Poetry

What Its Like To Hit A Dog With Your Car

It had been a debate
Whether or not to drive south toward the smoke
Forrest and I had just gotten off work
We were headed for home, for dinner and rest
When we spotted some smoke billowing up through the trees
It was thick and dark
Oh, ten miles away

I said let’s go and check it out
He said I’m hungry
I said let’s go and check it out again.

I was driving so I won

Forrest fished out some salad leftover in the lunchbox
And started munching on that
Pleased, I turned left at Highway 199 and started heading south toward the fire

We had been driving for just short of five minutes
When a dog the color of deer
Appeared in the dead center of the road
There was a black dog and some other dog over to the right
I missed hitting them
But to my horror — I hit the deer colored dog dead on
I knew it was bad

I pulled over to the right hand shoulder of the highway
A hundred or so feet away
Forrest hadn’t been looking at the road
He asked what just happened?
I murmured back to him rather frantic:
I hit a dog
I put my car keys in my pocket and got out of the car
Shaking, I sprinted toward the dog

The black dog and the other dog promptly left at my presence
I ran to the deer colored dog
There was a large pool of blood coming from its mouth
I stayed to the shoulder as a car passed over the dog
The cars tires didn’t hit
Good

When the traffic cleared I ran to the dog
I was hesitating just a little bit as I noticed the dog was a Rottweiler
I couldn’t tell if it was still alive and I didn’t want to get bit
I looked at the dog and saw that its eyes were open and fixed
Fixed on no place in particular
A dead stare

The traffic was still cleared, but barely
I could see a car was approaching
I had one minute, tops
I patted the dog on the neck
Its teeth were broken
Neck most likely broken too
I patted its belly
I was touching it, seeing if the dog might have some life left
I wanted to move the dog
But if it were alive I wondered how hard that might be

The dog wouldn’t respond
The dog was damn dead
I shoved my arms underneath its torso
I lifted the dog up to which it still didn’t respond
God was it warm
And heavy
I carried the dog over to the shoulder
Because of the weight I sort of flung the dog, couldn’t help it

Wails shook from the inside of me
I’m always surprised when I cry like that
It only happens during a bad breakup
Or when I think of my mother leaving me long ago
And now, when I kill a dog

I scanned the roadside for the dogs owner
Just sure I was going to see some distraught person
But nobody was there

Within minutes, two different cars stopped
I was wailing, crying
Forrest was looking from dog to me and back to the dog
One car that stopped was a thin woman with big tears in her eyes
She stood looking down at me and the dog
She was dragging on a cigarette
She had the most sympathetic look in her eyes
She was consoling me
Telling me
I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry for your loss
Not…my….dog, I choked out, correcting her, I…hit…the dog…

Out the other car came another concerned woman
She told me that her and her husband wanted to take the dog in their SUV
Bury it out in the forest or something
I thought about this for a moment
I looked back to her vehicle and saw a concerned looking teenage boy hanging out a window in the backseat
They had an out-of-state license, California
— This wasn’t their business
I thought it better to call 911 (I didn’t know which agency actually took care of this sort of thing)
Forrest called for us
And the concerned women went on their way,
Though not before standing around looking sad for another five minutes or so
Amazingly, I was still wailing

The dog got less and less warm
Her spirit was leaving (I had made note that the dog was female)
Forrest and I petted her and petted her
Nobody else came around
It was getting dark
We were waiting for the state trooper — he was coming from Grants Pass

The dog was collarless so I wrapped my own bandana around her neck
A sentiment
She looked so sweet with that bandana

The way I’d layed her down her feet were crossed one over the other in the back
And in the front they were splayed out like she was running
She looked both peaceful and wild
I couldn’t help but think: Where did her spirit just go?
I swear I had been there as it lifted up out of her

The state trooper arrived after an hour or so
Needlesstosay all he did was a little bit of paperwork
I thought (for some reason) he’d be taking the dog in his trunk or something
Instead he told us that the road department would be picking the dog up sometime the next day
Then we left, Forrest and I, on our not-so-merry way

We drove south a few miles to where the fire was
But it the fire was too far off any road to get a good look at it
Sometimes you wonder: what if I’d have just gone home?

2 thoughts on “What Its Like To Hit A Dog With Your Car”

  1. Is it possible that curiosity kills more than just cats? I like the part where you took the responsibility to handle the situation even though someone else offered to take it from you. That’s rare. I hope the vehicle was ok. I always find it very interesting how some people are able to think while things are in a wash. I’m left confused as to who or what to feel sad for. This was art. For I felt.

    1. Haha. Yes curiosity kills dogs too.

      This was an interesting incident; I’m not sure how much I like my story/poem though. In fact at first I titled the story “What It’s Like To Hit A Dog” then I was like, no, that’s not right… I did feel like this was a story worth being told though. And I’m so happy you “got it”.

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