Tag Archives: dog-walking

The pitfall of pets: painful pratfalls

Pitfall: n. a hidden or not easily recognized danger or difficulty

Pets: n. animals kept in captivity by their “owners” for companionship

Painful: adj. uncomfortable, agonizing

Pratfall: n. an awkward blunder or mishap, a fall on the buttocks

Our beloved pets may lower our blood pressure but a new report indicates that they also can bring us a world of hurt:

Dogs and cats cause more than 86,000 falls requiring emergency room care each year, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that may be among the first of its kind. That translates into about 240 people who are treated for injuries caused by pets every single day in the United States, the study found.

Cats are involved in some of the falls, but dogs — man’s best friend — are the real culprits, responsible for seven times as many injuries as cats, often while they’re being walked, the report found.

And though more pet-related falls occurred among children and adults in mid-life, elderly people were most likely to break a bone, which can have serious long-term consequences, said Dr. Judy Stevens, the C.D.C. epidemiologist who wrote the report. Women were at more than double the risk for injuries than men.

I certainly can speak to this! I’ve only been to the emergency room once in my life and it was when I tripped over my black standard poodle in the dark and split my lip bigtime on a concrete pillar. Lots of blood, many stitches. No lost teeth, thank god, but I still have the scar.

A few months ago I was walking the same dog and she suddenly cut in front of me (a squirrel!!). I tripped over her leash and slammed into the pavement hitting my chin, hands, elbows, hipbones and knees simultaneously. No hospital trip, but I was crippled for a week and over the next couple of months I became a profit center for my chiropractor.

My sister also has a black standard poodle (it’s a family thing). Last spring she fell over her on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, resulting in her first emergency room visit ever – and a broken collar bone.

Because they seem so silly and mundane, these accidents were never studied until now. And on reflection, it seems so obvious that pets can be hazards… how many times have you heard yourself describe your cat or dog as “always being under foot”?

To make the math easy, let’s assume that each ER visit costs an average of $1,000. That’s $86,000,000 right there. Then we add on followup visits, chiropractor visits, lost work time and we’re talking real money.

Pets need to come with a warning label and glow-in-the-dark jackets.

Poodle problems

My dog looks young and perky. She is still lean and bouncy. However she is 14, deaf, and foolish.

Once upon a time I could let her out in the back yard when we woke up in the morning and she would do her business and come back inside.  My yard covers a third of an acre, which seemed to satisfy her need for exploration. She stayed within its bounds, even though it’s only partially fenced.

Lately she’s taken to wandering. Bored after years of the same damn dogfood every day, perhaps she seeks some hapless workman’s lunch? Bored after years of the same damn yard, perhaps she seeks new vistas? Bored after years of the same damn owner, perhaps she seeks fresh love?

Today she went too far.  Dangerously too far – like all the way to the main drag a couple of blocks away, where she was trotting up the middle of the road.  A neighbor chased her home and rang my doorbell at 7 a.m. with Molly in tow.

Whatever her reasons, I have to put a stop to it.  Legally speaking, we have a leash law and she’s not on one during these early morning meanders. But mainly she needs to be protected from cars, and cars need to be protected from her. She doesn’t hear warning honks so she just muddles merrily along.

I’m beginning to see the writing on the wall. Either I stagger out with her at dawn (in the dark…and in the winter in the rain) or I get a long lead and tie her up in the back yard while I come to consciousness.  (I could just stand there with her but it often takes her up to ten minutes to find the perfect poop place – you could say she’s a picky pooper and as I’ve said, patience is not my strong suit.)

One of the challenges of owning a dog…