Tribute to a Dog I Didn’t Know

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.

^ 7 Comments...

  1. Boris

    I hear ya, mister. And I have little to offer but my ears.

    Regarding the dog: you’ll probably never really get that out of your head. It’s one of the few moments that won’t fade. The images are far too visceral for them to fade. You’ve seen death in action. That’s rough to take in.

    Concerning your private pursuit versus your paycheck, you probably won’t solve that one either. Your favorite labour happens to be in an area that isn’t likely to make money, indeed. It’s a labour of love. So welcome to the army of people who work to pay the bills and live for their passion.

    I’m a writer of songs for theatre, I have a band. We work hard. But it isn’t likely to generate my income. I work daytime to pay the bills. It is a life.

    I’m looking forward to April 6.

  2. Boris

    April 2, even :)

  3. Eric

    That moment made a huge impression on me as well, Larry. I kept kicking myself afterwards that I didn’t immediately pull into a parking lot and go check on the dog- though I’m sure it would’ve been hopeless. Really, the best way I can justify the moment in my mind is that had the dog not been hit, the rabbit likely would’ve met a similar gruesome ending :/ It was a real joy/dream working with you, and I know that doing what is necessary to complete LIM is the right choice for sure.
    Also- I think the dog may have been a pit bull. Thats what my mind’s eye recalls anyways.

  4. lovecraf

    You’re right, Eric, there was nothing we could have done. That dog was dead. At first I was really angry at the driver of the truck, then, as I thought about it, realized he might not have been able to see the dog, and he (or she) might feel as bad as we do it about it, maybe worse. It was an accident, not a wilfull act of destrcution. That’s just the fragility of life, and we forget that at our peril.

    You know I loved working with you, too, and don’t think it is the last time. As I’ve said many times, you’re half my age and twice the mentor of anyone I’ve ever known.

  5. Passerby

    A fitting tribute. If only other humans had an ounce of your goodness, and the courage to admit it.
    Respect.

  6. Ali S.

    Your very last paragraph really resonates with me. I’m 25 and struggling with my University life, family, and just everything around me. Sometimes it takes just the little things that happen around us to affect us so broadly. I for one remember seeing a cat in a similar situation and it stuck in my head for so long until I came to terms that the cat was just at the wrong place at the wrong time…and sometimes we are as well.

  7. Ken

    You get a finite number of days – are you going to spend them doing what you hate, or doing what you love?