Travels with Ringo
The Scary Staircase
by Dallas Doctor
There was a brown dog. And Ringo was his name.
And just before his third birthday, Ringo did something not-very-many-big-dogs ever do. He got on an airplane and flew from Miami, Florida to Paris, France.
That was a big day! Ringo wasn’t sure what to expect, but he knew something important was happening. He most definitely knew everything was changing. Like most dogs, Ringo is sensitive and smart. And he’d been paying attention; he’d already known for weeks that big, big changes were coming.
When Ringo finally landed in France, he was happy to see his friend, Doc waiting for him at the airport. Ringo was happy, thirsty, tired, and a little freaked out.
First, Ringo got some water (but he was careful not to drink too much because he didn’t want to get sick during the taxi-cab ride into Paris). Then Ringo and Doc went for a run in the grass just outside Charles de Gaulle Airport. That was fun! It good to be together again.
Everything smells different in France. Even the air. Ringo noticed it right away.
It’d already been a very long travel day, but there was one more leg of the trip, still left to do. It was the cab ride. But Ringo didn’t mind that last part at all, because he and Doc were together again. Besides, Ringo had been in lots of cabs before; he and Doc used to take cab-rides when they lived in Key West. (In fact, Ringo is an expert at getting in and out of taxis.) But this cab ride was very different. There were lots of new smells and a strange new world just outside the half-way-rolled-down window.
Then it started to rain and that smelled funny too. When the taxi crossed the Seine (that’s a river in France) and entered the 5th arrondissement (that’s a particularly picturesque part of Paris), Ringo’s friend Doc got all excited and said: “Welcome to your new home.”
And that brings us to the point of this story.
Ringo’s new home was a tiny, little loft in the Latin Quarter. It was three-floors up a very narrow, old, wooden spiral staircase that looked like it was built in the 17th century. (Doc says he’ll post a photo below, so you can see it).
Going UP the staircase was no problem — no problem at all. Ringo was good at stairs and he had been on many staircases before. BUT! Going down this particular staircase was a completely different story. Ringo had never encountered anything like it before. It was narrow and dark and steep and scary — very, very scary. Ringo didn’t want to go down the stairs. He was, quite frankly, just-plain-afraid to go down the rickety, old, wooden, spiral staircase.
Ringo whimpered and even cried-a-little because he was convinced he could never bring himself to go down the stairs by himself. He tried though. Ringo carefully put one paw down onto the first step, but then quickly brought it back up and let out a little whine. He looked up at Doc for help.
Ringo was so frightened that, after many more failed attempts, and a lot more whimpering, Doc realized he was going to have to actually carry Ringo down the staircase, which was not easy because Ringo weighed 39 kilos (That’s more than 85 pounds), and Doc was not exactly a youngster anymore. Besides, the staircase was treacherous, which was obviously the entire problem in the first place.
An old man carrying a big, brown dog down a narrow, slippery, spiral staircase is probably not something that will always end well.
But for the first two doggie-walks in France, that’s exactly what they did. Doc gathered the reluctant Ringo up into his arms and slowly, and carefully, and with much difficulty, carried his frightened friend down the stairs.
Clearly, Ringo knew that being carried down was not going to be an acceptable long-term solution; sooner or later, there would be a stumble, followed by a disaster.
Ringo knew he was going to have to face his fear.
So on the morning of the third French doggie-walk (Ringo’s first actual morning in Paris), after a good night’s sleep — it wasn’t easy — in fact, it wasn’t until after a few more whimpers — quite slowly at first — Ringo placed one paw down into the darkness of the staircase. Doc was so proud of him, he encouraged him to do it again. So Ringo did it again. And again. And again, until he reached the second-floor landing. Doc was so proud. At that moment, Doc fell in love with Ringo all over again.
Ringo wondered if he could go on. But he knew he had to if he was ever going to get to the bottom. So he gathered up all his courage and went down again and again and again. And when he finally reached the bottom, Doc and Ringo both celebrated! Ringo was so happy he leaped around in the courtyard for a few joyous moments of wonderful celebration, before he and Doc went out for a nice long doggy-walk in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
Now they do long different doggie-walks every day in strange new parts of the world. It’s wonderful.
And now, whenever Doc gets scared and doesn’t know what’s going to happen, he remembers how bravely Ringo faced his fears.
And Doc tries to learn from Ringo’s example.