Here is Dory the morning of the 'incident':
And here are her knees after:
Those are scratched, bloodied knees if I've ever seen them. At the duck pond, in total joy, Dory dashed around the perimeter of the pond, across the uneven pavement, took one misstep and... sprawled out on her knees and hands. A full-out whack! to the pavement.
She cried openly. I cried internally. She's had any number of bumps and bruises since she started walking, but this was easily the worst. There was no catching herself before she fell. There was real blood. There was even the icky sound of a schmack! when she hit the pavement. This was her first in earnest childhood injury.
I held her and she cried and I tried not to. My mother was at hand and she was calming for the both of us, commenting we could take Dory home, give her a bath, those scratches would be gone in a week, tops. After a few minutes, Dory seemed calmed down. We didn't rush back to the car, but lingered a little longer, looked at the ducks in the creek next to the pond, even spotted a mama and her baby ducklings.
It's tricky to see here, but that Mama Duck is in a protective posture. Next to us, on the bank of the creek, a woman had a dog and, seeing the ducks, he hit the end of his leash, barking madly. At first, she and the ducklings took off at full waddle through the shallow water. Unfortunately this took her right past the dog and on recognizing his nearness, she stopped, posed and four baby ducklings hid behind her. I don't know if Mama Duck had a plan, but her feathery body language communicates one clear statement: do not mess with me and my babies. After a little more "ooing" of the ducklings, the dog's owner moved on and Mama Duck and ducklings proceeded down the creek, ruffed only in spirit.
My duckling came to harm, through her own activities, and there was no one to blame. Rocky pavement? Sun in her eyes? Trippy kids' shoes? Maybe, who knows, and that seems a stretch. I still wanted to puff up, make my stance and just dare anyone to mess with my child. And like the dog leaving and the ducks waddling away, the moment passed. Yet just that quick flush of protective instinct reminded me how far more linked we are to our animal nature than we might normally realize. And that whatever enemy, be it leashed dog or old, cracked concrete can bring out the mama bear in all of us.
Or in this case, the mama duck.
And I'm glad to say, more than a week later, Dory has only the faintest signs of knees scrapes.