I was just a couple miles from home when I passed a dog laying stiffly on his side.
He was in the grass next to the road, just feet from the traffic lane. And having spent the better part of my life around dogs, his complete lack of movement so close to the roadway could only suggest one thing.
I rode on, wishing there was something I could do. But I’d only gone about a block when that little voice in my head started nagging at me. And I asked myself, WWWCD?
As in, what would Will Campbell do?
So I rode back, and my initial observations confirmed the initial diagnosis of le chien mort.
Then I saw his tail move just a bit.
I started speaking in a low, soothing voice, hoping I could get close enough to read the tag on his collar. As I spoke, an eye opened. Then slowly, agonizingly, he turned his head to look at me, his body still stiff and unmoving.
Encouraged, I spoke a little more, as I tried to figure out how I could get him to a vet.
“Good boy. Are you okay, boy? Can you get up? Huh? Can you boy?”
Slowly, his front legs stirred underneath him, and he rose slightly to lift his upper body. Yet my heart broke as his back legs didn’t so much as twitch.
As I continued to speak softly, he barked once to answer me. At first, it seemed like a canine version of a Monty Python routine, as he bravely insisted he still had some life in him.
But then he barked again. And again. And he kept barking, seeming to get more and more annoyed each time I spoke.
And that’s when the door opened behind me, and a voice called him by name, saying “shut up out there!”
I turned to see a middle-aged man in a wife beater and suspenders, who seemed every bit as annoyed as his dog now was. I explained that I’d seen the dog laying next to the street, and was worried that he’d been hit by a car.
“No,” the man said, “he’s just lazy. He’s working on his tan.”
So I offered my apologies to both man and dog. Got back on my bike.
And rode off with my tail between my legs.
Damien Newton offers his own thoughts on the prosecution of cyclist-killing drivers. Will Campbell overcomes rejection to promote this week’s Bicycle Film Festival. Stephen Box asks if the system is upside down, when a cyclist is pushed into a parked car, and must pay for the damage her body caused to it. Joe Linton explores the bike lanes that suddenly appeared on Myra Ave, and explains why he bikes. Flying Pigeon announces their next Dim Sum Ride. Mr. Bicycle Fixation himself writes about the benefits of making L.A. more bike friendly. Honolulu proposes a three-foot passing law to protect cyclists from motor vehicles. Boston tries to shed it’s image as a bicycle-unfriendly city. Finally, police determine a Baltimore cyclist is at fault in his own death — even though they have video of a truck turning across his path.
i wasn’t on a bike, but i had such a similar thing happen to me in san francisco many years ago. however the beautiful golden retriever was laying in the gutter – the gutter! – with its legs straight up like rigor mortis had set in. i think i was on foot and i walked a few blocks and then gathered my courage to go back and see if it was indeed too late.
the dog was still there, in the same state and i went to a pay phone and called animal control. then, after all that, i turned around and saw the dog was walking around and went into a corner dress shop. i went in and told the ladies that i had mistakenly called the dog in and one of them harumphed and said “not again!”
Raise that tail, Ted, you done good! The dog was in the wrong place, but your heart’s in the right one.
Thanks Will, much appreciated.