Today, I witness one of the worst accidents an animal lover can see: I watched a dog get hit by a car on the highway. Between rescue and nursing, I have seen Death's swift scythe fall more than once, and it never cease to shock and humble me. There is no fanfare, no choir of angels to sing thee to thy rest. One instant there's a running, breathing being, and somewhere between one heartbeat and the next, it's gone. Life is so fierce and so fragile. Death is the ultimate, immutable fact: rain falls from the sky, haters gonna hate, and little black dogs do not win fights against Suburbans.
These past two weeks have been a showcase of bad behaviors (although I'm cautiously optimistic that Rubi's brain has come back from spring break). Tonight's tragedy is the almost the only event that could have distracted me from my planned rant on last night's incident. Sunday night, Rubi was attacked by another dog on our walk. And I can say that honestly - Rubi didn't instigate the fight at all, although she tried damn hard to finish it. She has a nasty scratch and a puncture on her chest, but nothing to run to the vet about. I don't know how the other dog fared because its coward of an "owner" ran away while I was still trying to get B back under control. I suppose that's probably the only smart thing he did. One of my less shining qualities is a deep instinct for reciprocity. I feel that if you are responsible for hurting someone who belongs to me, I should have the right to Hurt. You. Back.
I'm not perfect. I think I've mentioned that before.
The infuriating and frustrating part about both these incidents is they probably could have been prevented. I'm not saying that even the most paranoid of minds doesn't occasionally fall victim to fate or rogue chance. But playing ball with your unleashed dog in your unfenced yard isn't an accident. Playing ball with your unleashed dog in your unfenced yard is why stupidity should be painful.
This time of year in particular it seems hard to deny our dogs the freedom of a good romp. Do it anyway. Leash laws are there for a reason - to keep your dog from getting hit by a car or chewed up by a pit bull. Leashes are cheap, too - hell, just say the word and I will give you one if you promise to use it. Please, for the love of all that is good, leash your dog. And while you're at it, check to make sure the leash and the collar are in good condition and not liable to break at a moment's hard yank. Collars should be properly fitted and not loose enough to fit over the dog's head if he or she pulls backward suddenly. I check my equipment each time I put it on a dog. I also make sure to purchase solid, sturdy collars and leashes. Both can save a lot of grief down the road.
Another often over-looked piece of safety equipment is your fence. Look at something everyday, and it's easy to get complacent about it. So every time I go out in the backyard to play ball with the dogs, I walk the fence. I look for loose boards, new gaps in the line, protruding nails, or anything the dogs could possibly use to get into trouble (they're quite ingenious). I do this about 4-5 times per week. It might be overkill but at least I'm not forgetting to do it.
So check your equipment. Double check your equipment. Take a good, hard look at your fence. And give your sweet, sweet dogs an extra cookie in memory of the little guy who didn't make it home.