I cried all the way to work. Feeling shell-shocked, I still couldn’t process what my neighbor had just told me.
Driving down the road to work, my neighbor frantically waved me down. Pulling over, I rolled the window down to find out what had happened. Then he said, “Luke was killed this morning by a truck on Cougar Run.” And a part of me just couldn’t comprehend what he said.
Luke, the big bounding, happy-go-lucky yellow lab. The one who loved everyone, who loved life, who loved running down the dirt road frolicking after his buddy, Murphy, the German Shepherd. It just didn’t seem possible.
They say every loss brings up the grief of previous losses. Perhaps this is why I sobbed like a baby all the way to work. This loss brought up the grief of losing my beloved Zuni cat earlier this summer. Luke’s death brought up the loss of my friend’s Susan dog just a week prior. It just seemed to much to bear.
Then I got angry. How could an 80-pound dog be killed by a pick-up on Cougar Run? Our little private one-lane dirt road with a 15 mile per hour speed limit.
Once when I was a little girl, my dad hit a dog in our neighborhood. The dog jumped out into the road, and the car hit him. But Dad had been driving very slowly, around 15 mph or so, and he hit him with a soft glancing blow. The dog rolled over once on the street as Dad pulled the car over, jumping out to check on him. As soon as got out of the car, the dog jumped up and bounded off into the yard across the street.
Remembering this, I couldn’t believe this could happen in our quiet little neighborhood. But I got angry because there are so many times during the past year I can remember cars, trucks and vans zooming along, forcing me to jump to the side of the road with Simon and Shawnee.
A couple of time I have waved my arms to gesture “Slow down.” One man in a black pick-up with dark tinted windows pulled up alongside of me. I won’t lie. I feared for my life, afraid he had a gun, afraid he would shoot me dead.
“I’m driving the speed limit!” he spat out.
“I don’t think so. It’s only 15 miles per hour on this road.”
He rolled up the window and sped off.
Something has to be done. It’s not only for the dogs, but for the people. Elderly couples walk this road. I’ve seen mothers with strollers walk in front of our house, and of course, small children on bikes.
If the five seconds that it saves a driver mean that much to them, that they would take an animal’s life, then they should move somewhere else. We value our peace, our quiet, and yes, a leisurely stroll down our country dirt road without feeling like you are taking your life into your hands.
It is not okay to drive recklessly through our mountain enclave. If you live in this mountain town or another, please take a moment to think about the consequences and take your foot off the gas.
It could be the difference between life and death.