole behind. I reached down to help him over the trunk, but he was having none of it, he was pooped.
As he was no longer in any danger, I started back down the hill. That fool dog could just clamber out himself when he was ready. Of course I now saw a clear path to get in and out, and nothing seemed very daunting at all.
Then I noticed that I was limping. I looked down. That’s funny; I don’t remember these shoes having a red lining.
Yeah, I had a small puncture wound where a bit of twig had stabbed me, and the oozing stickiness I had felt was blood. Mine.
So here I am, feet in a bucket of warm salted water as I type to you, and Bandit stretched fully out, snoozing, none the worse for wear and not a care in the world.
And that’s how we roll at the Chez Moi.
Happy Birthday, Mrs Curry, and Many Happy Returns of the Day!
Aleta Curry is a successful business owner with particular expertise in small business and shoestring startups. She is also a prolific writer and an accredited valuer of Fine Art and Antiques. Aleta seeks to redress the serious gap in the technological knowhow of small business owners through writing, speaking and small business services. You can connect with Aleta on social media at:
Do have a look at some of my other posts - often amusing, sometimes poignant, always informative:
- Try a little Tenderness
- Do You Understand Provenance?
- How to pull off a business coup with a Tea Party
- Five antiques and collecting terms your friends (probably) don’t know.
- Entrepreneurship is....