Tito, my Dalmatian dog, had been agitating for his walk. It was a frozen February afternoon and the roads and pavements were encrusted with ice, the previous week’s snow compressed by foot-fall into an undulating glacier.
A sane option would have been to limit the walk to the end of the road, a five minute jaunt on a flat, non-hazardous track. But no, my dog had abundant energy and my boots had rugged soles so I opted for the usual two-mile circuit. The inevitable happened on a downward slope by the nearby woods. The fall was spectacular; my front foot sped out from under me, my other foot (in trying to compensate) followed suit, propelling me into the air where I seemed to hover parallel to the ground before crash-landing on my back with a sickening thud.
Despite the acute pain radiating from my arse, my foremost anxiety was whether my plummet had been witnessed. As I gingerly lifted myself into a sitting position my humiliation was confirmed, a party of four adults and twice as many children were walking up the slope towards me, concern etched on their faces. I raised my hand to signal I was unharmed. At this moment 70 pounds of excitable Dalmatian leaped over my shoulders, his dangly bits coming to rest against the nape of my neck. Temporally marooned in this straddle position, Tito panicked and instinctively humped the back of my head as if I was a bitch on heat.
I still wonder how those parents explained Tito’s behavior to their offspring.