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.