Years ago I fell in love with James Herriot’s books. He wrote of his experiences as a country vet in Yorkshire, England. One story in particular pops into my mind often because of an old farmer complaining about having to take big steps and then little steps while walking through the crowded streets of town. I can relate!
Each area of our sanctuary is inhabited with furry road blocks. Some are smaller than others, and some are more mobile than others. Knowing which road block is likely to move just as I begin to step over it is a skill that I must continually sharpen.
My kitchen area has eleven little barriers and one large one. They all move at a different pace, and some are more likely than others to settle in just behind me. I learned quite awhile back to avoid turning around quickly with a knife in my hand. The consequences of that action could easily be catastrophic for everyone involved. That standard also applies when I have a heavy skillet full of hot food in my hand. So I plan my route across my kitchen floor as carefully as possible, knowing that my course must be extremely flexible.
Our enclosed back porch is home to fourteen little guys. Most of these dogs are seniors and their pace is consistently slow. Their trajectory, however, is almost never consistent. Each morning when I feed I enter the back porch with a tall stack of food bowls carefully measured and stacked in a specific order for the individual needs of the babies waiting impatiently to be fed. Two or three of these little guys know their bowl is close to the bottom and therefore one of the last to be dished out. They follow each other, just a step in front of me, in a zig-zag pattern all the way down the porch. I take a step and stop while they cross in front of me. I take another step, hand out a bowl of food, and stop while they cross in front of me. There is no “as the crow flies” path down the length of that porch.
Three of our German Shepherds and little Delilah reside in the back of our house with access to a long hallway that leads to my laundry room. That hall is always littered with large, often immovable hairy road blocks. I took a header into a laundry basket one day because I carried it in front of me blocking my vision of the floor. Jake, my large male shepherd, was not pleased when a laundry basket full of me landed on top of him during a late afternoon nap.
With the exception of one ill-advised trip down that hall in the dark, we have all managed to avoid injury as we try to occupy the same space. That particular fall left me sprawled out on the floor with a fingernail torn half off and a shoulder that ached for several weeks. Thankfully the dogs were fine, and my injuries healed quicker than my pride.
My life is full of big steps and then little steps. This description applies not only to my travels through my own home, but my journey through a self-imposed mandate to rescue as many senior, special-needs, and abandoned dogs as we can.