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on wet dogwalks

Saturday it was warm, so I threw on shorts for Ajay's dogwalk. We went up to the ponds by Japan House, and Ajay kept wanting to go in the water, but I kept telling him "no" because I didn't want him in the nasty green pond. But... the day was warm, the mud on the bank was looking awfully attractive to romp my feet through, so I eventually went down there with him. He splashed in the shallows for a while, and I cooled my feet in the wet mud on the bank. Fun.

Then a couple other dogs arrived, and their owners were throwing balls and sticks into the water, and Ajay decided he needed to go fetch them. He only rarely does an honest dog paddle, usually splashing with his front paws as if he were trying to climb on top of the water or something. This only pushes further away from him whatever he's trying to get to. So he kept swimming further and further out. I didn't want to take him off his flexi lead since I don't quite trust him off-lead, so when he hit the end of it I had to wade out further so he could reach the ever-receding ball. The mud out there was green from algae and ankle-deep, kinda gross even though it was still feeling pretty good to my toes.

I was secretly pleased that the other dog owners by now had all removed their shoes and socks and were splashing around in the water with their own dogs.

When Ajay tired himself out, we walked back along the bank towards home, and I had an instructive experience. I hit some especially soft mud, and went down to my ankle. I took another step, also going in to my ankle, but then pulling the first foot out of the mud sent my second foot down a couple inches further. This repeated itself for a few more very slow steps, until I was completely mired in about 8 inches of mud and still slowly sinking. I wasn't in any particular dire straits because all I had to do was make a 90 degree turn away from the pond and within a few steps was on the hard ground up the bank, but in that moment it hit me: oh, so THIS is how people get themselves killed in quicksand. The image in my mind of a field of mud too large to walk out of before becoming mired beyond my strength to pull either leg out, combined with the reality of what I had just experienced, was really very powerful and disturbing.

But it was a beautiful sunny day, and Ajay and I were safe in the grass again, so muddy dog and muddy owner tromped home to bath and shower, respectively. I'm so glad Ajay got to swim. He loves to do it, but I'm usually too weary to consider the bath he will need upon returning home to let him go in the water.

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Charley

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