It hasn't even been a week since we've moved into our new flat, but I have taken full advantage of the cycling path that is right across the street. All three dogs quite enjoy walking along it and I find it a relaxing way to exercise Hermione without having to worry about pausing at curbs or cars running us over. Not to mention, my part time guide runner and I have gone out on three runs, starting on that particular branch of the path. It's so nice to run outside sometimes as opposed to doing all of my workouts on the treadmill at the gym.
I do have to be aware of cyclists though of course, but most will ring their bells upon approaching us and I can move out of the way. There are always other walkers, runners and dogs, both on and off leash. These distractions aren't nearly as bad as vehicular traffic though and I quite enjoy the mornings, walking down the path.
Apparently, though, cyclists are not the only danger that I may face when out for a walk, which I learned the hard way. Who would have thought plants could pose a threat on your morning stroll?
Yesterday morning I took Hermione and Roscoe out to do their business after eating their breakfasts. Glacier had gone to Tenie and Carmen's flat for a sleep over, a way to try to help him transition from his working role to pet role. So, I brought Roscoe down to the path with me. I did put his harness on him just as a visual cue to others that I am blind, but just walked myself as it's a straight line and usually quite easy to navigate.
Both dogs were really well behaved for the most part and quickly relieved themselves. It was a nice sunny morning, which are rare here, and so I let Hermione sniff around a bit, just enjoying the peace and quiet. Just as I was getting ready to head back up the path and home, two little barking dogs started heading towards us. Roscoe became very excited and a bit anxious as he has been attacked before and barking dogs now make him a bit vocal.
I had him sit, knowing his history and that he had a tendency to bolt towards the dogs because he wanted to play. He sat, but suddenly bolted and nearly snatched the leash out of my hand. Hermione was a bit frantic since Roscoe was acting like a crazy dog and started hopping around on the end of her leash. I reeled her back in, not entirely sure where the other dogs were or if they were even on leash. Just at that instant, Roscoe bolted again, running Hermione over and sending her into a frenzy. She yelped and went tearing off into the bushes next to the path, probably seeking cover and safety. What neither of us knew was that she had hopped straight into a nettle infested area.. When she landed, she began yelping louder, probably because the nettles stung her, and I panicked thinking that the other dogs were free and were attacking her. all of this happened so quickly that I made the split second decision to let Roscoe go and plunged my arms in up to the shoulders to get Hermione out of whatever predicament she was in. I also thought if the dogs were free and in attack mode, Roscoe had a better chance of running away or defending himself if not attached to me. Plus, he had been yanking so hard on the leash that I was barely hanging on.
Don't poke the mama bear, I suppose.
With the adrenalin pumping through my veins I hardly noticed anything was amiss and I pulled Hermione out, who instantly stopped her racket. I then realised that she was not under attack and that I was minus Roscoe. Thankfully, the owners of the little yappy dogs had snagged him and were in the process of bringing him back. I am also thankful that they weren't angry and thought that Roscoe had just been excited, which he had been, but I was not impressed that he had managed to escape me.
By the time they returned Roscoe, I think the adrenalin had subsided slightly because it was then that my hands and wrists started burning. I don't mean, "ouch, that kind of hurts" burning. It was most like, "what the crap just happened. Were there fire ants in there?!" kind of burning.
I quickly became concerned that I had thrust my hands and arms into something poisonous. Not only was I concerned for me, but for Hermione too.
When the two women and their now quiet dogs reached Hermione and I, I told them that i was stinging and asked what I had grabbed Hermione out of. They told me it was nettles and I was confused and relieved all at once.
I knew nettles couldn't kill me, but at that moment I felt like my hands needed to be chopped off. I got Roscoe back from the women, thanked them for their understanding and hurried home to wash my now throbbing digits.
Mr. K was up and about when I got back and swiftly checked Hermione over for any nettles that might still be on her. He found a couple and plucked them free then helped me strip my sweatshirt off, whereupon, I submerged my hands in cold water for a long while.
I have no idea if I did the right thing. I've never encountered nettles before and let me tell you, I never want to encounter them again. My hands continued to burn and tingle, as though they were asleep, for the rest of the day and only this morning did the uncomfortable tingling turn into itching.
For most of the day yesterday, anything touching my hands or wrists was painful; clothing, water, condensation from a glass. Holding on to the dogs' leashes was uncomfortable. I am just glad I was wearing something with sleeves because if I hadn't my discomfort would not have been just on my hands and wrists. There are spots that still itch a bit, but I'll take the itching over the horrible tingling.
So, what did I learn from my little nettle experience?
Don't touch nettles.
Other than that, I'm not sure I would have done anything different if something like that were to happen again. Mr. K said next time to pull Hermione out of the bushes by her leash, but I'm sure if I have to fetch her from the forest again, I'll probably do it the same way I did it last time. No point in inuring her even further.
As for walking on the path with Roscoe: I'll probably make him wear his halty so he can't go galloping off after whatever dog he chooses. That is if I decide to bring him again.
I think Hermione learned her lesson well. This morning when we went on our after breakfast walk, she stayed clear of any bushes that contained nettles. No scavenging in the under brush for her.
She trotted along beside me, happy to stick to the paved path.
So, take it from me, don't go sticking your hands into a nettle bush because they attack back.