On my favorite radio show, the week always ends with “What’s Your Beef Friday.” I never call in to share, but today I have one: the fact someone else’s irresponsibility made me a murderer today.
One of the hazards that I encounter almost daily is the fact that there are stupid people who live along the highway between my home and my job who do not keep their dogs safely barricaded inside of a yard. As my own two dogs have proven to be escape artists from time to time, I am sympathetic to the fact that sometimes dogs get out. But I think that as a pet owner, it is my job to fortify my yard fence by whatever means necessary to prevent habitual wandering of dogs, especially given our proximity to the highway. There is one bend in the road where four or five dogs are always lazing around in the grass mere feet from the edge of the paved road. These dogs (as well as many others who live along the way) usually stay out of the road, but they do not always, and I have had more close encounters than I am comfortable with.
So this morning, I took a different highway route so that I could drive by Starbucks on the way to work. I do not drive this road often, but a rural highway is a rural highway, and the dangers are the same, as I was to find out. Since it was a workday/conference day rather than a regular teaching day, I was not in a hurry to arrive early, so I was driving attentively down the road at a moderate 65 miles per hour. All of the sudden, somehow, there were several dogs trotting across the street. I slammed on the brakes, but I hit one anyway.
This was the first time I have ever run over any kind of a living creature, to my knowledge, and I didn’t know what the etiquette is for one who has just, in all likelihood, killed an animal. I was slightly worried that either the dog that I had hit would still be alive but would now be viciously defensive, or that the other dogs in the pack would attack me in defense of their fallen comrade. Plus, it was seven in the morning, and I was not about to go knocking on people’s doors, possibly waking them up, to inform them that I might have killed their dog.
I called Stephen and he said that as long as my car seemed to be running smoothly, I should keep going, so I did. But I deliberately took another route home, and I worried all day as I drove around that I had some sort of incriminating evidence of my hit-and-run on the front of my car and that I would be arrested for animal cruelty.
So, if you are reading this and it was your dog, I am deeply sorry, and I feel really bad. If this story was not about your dog, but it could have been, let this be a lesson to you! Please don’t make me a repeat offender.