Despite the title, no dogs were hurt in the making of this post. I promise you will not need tissues. You can continue reading without fear. I can’t stand stories where the dog dies in the end. Kill all the people you want, damn it, but save the dog. I mean, I thought the movie A Dog’s Purpose was the worst film idea ever. What kind of masochist wants to watch a dog die six times?
You’re sick, Hollywood. Sick.
Now, onto the dog-is-fine-I-promise story.
It took me years to get our rescue dogs properly trained. They each had different issues, though. Woofie, our Dane/ Labrador/ American Bulldog mix, could learn any command in minutes. But would he perform said command if there were exciting new dog or human friends around? Uh, no. In the beginning, there was no food reward or stern-voiced consequence that could deter Woofie from greeting/ jumping on potential playmates. Woofie loved everyone. He firmly believed everyone loved him back.
There are worse ways to go through life.
Fey, our once-starving rescue from the streets of South Central, was far more obedient than Woofie. The minute our Shar-pei/ Shepherd mix discovered my pockets contained a limitless supply of treats, she’d do anything to please me. She just couldn’t always figure out how. It took ages to train Fey to move in certain ways – even just rolling over.
Meanwhile, right next to her, Woofie would frantically roll over, play dead, give high-fives, hold a bone on his nose till commanded to flip his head back and catch it, shake water off his fur, or bring us a specific toy.
Fey did have one remarkable trick. If Woofie ran off when I had told both dogs to “stay,” she would immediately chase him down, tackle him, and herd him back to me. She was smaller than Woofie, but faster, meaner, and with much sharper teeth.
Eventually, Fey finally caught on and Woofie calmed down. They leaned to come when called. They heeled nicely on walks. They sat and stayed while I picked up poop. Fey and Woofie sat and waited at our gate while I took off leashes and let them back in our yard.
I was proud of my dogs and never hesitated to show them off.
One morning I foolishly ended our walk just as the local school’s drop-off traffic began. The temptation of so many children was too much for Woofie. Instead of going in the open gate, Woofie bolted down the sidewalk, heading for the main crosswalk that led to the school.
Fey went after him.
I chased after them both, visions of the Emergency Vet in my head.
Woofie galloped across the street. Thankfully, some remnant of training stayed in his big, bony head. He used the crosswalk.
Unfortunately, a Volvo station wagon was turning through that same crosswalk. Street-smart Fey slowed.
Woofie did not.
He smashed head first into the driver’s side quarter panel.
Then bounced off like it was nothing.
The Volvo stopped.
Woofie swerved around the front of the car and kept going.
A Mom in pajamas jumped out of her minivan on the other side of the street. Woofie identified her as a new friend. He pranced joyfully around her. She grabbed his collar. By the time I caught up, Woofie was on his back, offering his belly for scratches. Fey stood guard over him.
I examined Woofie for damage. His tongue lolled out over his jowls. He drooled like a cartoon lunatic. In short, he was totally normal.
I thanked Mini-van Mom profusely.
She sighed, looked down at her nightwear, and said, “Of course, the one day I wear pajamas to drop off, it’s the one day I get out of the car.”
Once I had the dogs leashed, I went back to the Volvo. Woofie’s head had left deep dent about 3 feet wide on the quarter panel.
“I’m so sorry,” I told the mom sitting in the driver’s seat. “It’s all my fault, let me give you our insurance information. I’ll call them and open a claim.”
Her face was very pale. The poor woman’s voice and hands shook as she told me, “It’s okay. I thought…I thought for a second I’d hit a child.”
I felt complete shame and guilt, and rightly so. Stupid me, showing off my well-trained dogs. “Oh, my God, that’s terrible, I am so, so, sorry,” I babbled. “Please, please, my house is right here, just park and come inside and let me get you some water and you can sit until you feel okay. Do you want coffee? Tea? Anything?”
The Volvo driver did come inside. She was more forgiving than I deserved as we swapped insurance info.
It took a long time for her hands to quit shaking, though.
After she left, I called the vet and explained that my dog’s head had crashed into a car’s quarter panel.
Her voice grave, the vet asked, “You’d better bring her in – wait. Which dog?”
Her concern vanished. “Oh, it’s Woofie! He’s the one who dragged me out of the exam room and down the hall to meet all the kenneled dogs, right?”
“Yeah, that’s the one.”
“With the gigantic head?”
“Any blood? Bleeding gums? Erratic behavior?”
“Nope, didn’t even fall over.”
She snickered. “Of course not. Big dogs like him, they take a shot like that pretty well. Bring him in if anything changes, though I bet he’s fine.”
She was right. Woofie was fine. Just like I promised, remember?
My next phone call was to my insurance company, USAA.
I told the agent, “I need to open a claim because my dog hit a car.”
“You mean…your dog got hit by a car?”
“No, my dog hit the car. A Volvo station wagon, to be exact.”
“Is…is the dog okay?”
“He’s fine. The station wagon isn’t.”
“I…can you hold just a minute?”
I held while the rep finished either laughing or summoning her colleagues with, “Guys! Guys! You’re not gonna believe this one!”
Once she came back on the line, though, the agent was completely professional. “So this will be a claim on your homeowner’s insurance, which covers damage done by dogs, although a dog hitting a car is definitely, um, unique…”
That’s my dog. Unique.