Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Yesterday morning I was headed to a dentist appointment, driving down a busy street near my house. I had only gone a few blocks when I noticed two dogs in a yard up ahead, little ones, running around in circles. Since we adopted our dog, Carson, five years ago, I have become somewhat obsessed with dogs and my attention was instantly drawn to the two furry figures. One dog seemed to be headed for the street so I slowed down a bit in case he ran into traffic. With a parked car blocking the view, the driver of the van ahead of me was not so prepared. The puppy dashed, the van rolled on. I never even saw break lights go on. Dashing puppy was hit and lay motionless in the middle of the road.

In my car my hands flew up to my face and I think I may have even yelled, no, at the moment the dog was hit. I pulled over to the curb with the thought that the other dog might also run out into the street and I absolutely could not bear to see this scene played out twice. Dog #2 did indeed cross the street but made it safely to the other side where he stood barking at me. I tried not run towards him even though the situation felt pretty urgent to me at that point. Even so, the dog ran back towards the house we were in front of while I proceeded to ask the dog pointless questions like why he was running loose outside and where did he live, informing him that he needed to be safe and stay out of the road.

The driver of the van had stopped and gotten out of his car and was standing next to the lifeless dog while he spoke to someone on his cell phone, maybe the police, but really I have no idea who he was calling. Since the second dog was now on the front step of the nearby house, I assumed this was where he lived and tried ringing the doorbell. There was no answer. The dog disappeared around the back of the house, which I figured was a safer place than out on the street so I didn’t pursue him. Instead I turned my attention to the poor dog in the street, wondering what in the world was the right thing to do. His collar had come off and lay next to him. When there was a break in traffic I ran out and picked it up. ‘Sammy Davis’ it read. There was also an address listed on the little bone-shaped tag, the same address as the house I had just rung. I showed the van driver the tag and tried to get him to call the phone number listed on it but he said he was calling animal control. I returned to the house to try banging on the front door. There was still no answer.

I considered getting a blanket out of my car, the one my family and I use for picnics on the rare occasion we remember to go on them. I thought it might be a good way to scoop up the bleeding dog and move him from the middle of the now-congested road but it seemed wrong moving the little guy without the owner there. The garage door of the owner’s home began rolling up just then and when I caught sight of a person I told them their dog had just been hit by a car.

A young girl came running out into the driveway and immediately screamed and started to cry. I told her to go back inside, to go find her mom. The mom was not dressed, the girl informed me. I confess, I was distraught and not feeling terribly patient so I said to her “tell her her dog just got hit by a car! She needs to come out here!” Like it’s not enough that this poor child has just lost her dog, now she’s got a total stranger who is clearly deranged hollering at her. The mom did finally appear and reacted pretty much the same way as the daughter. She wanted to run out to the dog but I told her to go get a towel, which she did. We scooped up the poor broken dog and she carried him to her front yard.

There was a lot of chaos, the van driver wanting to apologize and leave his contact information, me asking this woman if she wanted me to drive her to the nearby veterinarian clinic, the woman’s cleaning ladies arriving at the home and exclaiming “dios mio” over the body of the dog. Somehow it was decided that I would drive her up the vet and the daughter and mom and I all piled into my car, the two of them in tears. The mom, whose name I never did discover, cradled the towel-wrapped dog and asked how the dogs got out and told me how mad she was at her landlord who was supposed to have fixed a faulty entrance.

The attendants at the vet’s office took over when we got there and I sat in the waiting area with the daughter, asking her about her dogs and telling her how cute Sammy was. It didn’t take long for the mom to reappear, I’m sure because there was nothing to be done. The dog’s neck was broken, she said. It hadn’t looked good when I saw the dog collide with the tires of the van. Poor furry little guy, he didn’t stand a chance.

I drove the mom and daughter back to their house, leaving them with my name and phone number and telling them to please call if they needed anything. I have no idea what she might call me for, but it seemed the least I could do to comfort these people who clearly faced so much grief with the loss of their pet.

I have mentioned before my daughter’s obsession with death and dying and how we both have agonized over it, she trying to understand the injustice that life has to end and me trying to provide some explanation for a fact that really defies reason and fairness; that’s just the way life works. Things live and things die. Sometimes life ends naturally, sometimes life ends in a sad, violent manner. I kill bugs all the time. I see dead squirrels, dead birds, dead raccoons on the roads all the time. It would still make me a little sad to see a squirrel get hit by a car, just because that’s how my mind works (the squirrel might feel pain or feel sad, or a squirrel mommy will miss her baby or vice versa). But the loss of the dog seems so much more painful because of the love his owners feel for him. I don’t feel love for the squirrels, but I adore my dog. It is almost as if the emotions I feel for my dog would be wounded just as much as he would be by death.

That’s part of what was so upsetting, witnessing the dog transform from a lively fur ball into a dead animal in an instant. His doggie life ended right before my eyes. The love of a small girl for the soft little pet that slept on her bed at night was equally crushed. I know I am making a lot of this, that in some countries they actually eat their dogs and they would not comprehend such devastation over this death. But I still feel like something has to happen to the fabric of the universe when we lose something we love. Maybe it’s just the fabric of one’s heart that is affected and emotions can sometimes carry so much weight as to make us feel like it’s actually the whole universe that shifts. After all, death must be constantly happening in small and large ways all over the world, every minute of every day. Can the universe bear so much violence? But life is constantly being born or reborn, as well. That’s just how it works.

In the end, all I take from this incident is a reinforced and desperate need to protect what I love. My dog is precious they way he curls up with his nose tucked under one paw and it will be terrible when he dies. But I am also busy protecting my daughter, not from death but simply from the endless sadness that exists in the world. It keeps me busy, as well it should. Grief is just part of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear. I hope that someone is protecting you from sadness because there is so much of it. And for all my dog-loving friends, I hope you are protecting your puppies tonight. Maybe you want to give them a little bit of extra love. Rest in peace, Sammy.

No comments:

Post a Comment