My shift at the plant ended at midnight and I was headed home. I was three miles from a hot shower, a cold beer, and blissful decompression. The four-lane road was deserted except for me and the SUV ahead in the same lane.
The limit was 45 mph but in my eagerness to get home I was speeding at 46. A row of cars in a lot was close by the right side of the road and, as the SUV passed, a large dog unknowingly entered the road from between the cars. The collision was sudden and unavoidable.
From my position directly behind I could see, illuminated by my headlights, the violent mangling beneath the SUV as the dog was buffeted between undercarriage and pavement, the tires just missing on either side. The SUV sped on as the dog tumbled out the back, and I jumped on my brake. He lay stunned, illuminated by my headlights. Then the horrible high-pitched yelping began as he writhed, his legs splayed at unnatural angles. I had to do something quickly.
My brain had just begun to race with options when the yelping slowed and quieted. The dog, straining and trembling, raised himself on his front paws. Then his back legs, flat against the pavement, worked themselves shakily back into position, and he rose. He gave his head a shake and steadied himself.
Turning to face me directly, ten feet from my bumper, and apparently associating my headlights with the perpetrator of the rude thumping, he began to chastise me in no uncertain terms thus: “Woof! Woof woof woof! Woof woof…Woof!” I stared back open-mouthed as he glared at me.
Then, after a well timed pause for effect, he trotted off in perfect form in the direction whence he came, head held high in an attitude of victory. And just before he disappeared into the dark he glanced over his shoulder and shot me one last “Woof!” The tone of contempt was unmistakable.
I shook my own head, steadied myself, and then, in a reflexive gesture of one who has just witnessed grace, and in gratitude for being delivered from difficulty, I made the Sign of the Cross.
I lifted my foot from the brake and my thoughts returned to that hot shower and cold beer.