In advance, if this seems to get to be emotional it's because I'm exhausted and it's been a long day. So, I'm sorry. I'm also typing on the phone, so technologal limits will probably make this story kind of sucky. Also, this post is a bit out of character for me, because while I'll openly talk about virtues such as charity, sacrifice, etc., I personally feel that personal acts are between me and those I'm helping. There's a moral to this one though, from my mother no less, so I figure it's important to tell the story behind it.
I drive a long stretch of highway every day, to get to and from work. There's always trash on the side of the road, everything you can imagine from fast food bags and plastic bottles full of spit to mattresses and pieces of large furniture. More surprising than anything is the number of cars left on the side of the road for days and days until they're inevitably towed away. There's also the ever present roadkill from raccoons and possums to coyotes and deer. Every now and again you'll see house pets, mostly cats but sometimes dogs. Some might be strays or escape artists that meet untimely deaths, but knowing people, some are definitely abandoned.
The first few times I saw a dog on the side of the road, I was shocked and upset. After a while I got used to seeing them and while they saddened me, I became numb to the sights. I feel really shitty typing that out, but it's the truth. If I let every sad thing I see on the road side get to me, I'd go crazy. I think anyone would.
Tonight, driving home from work, I saw something that brought back that sense of shock. I caught something out of the corner of my eye, on the side of the walking against the traffic. I only saw it for a second or two, but there was no mistaking what it was. A puppy, pitch black with medium length fur and large dingo ears. A beautiful, beautiful puppy.
Without even thinking I drove straight ahead, keeping my eyes out for the next exit. I thought for a minute about calling the police to let them know about it, but I knew they wouldn't be able to do anything. So I called my wife. No answer. She's probably asleep. So I called again. And again. Six times I called and six times she didn't answer. My call history is my witness, I tried to inform her in advance.
As I was driving, I was thinking I was crazy. I've picked up stranded people before, sure. But this was a puppy. It might bite me, hell it might have rabies. It might piss or shit all over my car. It might even be ferel. I didn't care. I was driven. I had to help this thing. I couldn't forgive myself if I didnt.
After what seemed forever, I had circled back and at this point, I was driving along the side of the road at about 50 miles and hour, slow enough to keep an eye out for it but fast enough to not be a hazard to other traffic. After what seemed like an hour, I finally saw it, on the side of the road trotting along.
I pass it up and pull to the side of the road behind it, for fear of hitting it if I tried otherwise. I got out and it was about 20 yards away, almost directly under a street lamp. I finally got a good look at the thing. It was probably no more than half a knee high, maybe 15 or 20 pounds. It's coat looked nice and we'll kept and it didn't look skinny, so I doubted it was feral.
I started walking towards it and the thing kept on walking, not even noticing me. The cars were coming at a steady rate and suddenly the dangers of three tons of steel coming at me at 65 mph popped into my head. I. Am. Crazy. I could get killed out here. The puppy could definitely get killed out here. So I call to it, but it doesn't hear me over the sound of the traffic. I start to trot to it, closing the gap between us. Once I think I'm close enough for it to hear me, I call out to it again and again until it finally turns and notices me.
Then it starts running. So I start running, in shoes that aren't made for running, in a body that's not made for running. I suddenly start to hurt, my feet, my knees, my chest. I noticed but didn't care. I had to get my hands on this puppy. Nothing else mattered.
After what seemed like only a few moments, it came to a break in the concrete wall and slipped into the woods. My heart shattered. I made up my mind right then and there that I was going to try again, circle back the highway in hopes it would come back out. When I turned to head back to my car I realized two things. One, I was after this dog for longer than I though because my car was a quarter mile away. Two, I'm a fucking idiot because my cellphone was still in the car and my keys were still in the ignition. At least I remembers to put on my hazard lights.
So, once again in pain, I started running. This time to my car. Just praying to God no one would take it in the span of two minutes it would take me to get to it. Not likely, but I really like that car, so it was a bit of a concern.
Once in it, I started again with heading down to the nearest exit to turn around and find the dog again. No dice. My heart sank. My only relieving thought is knowing that if for nothing else, it's safe from the traffic st the moment.
I thought about a lot on the drive home. I don't remember exactly what about. War. Hunger. Unloved dogs. I cried, not much, just a tear or two, but enough to make me feel embarrassed for myself.
Everyone was in bed by the time I got home, but I just felt awful all over. Sick to my stomach levels of awful. I needed to talk to someone about tonight, to vent. So I did what any grown man would do in my situation. I called my mother. I told her everything. About the puppy. My irrational desire to want to help it. My frustration at failing. Knowing that in the big picture of things, it's just one puppy, but in the moment it felt like everything.
She told me two things. It's easy for us to become numb to the struggles of the world. In the small moments though, it's important to act, because everything that is big and important is made up of those small moments. The good things that we do in those small moments creates the environment we need to build to great things that affect us all. Similarly, there's gonna be heartbreak. There's gonna be the puppy that runs away in fear because it doesn't know any better. Just as finding the strength to help is important, so is finding the strength to deal with the heartbreak so we can continue to try to help again and again. The moment and the desire to help matter just asuch as the puppy itself.
Plus, she said, dogs are pretty smart. It'll probably make it through the night. There's another dog that will always have my love. It's waiting for me at home every day.