The picture above is of our dog, Mikah. Mikah is fine. She’s alive and pretty healthy for a dog who is somewhere around 13 years old. She is a happy, funny, wonderful, crazy, fur ball of a dog. We love her dearly.
Sometimes Mikah is the one creature on the planet who reminds me of what pure goodness means. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t get herself into trouble sometimes–like when she eats plastic toys and other things that dogs shouldn’t eat. Rather, I’m reminded by Mikah and her simple needs of how joyful life can be when your world is essentially all about loving those around you. I never have to question her love for us. I know it to be true. I hope she knows that from us, too.
Last night, I came home and looked at Mikah a bit differently than I typically do. Here’s why.
Last night, my son and I saw something that was heartbreaking. It was one of those things that can be described as simultaneously real and surreal. But, when the reality of it set in (which didn’t take very long) we were both reminded of how very fragile life is and how very hard it is to bear witness to its end.
We were preparing to turn off a busy road onto the street leading to our house. It was about 9:00 p.m. and, so, it was dark. On the right, we both saw a fairly large, black figure in the parking lot of a local business. At first, my son thought it was a bear. We then realized it was a dog. The dog was limping.
I made my turn and stopped the car. I was watching the dog in the mirror of the car and saw him next to the road. I was getting out of the car to see if I could get to the dog, but the dog walked out into the road. And, he was instantly hit by car. The car didn’t stop.
I told James to stay in our car. He asked me if the dog had been hit and I told him yes. I went to the road but the traffic was steady and there was no way for me to get to the dog without possibly getting hit, too. So, I waited. I didn’t know what to do. I started to go back to my car (I’m not sure why, except I remember thinking about James). Then I saw a car stop right next to where the dog was laying in the middle of the road.
A young man jumped out and picked up the dog, which was no small task. He probably weighed a hundred pounds. He put the dog in the back of his car. I said to the man that I saw him get hit but I couldn’t get to him. I said thank you to the man for trying to take care of the dog, but thinking there was nothing he could do.
I watched the car pull away and then turn into the parking lot of the church on the corner, near where I live. I got back to my car and drove James the short distance to our house, explaining I was going to see if I could help the man with the dog. James wanted to know if the dog was dead. I told him I thought he probably was, but didn’t know for sure.
In a minute I was in the parking lot and there was the man with the dog. And, there was another man who had stopped to check on the dog. This man told me he was a vet tech and when I asked what he thought, he said he couldn’t detect a heartbeat or pulse. He was telling the younger man about an emergency animal hospital several miles away.
I asked if the dog had a collar and tags, thinking maybe I could contact the owner if the young man was planning to take him to the animal hospital. He said to me in a soft voice, “he’s mine.” And, then he told us what happened.
There was a storm moving into the area last night and the dog had gotten out of the house, he said. The storm frightened the dog, as storms often do, and the dog ran off. The dog, he said, was an older dog and had bad hips. That explained the limp we had noticed. The young man had been out searching for the dog.
I looked at the man and told him how sorry I was. I wish I could have helped him. I wish I could have kept the dog from going into the road. I wish he had found the dog just a few minutes earlier.
Not wanting to delay the man from taking the dog on to the hospital where they would tell him what I’m sure he already knew (but equally sure that he was hoping was not the truth), I said good-bye and again how sorry I was. I reached into the car to touch the dog. I guess I thought I needed to say good-bye to the dog, too.
And, then we all left.
I don’t know the name of the dog, the young man, or the vet tech. But, I don’t think I will ever forget them. Some things you just don’t forget.
My son and I both shed some tears when I got home. For the rest of the night, we stayed close. There were few words. There was just a closeness that you just know is needed without having to say it.
As I said, I looked at Mikah a bit differently last night when I came home. How could I not? And, I watched my son quietly (which is his way) shed tears over a loss he didn’t have to claim, but did anyway.
I don’t know what to say now. I can’t tie this up neatly with profound words that turn this story into a life lesson or something philosophical or something that makes it better. I’m not even going to try.
Today, I’ll just be thinking about things and feeling things a little differently than I might have. And, that’s okay for today.
I wish you peace…