happy to help
(first appeared on website 4/30/2012… first story in Merciful Flush)
It was one of those heartbreaking sights you see every now and again. I’m driving by and I see this young couple at the side of the road leaning over a dog that had been hit by a car. They were in obvious grief so it was easy to see the dog belonged to them. Because I’m so good in these situations I felt obliged to pull over and do what I could to help them through this difficult moment.
They were a married couple and Toby, the deceased dog, was like a child to them. They explained that they weren’t ready to have kids and that they had poured all of their affection into Toby. I pointed out that it was lucky they had gone the dog route otherwise we might be looking down at the corpse of their 5 year old son Toby instead. I think they took what I said wrong so I tried to explain I only meant that if this was how well they took care of their dog maybe they weren’t ready for a kid. That didn’t seem to help either. In fact, their reaction to my emotional counseling was getting downright snippy. I realized they were grieving so I tried my best not to get insulted.
“At least his head isn’t all smashed in” I offered, trying to ease their suffering. Nothing I said was helping, they were both inconsolable. What was needed was a clear head and a can-do attitude. I suggested that we load Toby into the back of their car so they could take him home and bury him. What I haven’t pointed out yet to you the reader was that Toby was a good-sized dog. To the person who hit Toby it must have seemed more like they ran into the star of the Patterson-Gimlin film than a dog. In retrospect it might have been easier if Toby had been cut in half because getting him in the truck proved to be a real trick. The wife didn’t like it when I lifted Toby by the ears and then she made this little whimper when I tried to swing him back and forth with the goal being that we would both launch Toby into the trunk ‘on 3′. Taking a short break in the Toby-loading activities I thought a story might be in order to soothe these two poor souls.
“You have to let go of the disappointment of losing your dog” I explained. Then I shared an intensely personal story of my own. When I was younger I carried around a lot of anger towards my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents. It had been explained to me that their dietary decisions had been responsible for my teeth not being serrated. This in turn made it a lot harder to chew certain foods as well as made my bite a lot less fearsome. This caused me a lot of distress for a long time and it took me quite awhile to get past it. My eyes brimming with tears, I then turned and looked at the couple to see if they understood certain beyond all doubt that they would.
They didn’t. My story was apparently lost on them in this their hour of despair. It had gone completely over their heads. Looking for something to say to end the awkward silence I pointed to the spot some 40 feet away where I reckoned Toby had been hit and then walked them through his power-slide to his final resting place. It had to have been a truck, I postulated, because a car couldn’t have caused him to be so violently hurled through space and across such a large patch of pavement as the clumps of dog hair and bloody gravel along his route attested. “I can’t believe he didn’t see a big truck like that coming. Maybe he just froze in terror”. My words drifted off into the late afternoon breeze as the couple stared at me, their eyes covered in a donut glaze.
Better change the topic I thought to myself, always sensitive to the feelings of others. Some gentle probing let me know they had neither plans to stuff him or any desire to eat his remains despite my recommendation of a good Korean restaurant not 4 miles down the road. I sensed it was time to get them on their way as I could no longer handle the wracking sobs my every word of sympathy seemed to elicit.
Well, to make a long story not quite as long we finally were able to get ol’ Toby into the trunk and I was able to send this heartsick couple on their way. Before they left I was able to convince them to give me their number in case I was able to find Toby’s collar (or left eyeball for that matter) in the trees I planned to canvass after their departure. I’m big on closure, just ask my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents.