Today is the first day of spring, and right on cue, it’s warming up in east Oklahoma. The leaves on the trees aren’t budding just yet, but the birds are tweeting and the first baby snake has already been squashed on the road.
A couple of kids, brother and sister, stopped to talk to me about Roo while she was nosing around some trees at the top of a shallow ravine. Eventually the conversation came around to a Great Dane they have at home.
“We had three Great Danes, but the first one got shot,” the little girl said.
“And then the second one got shot, too,” the boy said.
“Yeah,” his sister said. “So we only have one now.
“How did they get shot?” I asked.
“Our neighbor shot them,” the girl said.
“He’s just mean,” the boy said.
“Did the dogs attack him or anything like that?”
“No. They were just standing there. He’s just mean.”
I was stopping myself from saying what I wanted to say about their neighbor when I happened to look up from the kids towards Roo. It was the exact moment that she was falling down the ravine. All I saw was her head, like Wile E. Coyote’s, looking at me, her ears straight up in the air as her head, with a surprised expression, dropped into the void. I ran over and looked over the edge into the drop, which is about nine feet drop there — enough to break something. Some long ago paratrooper training must have kicked in, because she managed the fall perfectly, probably tucking her legs in and rolling when she contacted the ground. It’s the first time I ever saw Roo lose her footing.
She was fine. She spent the next ten minutes sitting with the little girl and letting her pet her.