Though I woke up to snow again this morning, it's turned into a glorious, somewhat Spring-like day. I took advantage of the lack of anything landing on my windshield and made a necessary trip into town. It was a rough trip regardless.
About 3/4 of the way down the mountain, I slowed as I saw a beautiful black lab, complete with collar and tag, lying dead by the side of the road. My heart was immediately in my throat. About 15 feet from the dog was a parked truck. A rugged mountainy fellow sat on the bumper, head hanging down, shoulders heaving. I stopped immediately. I walked to him and put my hand on his shoulder I searched for words that could be forced through my own tears. There were none. I simply stood next to him like that for a few minutes.
Finally he wiped his face on his flannel sleeve and managed, "I... it was... shit... he just ran right out... I couldn't... ohgod... I fucking killed someone's dog." My heart completely crumbled to pieces hearing his voice. I can't begin to imagine that anguish. It was difficult enough to see his. I thought of my two best buddies, safe at home behind the fence, probably playing together blissfully unaware of a threatening world. I felt utterly helpless in the face of the guy's despair. I squeezed his shoulder and said something ridiculous like, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I have no words that can comfort something like this. But I'm not going to leave until I know you're as okay as possible." So we sat on his bumper together for a while, not speaking.
He finally wiped at his face again, nodded, gulped hard, and said, "I think I'll be alright now." I offered him an old blanket from my own truck to wrap around the poor creature - he was planning to take it to the address on the tag. We did that and gently lifted the lifeless body into the back of his truck. The man thanked me and we parted with a hug. I never did get his name, nor give him mine.
The whole time my own dogs were on my mind, and the impossible notion that anything like that could ever happen to them. But it could. I try really hard to keep them behind the fence, or keep them leashed, but they're clever Houdini hounds and occasionally they've been able to escape. As fast as they run, even if my eyes are on them, I don't stand a chance of catching them. After today, I will double my vigilance. Count on that.
Please people, please... if you have animals, please be care full with them. While it might seem inhumane to have fences or leashes, it's a necessity. No matter how well behaved or trained your pets are, they are still animals, still prone to wildness and wandering. Please do your best to ensure that they won't get out and wreck someone's day... it'll wreck your day even worse.
Would you let your best friend drive drunk? Let your children play soccer in the middle of the street? Hopefully not. Show your pet the same respect and love. That lab wasn't "just a dog," it was somebody's family... I know it, and my heart is sore for whomever that is.