She didn’t have much of a chance for life. When I found her on the side of the road her bones jutted out in odd angles and her skin hung like loose drapes. A puppy, but months beyond fat and adorable. She stood vigil in the same spot for three days, I hear, waiting for her owner to come back. But they had left her for dead on a mountain road. Fleas and ticks sucked her nearly dry.
I made Quinton stop. One look at this frail black wisp and my heart melted. Her distant eyes focused on me when I squatted down next to her. Her tail flopped once…twice, and light shone deep in her brown irises. I offered, ever so slowly, my hand for her to sniff. She licked it and her tail dusted the ground like a helicopter’s rotor-blade.
I turned, pleading to Quinton. I couldn’t leave. She would surely die if another hour went by. I knew he would say yes, not that I was really asking. It was more for confirmation of my decision. And so, I wrapped my arms around her, being careful not to apply too much pressure. It felt as if her bones were made of glass. I placed her in the back seat. I expected her to tremble in fear, but no, her tail waved hello and she viced my heart harder.
It was as if God had told this girl what I would look like, smell like, taste like. I was her new human and she knew it. Before we even made it a half-mile down the road, I knew her name was Raven. I asked her if she liked it and she wagged her tail harder.
The kids squealed when we brought her in. We bathed her and fed her. Eventually we taught her how to play fetch and go to the bathroom outside. She was so dang cute when she ran. She’d be going along when all of a sudden her legs would go out from beneath her, reminding me of a newborn calf. It took Raven no time to fit into this crazy house.
She is by far the most loving and loyal dog we’ve ever had. Always ready to fetch a ball or snuggle a side. When we go for grocery day, she waits at the top of the road for our return, hours at a time, praying we won’t leave her like the people did before. Best riding dog ever.
So today, it grieves me more than you will ever know to say I killed her. I didn’t mean to and if I could go back a few short hours, I would make sure she was shut safely inside. But you can’t take it back once it’s done.
I was on my way out to go shopping with the girls. Raven followed us up the hill, wanting to go. But it’s hot and she wouldn’t be safe in the truck for all that time. So, I tried to outpace her on the road. She was closer than I thought and her legs tangled under the tire at 15 mph. I heard a yelp and stopped. Looking in the rear-view mirror I spotted her down and flailing. The girls were screaming and crying and all I could think was I am a murderer.
There wasn’t any blood but I could see she was hurt badly. And she looked at me with those always trusting eyes. I could almost hear an, “I love you” as her tail flapped once…twice…then not at all. We shuffled her into the truck and hurried to the vet. She panted half the way and then a calm came over my Raven. My girls kept saying she must be fine because she wasn’t yelping. But I knew her eyes had told me good-bye.
I carried her limp body in to the vets, careful not to put any undo pressure on her shattered bones. She was alive, but just. Her neck was broken and she was paralyzed. Her hip was shattered and possibly more. She didn’t respond at all to pinch tests. I had to decide if I should let her suffer longer or put her to sleep.
I called Quinton and cried. My girls sobbed. They couldn’t watch the shot that would stop her pain. I killed this beautiful creature that had only given love and joy. I owed her. I stroked her silky fur until her last breath. I am so sorry.
Thank you, God, for the love of a dog.
Peace, love and God’s will.