I love animals.
I’ve seen dead ones before, some of them pretty mushed and mangled. I’ve put a few pets to sleep when their health finally failed. And before anyone calls me a hypocrite, I admit I eat meat.
But until last Friday, March 12, 2010, I’d never actually seen a dog run over. It only took a second, I never saw the dog before in my life and there was absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent it. But I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.
It was my last day at work and we were on our way back to work, me riding shotgun along 15th Street, heading west. Fifteenth is a major thoroughfare for Tulsa, busy but not in the way that a major thoroughfare in Los Angeles or Dallas would be. You could likely cross between the lights without a problem almost any time of day.
I saw the dog just as we came out from under an overpass. Can’t tell you what breed it was, but it was built kind of like a Jack Russel, only bigger.
To my mind, the absolute perfect expression of joy is a dog running at top speed, and this one was heading west on the sidewalk lickety-split, chasing a rabbit.
The rabbit cut a sharp right, out into the street. A large silver moving truck was heading east. The dog, doing just what dogs do, followed the rabbit. The driver never slowed down.
The rabbit was in the lead, and had the sense to cut back toward the sidewalk. But my eyes were glued to the dog. There was no doubt what was going to happen. He was right in the middle of the truck’s span when he realized he was in trouble. If he’d have cut right, or even stopped, the truck would have passed over him and all would have been well. That is what I wished would happen as we drew closer in a long slow truck-in on the action
But the look on that dog’s face told me otherwise. He was focused on that big tire bearing down on him. Fear is a common, primal emotion, and I’m not going to argue with you about animal consciousness here. I don’t know if animals feel the way we do, or whether we just project our own emotions onto them. But if I ever find myself in that dog’s position, I can assure you I will have that same look on my face.
He tried to outrun it, moving at an angle. He wanted to get on the far side of it. He ran harder. Suddenly, like a silly effect in a cartoon, he was sucked under the wheel, a brown and white balloon shape being vacuumed into a black hole. We were right alongside when it happened. Mercifully, at that moment, the angle between our car and the truck obscured the final moment.
But I heard the crunch.
The driver never slowed down. Neither did we.
Oddly, the reason I had given notice at the company I was working for was that I had no time to work on my own stuff, like this comic and some other projects I have. My entire career has been executing other people’s ideas at the expense of my own. I’ll be 57 in a few weeks, and I realized if I let things go now, it was quite likely I would never do the things I supposedly wanted to do the most.
After giving notice, I of course had a few second thoughts. I had another job waiting, so it wasn’t money I was worried about. But the likelihood that LIM is going to be more than a webcomic is pretty small. Is that enough to turn your back on a career? The people I worked with were great and the company is poised for major growth. Was I missing out on something? Would I be better off doing what I had always done?
That dog had only one thing one its mind : chase that rabbit. It was doing what it most wanted to do and enjoying every minute of it. I’m sure he would have preferred a different outcome, but you can’t outrun the big tire forever.
And that settled any questions in my mind. We all have a big freaking tire bearing down on us. It behooves us to run as hard and fast as we can, to postpone the big crunch, but we can’t outrun it forever. When it comes my time to go down, I’m going down like that dog.