This is a bit of a sadder story, so please take discretion before continuing reading.
My husband (the Saint) and I were driving on our early morning commute last week when we noticed a dog wander out onto a busy, main road. At first, we didn’t realize what was going on–we thought it was a dog inside an invisible fence, wandering around in a front yard. That quickly changed. I got out of our car and ran out, waving my arms to stop traffic, while my husband flashed his headlights at the oncoming cars. I remember thinking everyone would see me and stop, even in the rain. They didn’t.
The dog was hit. I ran across the street and found the dog laying on the side of the road. I knelt down by him as he came to, and looked around at me. There was no sign of injury, at least on the outside of him. I started petting him on the head, very gently, talking to him. Eventually the driver who hit him got out; we found the owner’s phone number and address on the dog’s collar tags. One person called; another drove to the owner’s house nearby. I was in my dress clothes for work, sinking a little bit in the mud, praying that I could have Mr. Coffey’s powers from The Green Mile and take the pain away for this dog and heal him. It started raining harder.
The owner came, and by God’s grace an off-duty EMT showed up as well. Using a tarp we had in the back of our car, we moved the dog into the back of the owner’s vehicle and covered him in one of our blankets. They left, going presumably to the 24/7 Emergency Vet Clinic not too far away. I remain hopeful that, because of our quick action and teamwork, that the dog saw a veterinarian right away and is being cared for.
As the saint and I continued on our drive to work, it dawned on me: the dog was one of our neighbor’s who lived a street or two away from us. He was one of two hounds they owned. They often came by our house during the day for walks. They would bay, loudly and beautifully, full of joy of being alive and being able to smell the smells we can only dream of as humans. When I work from home, this was often a highlight of my day, hearing their howls–kind of the canine version of the Big Ben. Our dog–a Labrador mix–would bark at them from the inside of our house, huffing and puffing in her comedic way while wagging her tail. The music of dogs is a glorious thing.
The question always comes in instances like these: “Why do bad things happen?” I can recite some of the apologetics, give you a spiel on this being a fallen world, that things aren’t the way they were meant to be, so on, so forth. That is fine, all true, and sometimes a comforting thought. A slippery grip that gives us something to grab when we watch the news, or hear about a tragedy far removed from us. But then when we witness something like this up close–are really met with the gritty underbelly of a fallen world–we falter. “No, not like this”, we think. “Not like this.”
God knows and understands how much this has affected the Saint and I. He knows how much I love dogs, have cared for them since I was a child. I don’t doubt that one of my first words was probably the names of the neighbor’s dogs next to us growing up. God is with us when bad things happen–He will take care of everything. On this I trust. In His time and Way. He cries with us.
Until then, I keep looking out the windows of my writing room, hoping to hear a joyful bay once more. And praying for the fallen world we live in, watching the headlines about Ukraine and the other evils that continue rumbling in our world.
I hope to hear the howl.