The indomitable Maggie came to town yesterday with her family. She was playful as always, nibbling away, slinking into someone’s lap, sidling up for a pat and a hug.
We were all out on M & B’s porch, surrounded by empty planters still packed with last year’s soil and winter-dried morning glory vines wrapped around strings stretched vertically to the base of the porch above.
Everyone sat by the round table – that is, everyone but me, who stood by the sliding door, shifting weight from one leg to the other to keep pain at bay. Maggie was wending her way between our feet, curling up under the table, perking up at the revving sound of a car engine or the sight of a squirrel nearby.
At one point, I leaned down to Maggie, mussed her shaggy hair and bent to pick her up. In an instant, I wobbled slightly and lost my footing, letting go of the puffy pooch. She fell backwards with a thud, lying for a moment on her backside, her little legs and paws flailing about, a confused look crossing her face, uncertain how to right herself back up.
I reached out for her quickly, stood up and held her close. By cradling her in my arms, I tried to reassure her that I meant no harm. Unbruised but shaken up, Maggie looked around as if seeking solace and solidarity from the others. Thankfully, nobody leapt out of their chair to rescue her. In fact, it all happened in a matter of seconds, so some of the others, engrossed in conversation, missed the episode altogether.
Minutes later, maybe longer than necessary, I released Maggie onto the floor and she sniffed and scurried about, as if reassuring me that all was forgiven. But my heart raced for awhile longer, maybe because I’d seen her fall down, smack onto her back, her puppy eyes looking up at me in shock and confusion. How strong, I wondered, are a doggie’s spine and sacrum, to withstand that fall?