This post is part of series I’m doing for Pet Loss Prevention Month.
It was completely my fault.
Hershey hadn’t been out for a walk or to the dog park all week. It was November, the annual big trash day was coming, and I was trying to get as much of my front yard foliage as possible cut up and put into the street to be scooped up by city workers in the coming days. I was doing something with electric hedge trimmers, or maybe an electric chainsaw, I don’t quite remember, but it being electric is the important part.
My house is a hundred year old California Bungalow that has survived pretty well during the last 36,524 days, but is not without its issues. One of those issues is the fact that electricity was almost exclusively an indoor thing when the house was built, so there are a total lack of outdoor sockets. To power the device I was using to mangle my shrubbery I had run an extension cord into the house through the front door which could almost close and latch despite having a thick outdoor extension cord snaking under it. The word “almost” is the important part.
At some point in my defoliation project something happened. Either the wind blew it or Hershey herself pawed the door open, I don’t know which. Never the less the door was wide open, the dog was bored, and there was the whole wide world waiting for her to explore.
She exploded out of the house, past me, and into the street, happy as a clam. What great fun to be out! To be off leash! To go anywhere! Normally, the street I live on is very quiet with little traffic. NORMALLY. Hershey happens to barrel out into the street just as not one, but two cars are coming. She runs in front of the first car, and the driver slams on her brakes. I swear to this day I heard a THUMP. I call “Hershey!” in a tone of agony that I never want to hear come from my throat again. A second later she comes around the other side of the car, enthusiastically wagging and runs down the street. I call to her repeatedly and in increasing desperation, but she’s going to have her fun.
As is common in situations like this things become a little fuzzy and I’m not exactly sure of the order of events. Did I get my car keys and close the front door? Were the keys already in my pocket and I left the door open? I don’t recall. What I do recall is my dog running down our quiet street and taking a right at the first cross street which leads to the busiest street in the area, a four lane thoroughfare of distracted drivers going ten miles over the posted limit of forty.
I jump in my truck and speed after her. By the time I get to the cross street she’s near, or maybe even in the busy road. I’ve been honking while I was driving to try to get her attention, something that actually worked, because before I know it she’s running in front of my truck! I slam on the brakes, and come to a stop somehow managing to not hit my dog. She’s excitedly circling the truck so I open the passenger door and she hops in! Yay! Fun! We’re having an adventure! I drove around the block and got us back home.
For several weeks afterwards I had several instances of mild panic attacks as the events replayed in my head and I spun tales of what could have been. I had been very lucky, she had been very lucky, and I didn’t want to trust her well being to luck alone again.