The stars really were beautiful that late summer evening. With each blink of my eyes the sky became clearer, a curtain of black embroidered with countless sparkles of light. As I lay on the grass of the intermural field near my home, I couldn’t help but admire the beauty of the night sky. Now how I got there, well, I need to step back a bit to get to that point.
Eighteen months earlier, the day after Christmas, I had brought home two roly poly, completely adorable Rottweiler puppies named Taz and Mickey. Having grown up with ranch dogs, these were my first Rottweilers and my first experience with puppies. It was also the first time I lived with dogs in the house, our ranch dogs having been relegated to living either in the garage or outside. This new experience resulted in a rather costly learning curve of dealing with highly energetic and easily bored Rottweiler puppies. During this period, I coined a saying that I stick by to this day:
“There is no more destructive force on this planet than two bored Rottweiler puppies.”
|Taz & Mickey at about 16 weeks. So innocent looking aren't they?|
That learning curve included teaching myself how to repair sheetrock walls, replace stair handrails, buying replacement hats, boots, and gloves for my roommate after theirs met untimely deaths in the jaws of Taz and Mickey, as well as assorted fence and lawn repair skills. I also learned, thankfully, that tired dogs were well-behaved dogs. To achieve the goal of tired dogs, I scheduled long walks morning and night as well as play time in the large intermural fields across the street from my house. In the fields the dogs could romp to their hearts’ content, resulting in a peaceful crash into slumber when they returned home.
At the time, I enjoyed jogging for exercise. Not anything major, as anyone who knows me can attest I don’t have a marathon runner’s body nor discipline. Still, a moderately paced jog was a good way to clear my head and get some exercise myself. Though I enjoyed this type of exercise, I didn’t jog with my dogs until they were over a year old, per the advice of my veterinarian. The reason for this being that because Rottweilers grow so quickly, jogging might cause joint issues during their development. So when Taz and Mickey reached eighteen months of age I decided to take my pups out for their first jog. Understand that when I say pups that applies to their mental status only, because physically they were more adult than puppy. Taz was already eighty pounds and Mickey weighed in at almost ninety pounds.
In preparation for this outing, I had decided to take them out late at night. Nighttime allowed for the heat of the day to pass and would ensure that I had walked them so that pooping and peeing wouldn’t be an issue. It was after ten when I put the dogs’ leashes on, and their excitement at the non-routine outing was evident as they exuberantly bounced off of one another, each one taking turns at playfully biting the other.
Half walking, half being pulled across the street, we reached the vast expanse of closely mowed grass that made up the intermural field. Taz and Mickey thought for sure this was time to run and play, and after trying to jog a little with them on leash, I gave up fighting the hyperactive, fur-covered devils that seemed hell bent on tying all three of us together in a Gordian Knot with their leashes. I unclipped the leashes from their collars, and like a shot they disappeared into the dark in a flurry of growls and rumbling paws. Freed from my canine hoodlums, I started my jog, all the while listening to where my dogs were, an easy task given how vocal they were as they played. Even as focused as they were on wrestling with each other, they still kept within fifty yards of me as I did the fat man shuffle around the perimeter of the field.
It was on my second lap that I really got into the jogging zone. My mind was focused on my breathing and on the pace of my steps. Still, my ears kept track of my dogs, that sensory option being my only way to really do so. Black dogs on a green field in the pitch black of night meant that my eyes were worthless in the effort.
I remember exactly where I was when the unplanned stargazing occurred. I had been running east, along the south edge of the field, about one hundred yards from my house. Somewhere from behind I heard Taz and Mickey growling as they wrestled and kept pace with me. The growls grew louder. Then I heard the thunder of Rottweiler paws hitting turf at quick intervals. They were coming. I told myself to just keep breathing and just keep jogging. The sound of Taz and Mickey grew louder.
I hoped they wouldn’t run into me.
That was the last thing through my mind before my legs flew out from under me. Briefly, I was parallel with the ground and caught my first glimpse of the stars. Gravity, that merciless, unforgiving law of nature, then did its work. I landed with a thud, the wind from my already taxed lungs rushing out upon impact. Fading quickly were the sounds of Taz and Mickey, still running, playing and growling, oblivious of the havoc they had wrecked. Struggling to catch my breath, I lay on the cool grass staring skyward. The stars were, indeed, beautiful.
|Taz and Mickey at about three years old. Hogging the bed as always.|