All God's Creatures Great and Small

The other day I witnessed a tragic, utterly heartbreaking event, one of those occurrences you cannot, try as you might, get out of your mind. In fact, it is with me still as I sit here in front of my computer tapping away on the keys.

After lunch, my husband and I left the house for our afternoon walk. We try to walk at least an hour each day around the neighborhood. It provides us with exercise, fresh air, stress-release, and an opportunity to talk together about this and that, the way married couples do, or at least should.

Anyway, we were not long into our walk, only about halfway down our street, when we saw two children playing in their yard with their dog. It was what some people call a “mutt,” just a little tan and white dog and kind of shaggy; and it was laughing as it enjoyed a game of chase on a sunny day in December. (No one can convince me that dogs don’t laugh. I know they do). The little dog was, in fact, boisterously happy and having a high old time.)

Right at that moment I noticed a white car coming down the street in our direction; and just as I said something to my husband, the little dog, for some unknown reason, darted out into the street. It all happened so fast. In a heartbeat, the little dog’s laughter was silenced. The driver probably didn’t even see the dog. After all, she was talking on her cell phone, caught up in some important conversation that couldn’t wait until she returned home, which, by the way, was but one street over.

She did stop, however, but so abruptly, the car’s right front tire came to rest atop the little dog, pinning it to the street. Although obviously still alive, its dark eyes glazed with pain and confusion, the dog didn’t make a sound.

I was in shock. I yelled, “Oh, my god” and heard myself repeating it over an over. My husband, although surely as stunned as I, yet ran over and told the woman, “Back up. The dog is under the tire.” She got out of the car instead. My husband again said, “Back up. Your car is on top of the dog.” At that point, the woman finally reversed the car. And the little dog that had not uttered a sound when it was hit, not even a yelp, still didn’t cry or scream or even groan. It just started crawling away, desperately trying to get somewhere safe, or so I imagine. Its back legs were both crushed. That was obvious. They were badly mangled, with bones showing. Still, the dog didn’t scream, although the pain had to be unbearable. Using only its front legs, it dragged its poor, broken body onto the carport of the nearest house.

I saw a man come out into the yard where the little children had been playing. I called, “Do you know whose dog this is?” He said, “It’s mine. I thought it was in the backyard.” He came over. The woman got a tarp out of the trunk of her car. The owner used the tarp to wrap the little dog, picked up the dog, and started toward his house. My husband told the owner there was a vet just about a mile away; but the owner just nodded and continued on toward his house.

When we passed the owner’s house, I didn’t see anyone about and his SUV was under the carport, and it was still there when my husband and I returned down the street about 20 minutes later. I wondered if the man had taken the dog to the vet. I still wonder. Or, perhaps, did he simply put it in the yard to die? Leave it there like an unwanted shattered toy? I also wonder if the little dog ever made a sound, although I hate to think of it crying, especially since I cannot forget how happy it had looked just a few moments before that car came down the street and silenced its laughter forever.

In 1928, Henry Beston wrote these words:

We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

If all dogs go to heaven, I believe that little dog is there now; and he is running, playing, and laughing aloud

Journal Comments

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