Friday, September 18, 2009

Death of a Dog

While I currently don't have a dog (it has nothing to do with my two cats!) I enjoy Man's best friend and am quite fond of many dogs and breeds. My current lifestyle of being on the road/trail for crazy amounts of time each year is just too difficult for me to care for a dog-it is hard enough with a wife and two cats! I have written a guidebook to hiking with your dog and I am a regular contributor to CityDog magazine. You can conclude that I like dogs. So, what happened to me on my most recent trip to Mount Rainier National Park has left me deeply saddened, upset and a bit angry too. In my 31 years of driving, never have I had to experience what I did on the night of September 15th. I hit and killed a dog while driving to the park.

I was traveling from Mowich Lake to Longmire via the rural and scenic Oroville Road through the Ohop Valley. It was 7:30-dusk when I passed a row of homes along Ohop Lake. As I rounded a bend, there right in the road was a small dog. I immediately downshifted. It didn't get out of the way. I couldn't swerve right for there was no shoulder-and if I swerved left where I thought the dog would go-I would have crossed the centerline on this very narrow road and endangered myself. As I slowed-I felt the impact. I immediately pulled over. It was awful, the little terrier mix was convulsing. I ran over to him-no blood or external visible injury. She managed to move herself to the side of the road. I ran to a nearby house. An elderly woman immediately opened the door without even worrying about this stranger pounding at her door. "I just hit a dog!" I frantically said. She knew instantly whose dog it was and ran over to get the owner. I ran back to the dog where another traveler was now pulled over by its side. He held it and mentioned that her heart beat was rapid and irregular. The poor little dog was gasping. I stood there apologizing to it-stroked her head-and felt so sorry. The owner came over-shook my hand for stopping and said "its not you fault." He then said, "I know I should not let her walk around like that-I just can't pen my dogs up." If you did I thought, she would still be alive.

I wondered why that little terrier didn't react faster and get out of my way. Turns out she only had three legs. The owner had just paid over $1,200 for her surgery and said she was doing fine. Why then did he allow her to sniff around in the road-on a fairly busy road-why? I felt nauseous as I watched the little thing slowly shut down. The owner returned with a blanket and took her away. I was hoping he would head to an emergency vet clinic but deep down I knew the dog was dead. The whole incident hung with me that evening while I was camping and throughout my hike the next day. On my way home I returned to the gracious neighbor who had answered my door knocking. She told me that her neighbor-the dog owner was taking the incident well. He buried the little thing last night. She told me that she couldn't understand why he would let his dog run free like that in the area. While she told me this her Australian Shepard begged me to play. This woman kept her high strung Aussie from roaming the roads-why couldn't her neighbor be more vigilant about protecting his three-legged terrier? She recounted about 9 dogs in the area that had been hit by cars.

I walked away saddened and upset that such a needless death occurred. I went over through my head that there was nothing that I could have done differently to stop it from happening. I felt responsible even though I knew I wasn't. I'm still saddened thinking about that poor little three-legged dog. I just can't understand how its owner could have ever allowed this to happen. I know I wouldn't have-but it was me who ultimately claimed its life. Poor thing. Being hit by a car is no way to go-and allowing this to happen is not being a responsible pet owner. Poor little dog....

1 comment:

Crzydazy said...

That is so sad. Both for you and the dog. Just know that you have a GOOD heart and did the responsible thing. Not everyone does.