Four laughing kids swarmed around the back yard under Suzie’s ever-watchful eye. One was digging a great canal in the sandbox, another was gliding back and forth on a swing, and the other two were taking turns on the slide. They scrambled up the short ladder and gave a shriek of excitement as they zipped down the plastic slide. Suzie idly thought that they sure made it look like fun.
A woman appeared at the back door and called out, “OK kiddos, time to come in for supper!”
Having worked up quite the appetite, all four clamored to get into the house claiming that they were starving.
“Wash your hands,” their mother reminded them as they ran past her, “Are you coming in?” she turned her attention to Suzie.
Suzie thumped her furry tail once in response, but made no move from her favorite nap spot. The woman leaded over to scratch behind the German Shepherd’s ears and held up her end of the seemingly one-sided conversation.
“Suit yourself then. I’m sure there will still be crumbs under the kitchen table when you come in later.”
The door closed and Suzie’s attention was drawn back to the slide at the very end of the swing set. She had never paid much attention to any of the things in the back yard that the kids played with. But just yesterday they managed to coax her into their tiny swimming pool, and even she had to admit that the cool water was a relief on such a hot summer day. She was even secretly hoping next time the temperatures climbed that she would again be invited into the pool. This had made her start to wonder, what would it be like to fly down the plastic slide?
There were certain things that the people did that she couldn’t attempt. The swings obviously were not meant for curious canines to try out. She could dig in the sandbox, but why bother when she had the whole back yard to dig around in? Besides, she usually got scolded pretty sternly by the adults of the house whenever she dug holes. There were those two-wheeled contraptions that the kids rode around on, but she’d had her tail run over by one of them last year when one kid was still learning how to properly steer. Since then, she tried to give the weird metal pretzels a pretty wide berth. And then there was the slide… She wasn’t quite sure if she could manage the ladder rungs, but there were only two of them. Perhaps…
Glancing quickly about to be sure that no one was observing her she silently crept over to the swing set and placed her front paws on the bottom rung. She was able to get them to the top of the slide easily enough, but her back feet were still firmly planted on the grass below. She wasn’t quite sure what to do next, but after a bit of hopping and scrambling she finally sat at the top of the slide. It began to sink in that now she was up, she would have to get down. It sure seemed an awfully lot higher than it had looked from the ground. Suzie was debating what the best way to proceed would be when she felt her front paws slipping. She tried to regain her balance, but had already slipped too far. Ready or not, she was on her way down. The wind rippled through her fur, and she had just decided that she understood why the kids seemed to enjoy this so much, when she ran out of slide.
Suzie had not expected the ground to meet her that quickly. She definitely did NOT anticipate how firmly her nose would impact the hard ground at the bottom of the slide. (So THAT was why the humans sat up on their trip down!) Her pride was slightly bruised, but a swift look around assured her that there had been no witnesses to her embarrassment. She slunk back over to her napping spot by the back door and sulked about her dusty, throbbing nose. Throwing a paw over it to protect it from further injury, she sighed heavily and pondered why she had ever thought that it was a good idea in the first place.
Now, German Shepherds are rather particular about two things: their ears and their nose. With ears the size of small satellite dishes that stand at constant attention they were, understandably, pretty picky about what got near their ears. After their ears, their nose was the second thing that they were rather protective of. A nose was important. It could sniff out all sorts of interesting things. As such, most of them were pretty spleeny about any injury, no matter how minor, to their ears or their nose. And boy, did Suzie’s nose HURT!
After a bit of reflection, and after the pain in her nose quieted to a dull ache, Suzie did have to admit that the ride down was pretty fun. It had just been the sudden thump at the end that soured her experience. Still, fun or not, she decided that she wasn’t willing to risk it again. She’d jump in the pool anytime the kids coaxed her in, but the rest of the stuff in the back yard was better left to them. Content with her decision, she stretched out and dozed until the lady of the house appeared again at the door.
“Have you been sleeping here all this time?” she asked with a laugh, “You must be so bored now! Why don’t you come in and have a bite of the supper leftovers?”
Suzie hopped up and ran into the house, more than ready for a snack.
–I hope that you enjoyed this week’s story, the inspiration was a particularly furry but loveable German Shepherd who spends most of her days napping either outside, in front of my coal stove, or in front of the air conditioner.