I had a hell of a fright yesterday.
Shep and I bundled up in the truck to head west in search of beautiful fall colours, especially a sunrise which is typically so striking in Calgary at this time of year.
We were a little late getting going, though, and missed the sunrise but for a few bursts of colour at Edworthy Park at the northwest end of the city.
I had wanted to get all the way out to the Cochrane turnoff and capture the sun rising over some prairie fields. Ah, maybe next weekend we'll try again.
As long as Shep is in decent enough shape, that is.
Yes ... I have myself an injured pup.
We went onto Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, just north of Cochrane. It's really quite a stunning little place. The lower end of the hill is littered with miniature water falls, brooks and creeks, bridges and falling leaves.
You can hear the rush of the water the second you step out of your vehicle in the parking lot.
We had some time to kill before our company arrived. We were meeting Dana and Tundra, who'd never been out to the area before ... even though Dana grew up in Calgary.
You might recognize Dana's name. She works for our veterinarian, Dr. Bill, at Westmount Animal Clinic in Kensington.
She's also been a teammate, a landlady, a shoulder, a drinking buddy and a very close friend.
Shep and I went for a quick jaunt back up the road. I wanted to see if I could get some lively cow pictures, better than the ones I captured from my truck while they blocked the road upon our entry.
And that's where our day turned scary.
Shep typically will leap over a cattle guard, as he did south of Vulcan this past spring. Whether it's his age catching up to him or the fact he still had his leash on, he tried walking across the cattle guard.
He was hesitant at first and I should have told him to just stay there while I went a little ahead to talk to the cows.
He insisted on trying to walk across the cattle guard.
I heard a whimper behind me and saw my beloved dog with his hind legs fallen and stuck. I could see the panic in his eyes.
I dropped my camera to the ground, lifted his bum up and helped him out.
But then he wouldn't put any weight on right hind leg. I screamed. He yelped.
OK, calm down, I thought. You freaking out isn't going to help matters any at all.
I felt his leg, searching for any hint of a break ... waiting for him to snap at me if it hurt too much.
OK, he still wasn't putting any weight down. He was in the middle of the road and my truck was about 100 metres back that way.
Adrenalin is a funny thing, though. I scooped up my 110-pound dog and carried him to the side of the road.
I laid him down and with a speed unknown to any of my ball teammates in the past, I sprinted to my truck.
I jumped in and drove back to the spot where he lay, then leaped out of my truck, hoping that I would be able to lift him into it and speed back to the city.
My feet hit the ground and you know what? The fucker came running toward me.
My head went from 'oh my God, I could kill you right now' to 'thank Christ, you're OK' in about two seconds.'
He had no problem jumping into the truck, while my head went back and forth between anger and relief.
Mostly relief ... I swear.
The anger started to turn inwards, knowing I repeatedly promise to keep that dog safe from danger for every day I humanly can.
And I didn't.
He recovered quickly and his spirits soared when he saw Dana's truck pull into the parking lot and out jumped his best buddy Tundra.
We walked and took pictures for a good long while, but we didn't do any hills or anything overly strenuous ... hell, Dana and I both getting up there, too!
It's been more than a day since the fright and Shep is still pretty stiff from his trauma. He's taking aspirin, ground up and mixed into an egg (spoiled, I know!).
Plus, I noticed a tremendous gash on the inside of his right hind that will require some nursing over the next few days.
A cone? That won't stay on.
A Tensor bandage is doing for now.
But Shep is a fairly determined dog and when he wants to lick at something, he'll get to it.
And thus, my task for the next few days is just keeping him away from that area.
I owe him as much.