An article in The Sunday Age, by John Elder and Maris Beck, recently reported the not-so-surprising fact that many people are injured as they interact with their pets. Apparently, more than 2000 people in Victoria alone end up in evergency departments each year because of injuries caused by animal companions. Given that the population is about five and a half million, that doesn't actually seem a huge number to me.
A paper called The Perils of Pet Ownership, published in 2005, looked at 16 cases where elderly owners received fractured bones while interacting with their pets.
Now, I do realise that breaking a bone is a serious matter and absolutely no laughing matter. But some of the scenarios set the imagination racing: Fell forwards while trying to prevent young puppy from diving into fish tank; fell sideways in garden while trying to stop cat catching a blue tongue lizard; and, most mind-boggling of all - fall while attempting to move quickly out back door as cat carried live snake in through side door.
To a certain extent, these anecdotes, and the others in the report, make me wonder whether it's not safer to have a big pet, so you can see it underfoot, but there's another one: Walking two greyhounds on leashes along street. Dogs pulled and patient slipped and fell against fence.
So it seems like size isn't the only factor.
For many years I taught kindergarten-aged children, and they are also an accident waiting to happen. I can remember stumbling over two little boys reading a book on the mat, throwing myself to one side to avoid landing on them and ending up flat on the floor. I think some of the reported accidents might come about because we know we are so heavy and we just can't afford to land on our beloved - small! - companions.