One of my dogs was struck and killed by a car on Friday afternoon. All these thoughts about her keep running through my head, and I need a place to put them down ... here's as good as any.
This is her the day we brought her home from the shelter. She was between 1 1/2 - 2 years old, 15 lbs, and had bald patches on her legs and very thin fur. She was scared of everything. In the photos from the shelter, she was held in a woman's arms like a toddler, clutching onto the woman with her paws. She was afraid of men.
When we went to the store to buy her a crate so she wouldn't tear up anything in our house, she ripped up the carpet. We sang to her, "Josie Posie Pudding Pie, eats the carpet, makes us cry." Her crate had to be put next to our bed for a long time, because the first time we put her in it, she bent the bars with her teeth.
Here she is, playing in the snow a few months later. By that time, we had adopted a female puppy we'd found in the road by our house. The puppy had troubles sleeping alone in her crate - we housed them together and all the problems stopped. They slept together almost every night from then on.
All of our dogs, playing with my husband on the same day.
Josie went on to have a happy three years with us. She lost her fear of people. She lost her anxiety. She never really learned to play with toys, though. She gained at least five lbs, most of it in hair. She never had another bald spot.
She loved to snuggle. The last photo was taken just a few months ago. If she wasn't in my lap, she would be sitting on a blanket next to my chair. She would dance and prance around when she was happy and initiate chasing games with the other dogs when they played in the yard. She would sit up pretty and beg for treats, and she was never far when they were being doled out. She would snatch them up the quickest.
She was always watching my son from a distance. As he started to walk and grab, she would evade him and stay always patient ... after all, who else would dangle spaghetti for her? And when he caught her, she was always kind and docile until she could get away.
I let the dogs out to go potty on Friday afternoon. My husband was coming home from work. Josie always liked to run off - we live in a rural area, so I wasn't too worried. She liked to jump in my landlord's pond - up a long, little-used gravel driveway. She also liked to play with the neighbor's beagles - a grassy corridor ran through the trees to their house to allow power lines to go through. For some reason, on Friday, she took to the road, where she was struck in the face only a few feet from our mailbox. I imagine that she died nearly instantly. My husband was on the phone with me and saw her as he came around the corner. I ran to the car with the baby and got ready to run her to the vet. All he had said was "she's hit." He carried my bloody little girl to me so I could say goodbye. Her face was mutilated due to the blow to the head. I'm haunted by the image. The rest of her was completely unhurt and intact. Why couldn't she have been struck in the leg? I would gladly have rushed her to the vet and done anything to keep her alive if there was a way to save her. Instead, I have to get her cremated to keep her near me.
This is how I imagine her spirit going forward. Watching over my son, who was just beginning to understand that the dogs were separate things and who was just beginning to ask for their names. In the end, I gave her three years of family and love, where nobody beat her or gave her reason to be afraid. And I'm thankful that someone runs a pet crematory service in this small town so I don't have to leave her body buried in a property I'll eventually leave. I find it supremely unfair that someone struck and killed my little girl and didn't even stop to read her tag and call me. And I feel supremely guilty for not watching over her more closely - after all, the day before she died, I tweeted "Ironic: Josie is the dog I love most, and she's also the most likely to escape and get killed by car or coyote." I was fully aware of the risks she would take and I didn't save her from herself.
Hug your dogs. And thank you for reading and giving me a safe environment to voice my grief in.
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