I was terrified to look over the edge…

Bella has never been the dog we worried about. It was always Captain Jack, the great escapist who’d have made Houdini proud. That changed last week.

Bella sleeps in our room. As Barb has been away dealing with a family emergency, it’s just been Bella and me. She despises the air conditioning unit. She won’t sleep up on the bed if it’s on because of the noise and the “wind.” I brought in one of her beds and she had been sleeping there. However the other night, she was annoying. She walked around the room, bumped into things in the dark (her eyesight has deteriorated as she has aged), and basically being a nuisance to my ability to sleep.

I’d finally had enough and opened the door, giving her full access to the house. Her other bed was in the family room, and I opened her doggie door to the back deck in case she needed a bio break. In a fed up tone, I told her she could sleep wherever she wanted. I went back to bed. It was 11 pm.

I woke up at my normal 6:03 am. Rolling out of bed, I noticed Bella was not in the room, which was unsurprising. I walked into the family room expecting to see her curled up in her bed, but she wasn’t there. I glanced at the sofa to see if she was on a blanket. No Bella.

I figured she must be out on the deck, so I peaked out. To my surprise, and now growing concern, she wasn’t there. Swiftly, I went back to the bedroom calling her name. I patted down the sheets and blanket on the bed that I was just in. I inspected the bed again. I searched under the vanity and bed.

Becoming more alarmed, I shouted louder for her. Again, I searched the family room. I walked out on to the deck. I was terrified to look over the edge.

There are no stairs on the deck. There are slats where she and Jack always protruded their heads from, but never gave the impression they could actually squeeze through. My dread was that she fell through the slats and I would discover her on the ground either severely injured or dead.

Looking over the edge, there was nothing. As I looked out over the greenbelt behind my house, concern had moved to fear.

I rushed back into the house and my only next option was to go out the front door to look for her. As I reached the door to unlock it, I peered out the side window and to my utter amazement saw Bella trotting on the sidewalk in front of our house! I flung open the door and called out to her. She didn’t hear me the first time, but definitely did the second. Unlike Captain Jack – who thought me chasing him was a game – Bella obediently stood there until I swooped her up into my arms. Her feet were wet, and I couldn’t feel any damage to her limbs, ribs, or body.

We went back inside and she proceeded to eat and return to her normal daily routine, while I tried desperately to slow down my heart rate!

Unless Bella suddenly discovered how to open the door and then lock it behind her, the only option was that she fell through the deck slats and dropped about 15 feet to the ground. My guess is that it must have still been dark out and she couldn’t see the edge, as this has never been an issue in the daylight in the past 12 years. I truly have no idea how long she was outside of the house.

The fact that she fell in a spot that didn’t have something dangerous to land on; that she was unharmed; that she didn’t cross a coyote (we know they are behind us); and that she was in front of our yard at the exact moment I was looking out is both remarkable and lucky.

To say this was a “close call” is an understatement.

I’ve made the proper temporary barricade to stop her ability to get past the slats. Those will soon be changed to a closer width as we have grandchildren to worry about in addition to the dog!

We experience “close calls” daily in our businesses and in life. I fear that too often, we (including me) disregard the event. We chalk it up to happenstance and move on. What we really need to do is examine “why” the event happened so as to avert the calamity we just escaped.

In my experience as a risk management expert, I’ve seen too many cases of near misses be neglected. The consequences of doing this range from inconvenient to tragic.

I’ve fixed the new “Bella” issue. She won’t be falling though the deck again. The next time you are faced with a “close call” in your business and life, invest the time to identify the root cause and fix the issue before it becomes calamitous. 

Keep chasing unleashed.

Quote of the Week:

“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.”

~ Carl Sagan

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