Thursday, November 13, 2008

Warning - Graphic

Last night on the way home, I hit a dog. In 31 years of driving I've never hit anything except one bird (and about a jillion bugs) - not even a rabbit. And I'm sorry but I need to work through this. No pictures but if you can't handle the words please exit now.

We live on a 55-mile-an-hour road and there was no one in either direction as far as I could see. It happened so fast... she shot out of the bushes on my right and it was:

See the dog.

Move my foot.

Hit the dog.

Hit the brakes.

It happened faster than I can type this. Heck I'd bet money it happened faster than you could read it. A couple of seconds in either direction for either of us and I'd have missed her. But I didn't. Heard that thump and already slamming on the brakes and pulling over, I stopped. No lights coming in either direction so I knew I could take a few seconds to muster up my courage for what comes next. There is no way I can drive away, I HAVE to go back and make sure it's not suffering. Deep breath, check again still no traffic and flip a U-turn, the headlights light the dog and it is upside down, twisted like a pretzel with legs in the air, moving like it is still trying to run but in slow motion. Oh God no, I can't handle this... but I pull past it and flip another U-turn and pull off the road right behind it, grab my phone and get out of the Jeep. The dog somehow got itself laid on its side... did it think I was going to run over it again? I'm afraid to touch it and get bit so I am talking to it and fumbling with my phone, trying to dial Randy, I know he can talk me through this, but I keep messing up dialing, pushing the wrong buttons, I am crying and my hand is shaking. Two cars pull over, one in front of the dog and one stopping in the road next to where I have pulled over the Jeep, and amazingly I know both of the women, neighbors, the moral support is so welcome. One wants to move the dog off the road but the other and I say no, it is obviously hurt badly and we don't want to cause it any more pain. No reaction when she tried to touch it so I crouch at its head and lay my hand on its head, I just keep saying I'm so sorry and the dog, we can see it's a female, lays calmly and looks at me from a blue eye. There is blood oozing from her nostrils and abrasions on the other side of her head and face, her other eyelid is torn but I can see a yellow eye there. She has lost control of her bowels and it's obvious it won't be long. A few people drive by and slow down but the second neighbor waves them off and they go on. My legs are cramping terribly so I change to a kneeling position, when I take my hand off her head she struggles so I touch her again and she is calm. I just keep my hand on her head and keep talking to her, I'm so sorry sweetiepie, please go fast...

And she is gone.

I drive home in tears, first thing in the house is go sit on the kitchen floor and there are 7 puppies in my lap, they seem to know I need them. One daughter sits next to me and puts her arms around me. The other, still angry at me over other issues, merely asks what kind of dog it was and when I say it doesn't matter, it's dead now, she walks away. Randy fills the empty water dish and several of the dogs leave to drink, but a couple stay with me. I get a grip on myself and get up.

Randy holds me, says "are you ok?" I tell him I have never hit anything but a bird, and I really don't know how to deal with this. "It's not your fault" he says, and intellectually I know that. She literally ran out RIGHT in front of me. There was nothing I could do.

I need to go to bed but I know I won't sleep. It's like someone keeps hitting instant reply in my head. See the dog move my foot hit the dog hit the brakes. The headlights moving over the oddly shaped creature in the road as I turn around. See the dog move my foot hit the dog hit the brakes. My hand on her head, her blue eye looking at me as the blood drips from her nose. See the dog move my foot hit the dog hit the brakes. Darci is cuddled next to me and I have one hand on her, and the other held in Randy's. See the dog move my foot hit the dog hit the brakes. Oh dear God how many times will I hear that thump?

I must have slept because I woke up this morning with my head swimming from a bunch of weird dreams about all kinds of different dogs doing different things. I can't really remember the dreams, I just know there were lots of dogs. I did not dream of the dead dog but as soon as I wake up the instant replay starts again. I must have made a sound because Randy reached for my hand again.

The animals need to be fed so I get up and get moving. Periodically my eyes fill with tears. I love them all so much. Why didn't that dog have someone who loved her enough to keep her safe?

I really hope there is not a family out there wondering what happened to their pet. But in realistically, based on where we live, in all likelihood the poor thing was dumped. Maybe she ran out because she thought I was her family coming back for her after all? Maybe she was running from one of the packs of coyotes that roam the area? A quick end on the road might be better for her than a slow starvation out in the desert or making some coyote a meal, but somehow that's not very comforting to me since I am the one that hit her. Really, though, the person that killed her is the person that dumped her out there to fend for herself. We see it all the time out here and if you found me through Mikey's blog you have already heard the stories of the dogs she and Wade have rescued... Randy and I have talked all this through, last night and again this morning. He is a great comfort to me. I know in my head it was not my fault. But my heart aches. And I am still having a really hard time dealing with this.

So if you made it this far... thanks for listening.


ranchette said...

I'm just an occassional reader here from the Power Guides, but felt I couldn't just read and not comment.

Really sorry about the dog and know how things can keep playing over and over in your head for a while. I'm also one of those people who don't even like to hit a bird on the road. Give it a little time, I know from reading your post that you did the best you could.

Mikey said...

Oh damn, I'm so sorry. It does happen, but it doesn't make it any less shitty and the replay is torture. At least she went pretty quick and you were there for her. Most people don't even stop.

Last night I was just talking to Wade about how I ran over Little Dog, and holding him while he died, was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I know how you feel, really I do. Your story made me cry, remembering.

Hugs to you. It'll get better. Promise.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

The replays are the worst.

I'm so very sorry that the dog had to die that way and that you were driving the car that caused it. But mostly I'm just so sorry that you have to now go through such turmoil, sadness, and such conflicting mixed feelings from such a horrific experience.

You already know in your heart that the dog doesn't hold it against you, and that your calm, caring roadside concern carried her spirit into the beyond.

It's always a tough thing for an animal lover, though.

Hugs to you,
~New Mexico

Mrs Mom said...

I read this and was in tears. My heart broke for you, and for the dog, and for the fact that she chose your truck to jump in front of.

Then I thought for a moment.

Yeah, I was still crying... and am fighting tears now as I write this.

But look at it this way.

She chose you, in some way, for some reason. Maybe she chose you, so that she could find out, for sure, one last time, if there WERE good people out there. She chose the right one, if that is the case, and had someone with her when she needed you.

I know- it still sucks out loud. It does not make anything any easier. But maybe after some time passes, it will ease things some.

Debby said...

Susan, let me tell you one thing. DO NOT BELIEVE THE REPLAYS. Replays will mess with your mind. They will always give you more time to react than you actually had. Once, when I was in my 20s, I saw a child run out in front of a school bus. He was killed. It was horrible. Even though I had not been the one to hit him, I couldn't stop replaying, over and over and over and over. In my mind, I always had more time to react, to warn the school bus driver, to do SOMETHING. I finally came to grips with the fact that really, really, it happened so quickly that there was nothing at all any of us could have done differently. A dog ran in front of your Jeep. You hit it. I know that you are a person of huge compassion. If there were anything that you could have done to avoid it, you would have, instinctively. It is your nature. Much love, and a big comforting hug from afar.