On a hot July day when I was a tween,
Father and I took the dog for an outing
to Cuivre River State Park. As we strode
in bipedal mode, Puddles raced full throttle
on four paws, ears flapping, his Dalmatian
spots blurred by speed, or barked in rich
baritone and tried to pee on every tree.
As we rested on the parapet of a stone
bridge, Puds, ever inquisitive, bounded
to us, jumped three feet to top the barrier,
somersaulted over the edge, and plummeted
some twenty feet to the sand bar below.
I screamed. Father assumed the worst.
After a seeming eternity, the tumbler
righted himself and staggered up the bank.
Father retrieved the car, and for once,
Puddles didn’t have to be coaxed
into the backseat of our ancient Ford.
That night at bedtime Mother declared
the pup too sore to descend twelve steps
to his bed in the basement. He accepted
the thick, hand-hooked rug she placed
at her bedside, and though he suffered
no permanent damage, Puddles never again
managed those steps at bedtime, and he
soon claimed a place on the foot of the bed.