supposed to die

Sunday night nightmare

Driving to dinner. Hand on my husband's knee.  Smiling. Talking about something.  Talking about nothing.

Past his far shoulder suddenly a dog.

The dog is just outside his window.  Appearing so out of nowhere it's like magic.  Black lab. Running flat out toward us. Pink tongue streaming behind. Black leash streaming behind.

It looks totally happy.  Happy and clueless.

No time to scream.  No time to brake.  No time to react.

A second after we first see it, the dog and car meet just past the driver's side front bumper. A horrible heavy thump that rocks the car, the sound and feel of something caught, the sound and feel of something let go.

And then we are screaming.

We pull over in the gravel, still screaming. It has to be dead. It has to be.  Oh my god.  It seems like we are a long ways away, blocks and blocks, but yesterday I saw it was not even half a block.

I get out.  It's worse than I thought.

Not one dog, but two.

Two dogs lying on their backs, paws in the air.

I've never seen dogs lying like that.  Both in the middle of the other lane.  Cars are already stacking up.  I try to think of what to do.  I remember an awful five-fatality car crash we came upon several years ago before the ambulances showed up.  People had gotten out of their cars and were directing traffic.  Should we do that?  i don't know what to do.

I do not want to see what our car has done to these poor animals.  A young man kneels by one, a young woman by the other.  Screaming, crying, begging.  What will these people think of us?  We killed their dogs.

As I get closer, I can see they are street kids.  The girl with red-gold dreads and pants made of patches.  The guy with red-gold hair and a black Tshirt.  They pick up their dogs, cradling them in their arms, and carry them to the side of the road.

I keep thinking I should know what to do, but I don't.  I don't know anything.

A woman has pulled over and is on the phone with 9-1-1.  A yellow carpet cleaning van is parked behind her. Another woman who lives across the street runs over.

The guy is begging. "Aldo! Aldo!" The black lab is moving a little.  He puts his hand near its mouth, and the dog nips at his fingers. And then it stops being alive.

The little dog is still alive and whining.

The two women are both yelling at the guy sitting in his van, watching everything and grinning.  "What are you smiling about! You hit these two poor dogs! Get over here, you coward!"

Then I say "We hit the dogs."  I say it quietly.  I feel so guilty.  How did we hit two dogs?

I try to look up Dove Lewis, the emergency animal shelter, on my phone.  I keep typing the wrong letters, and the harder I try the worse I get.  I tell the lady on the phone with 9-1-1 what I'm doing, because I'm pretty sure no one comes when you hit a dog.

The lady at Dove Lewis says to bring the dogs in. I tell my husband to get the Subaru.

These two kids are still just wailing and wailing.  Stumbling from one dog to the other, shaking, weeping so hard snot runs down their faces.

The guy lifts the lab into the back - even though we all know it must be dead - and then climbs in beside it.  The girl sits in the back with the little dog and I pick up their two huge packs (they were setting down their packs when they lost control of the dogs) and bag of groceries and somehow manage to shove them all in the car.

And then we drive.  Too fast.  I keep telling my husband to be careful, that the guy is just loose back there.

Otherwise, the car is mostly quiet.  The guy is curled over the dog, weeping soundlessly.  The girl is trying to reassure the little black and white dog, named Karate Kid. Neither of these kids are that much older than our daughter.  But somehow they've gone from being someone's precious babies to two kids living on the street with their dogs.

At the vet hospital, a tech in blue scrubs comes out to the parking lot, puts her hand to the lab's neck and shakes her head.  She's a tall girl, broad-shouldered, and she manages to carry his body in by herself.

Three hours later, we are looking at X-rays of the smaller dog.  (It turns out the guy in the yellow van hit him).  The ball on one hip joint has been turned into paste.  Everything has been pushed to one side.

And after they say goodbye to both dogs, both kids stagger back out into the waiting room. Eyes nearly swollen shut with weeping.

And that was our Sunday nightmare.
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It's still really affecting me. It could not be avoided and we did everything we could to help, but couple that with knowing I'll soon be helping a family member through hospice, I just feel so sad.
Oh, how awful! For you and for those kids. And no, it doesn't help that there was nothing you could have done. It's still awful. And you still think there's something you could have, should have done.

Yep. Been there. Done that. Only ours was a cat, and we couldn't find its owners.
I have so much sympathy for anyone who has experienced this. The whole thing is haunting me.
April, this is really sad but really there was nothing you could do. I was on the other side a couple years back when my little dog ran out onto the street and got killed by a car. I didn't blame the other woman driving at all, and I know she was almost as upset as I was. It was really horrible for both of us, but honestly in my heart I know that there was nothing she could have done to stop it from happening. Horrible tragic timing. So sorry this happened...
It was the whole mix of things - how big the dog was, the two dogs, these two homeless kids, spending four hours with them. IT was like being dropped into a nightmare.
I saw you tweet this after it happened and I was hoping the second dog would make it. Hugs--it is so shattering to plunge into this, and you have already had too much death lately.
l lost it today. I was just sobbing. Maybe if it had just been the dog, but the people were living normal okay lives. But the owners were not, not really. They are living in a park.
I'm so sorry you had to go through this, April. You know, you could've been like the bastard in the yellow van. But you weren't. You did a lot to try to help, and I daresay that the kindness and caring you showed those two young kids will have a positive impact on their lives. Maybe that can help comfort your heart.
I am feeling better today. Yesterday was rough.

That guy in the yellow van - I have no idea what was going through his head. Could it have been a nervous grin?
It was really hard yesterday for me. Today I feel much better because I actually slept. My husband emailed me and said he was having a hard time, kept reliving it. It's probably one of those things that yo-yos but fades.

I wish the kids had seemed more fixable.
I am so, so sorry April. Accidents are horrible and this was just that--an accident. You did as much as you could.
It was physically, viscerally awful. Lot of cleaning to the car, which was also damaged. And looking at these kids - the girl in particular - and wondering if there was any hope.
I saw this when you posted on FB, and just read this now.I hope you're feeling better. Just a horrible, horrible experience. xox
It helps I've been in several different states since then. The day after I was pretty good, but a mess the second day. Now being out of town it's not as sharp.