Before I go any further, let us be clear about two things:
1. Didge does not like traveling mariache bands.
2. Didge cannot walk on hedges.
I will explain more shortly.
Yesterday, I had the odd experience of running into someone I know from back in the US. One of the French faculty members from U of M, Kathryn Ibbett, happened to be at the same tiny restaurant in the 15th as us last night. Talk about surprising! We took a few minutes to visit, and it sounds like she is doing well and enjoyed her sabbatical immensely. (Who wouldn't?)
OK, on to today. Colin and my parents took off for Versailles early this morning to beat the crowds into the chateau. Since I have already seen it, and didn't particularly want to deal with crowds again, I decided to meet up with them at lunch so that I could see the gardens again, and enjoy the fountain show. (The fountains only run on weekends.)
Bear in mind that, up until today, Didge has spent a lot of time by himself in the apartment. So, when push came to shove, I just didn't have the heart to leave him behind again. (Never mind that it had been raining earlier and was likely to do so again.) Anyway, once I had lunch all packed up, I got Didge on his leash and headed out to the train.
Mishap number one: I almost didn't make it out of my neighborhood. One of the transit officials yelled at me for not having a muzzle on Didge. (Apparently, you're supposed to muzzle larger dogs on the metro, but in Didge's case, that would actually make him unbearable.) Anyway, he let me go on, so no harm, no foul.
Mishap number two: Unlike the metro, the RER trains are very tall. So tall, in fact, that Didge couldn't get on by himself. So, I had to sling the food in ahead of me and pick his overweight ass up. We barely made it in before the doors closed, and it was NOT a graceful sight.
Mishap number three: As anyone who has been to Paris can probably attest, there are many musicians who make their living by playing in the stations and often riding the trains. To everyone's great misfortune, the RER car I happened to be on with Didge was "blessed" with a traveling mariache band. Now, anyone who has owned a dog can tell you that dogs do NOT like musical instruments being played in their presence. When I saw them get on, I just had one thought: "Dear sweet Lord...." Within about 5 seconds of the start of the lively little song, Didge was barking his head off. Fortunately, they didn't stay to play another song. (Amazingly, they still expected to get money from me!)
Mishap number four: In between rain squalls and wind gusts that nearly knocked us over, my parents, Colin, Didge and I made our way into the garden to find a place to eat our lunch. At this point, Colin had Didge on a loose leash (he was on one of those 6 feet retractable leashes) and Mr. Doo was taking full advantage of his freedom. True to form, he was basically running around erratically, intoxicated by the smells in the air, the new surroundings, and the freedom that comes from leaving our apartment.
Now, before I explain what actually happened, I will pause to give my dog some credit. The French trim their hedges into perfect shapes, and they probably look pretty solid to a dog. But in fact, as Didge discovered, you cannot walk out on top of one and expect to stay on the top for long. Didge's downfall in this case was a hedge-lined level of concrete path. The path itself sloped downward, but was about 4 feet tall where we were walking. Didge assumed that, if one were tired of walking on the concrete path, one could just continue walking at the same level by stepping on to the hedges that were trimmed to the exact same level.
You know that look that Wile E. Coyote gets when he has just run off the edge of the cliff, but hasn't started falling yet? He knows he's in trouble, but there really isn't much he can do about it? Well, that was Didge once he stepped a bit too far out on the hedge. He tried to double back and jump onto the concrete path again, at which point Colin's surprised downward gaze was met with an equally surprised (if not more panicked) look from Didge. Moments later, I was screaming, "Ohmigodohmigod!" while Didge plunged helplessly into the shrubbery.
Fortunately, the thick hedge broke his fall, and he really didn't have that far to go. (I panicked because I thought he was really falling a LONG way down.) We ran to the edge of the walkway and looked down while Colin ran down the stairs to get to the level that Didge landed on. Suddenly, we hear some rustling around, and pop! Here comes Didge, the happiest dog in the world, out the bottom of the hedge. He only gave one little cry through the whole ordeal, and that's only because his leash was caught in the bushes and he couldn't get it loose.
Anyway, once we determined that Didge was completely unharmed and had already forgotten what happened, we all had a good laugh and went on our way. And, as I type, Captain Adventure himself is passed out on the couch, blissfully unaware of any of his adventures from today. Ah, to be a dog.