Monday, August 25, 2008

Things I need to get off my chest

Hello everyone. Chances are that, by now, due to the lack of regular activity, you have stopped regularly checking my blog. This is my own fault. I have been so busy working and sorting out numerous other important things in my life, that I simply haven't had time. Ironically, this is probably the period of my life when I will look back and wish that I had kept more regular notes. I have had many incredible experiences over the last several months, and many would have made good stories. Unfortunately, I will probably not get the chance to tell them here anytime soon.

But I do need to talk to you about some other stuff. Several things have been happening to me recently, and I really need to put them into words so that I can come to terms with them. Here is one of the big ones.

The Story of my Dog
We were on our way to Fukushima, driving along Route 4. Traffic was heavy, and the road was thin. It was raining and there was a little bit of thunder and lightning. Yuri had just finished asking me what twilight was, and I responded by saying "Right now." Suddenly, traffic slowed down in front of us, and we noticed a big, dark colored mut dog limping up the side of the road. I noticed that blood was pouring out of his mouth. I made Yuri stop the car, and ran back to see if the dog was ok. He wasn't. He was limping up the road and into a forest, but was unable to step up out of the street and onto the sidewalk for some reason. Trucks were coming within one foot of hitting him. I tried to coax him out of the street. He wouldn't come. I tried to push him on to the sidewalk. He tried to bite me. He walked a little more and began to lose his balance. He stumbled into traffic. A truck stopped just before hitting him. I pushed him out of the way of the truck and he laid down on the curb. Yuri showed up and I told her to call the police. She called. The police said they couldn't help. We called vets. The vets asked if it was a stray, and we said we didn't know. We couldn't get close enough to see if there was a collar. The vets told Yuri that they wouldn't treat the dog if it was a stray, and that it was past business hours. By now it was dark. Yuri went back to get her car, and I stayed and held an umbrella over the dog. Trucks and cars sped by, inches from hitting the umbrella and the dog. I waved at passing cars. At first urging them to slow down, but soon I was begging them to stop. If someone would just stop their car, I would be able to throw a blanket over the dogs head and lift it on to the sidewalk without being hit by a car or bitten. Hundreds of cars passed. No one stopped. Finally Yuri showed up, again. Together we were able to stop traffic long enough for me to lift the dog on to the sidewalk.

And then I began to realize how bad the situation was. The dog wasn't fighting me anymore. And it's body was racked by spasms evert 10 breaths. All I could do was pet him and tell him that he was good. Yuri called some more people. Finally, a girl parked her car, and the two of them began to call. Then the police showed up, most likely because someone had seen me crouched on the edge of the road acting strangely. The police were not impressed that all of the commotion was over a dog. We finally found a vet willing to take a dog who had no identifiable owner, and was willing to work after business hours. I lifted the dog into the back of the car of the girl who stopped. The police were nice enough to make sure we got to the vet. The vet took the dog out of the car, and put him on the operating table. We then discovered that his abdomen had a gash in it as big as my fist. I sat in the chair next to the operating table and stared into the dogs eyes for several minutes. I couldn't look away. I have seen death, but I have never seen death look back. It changed something in me, but in a way that is neither good nor bad. While I looked into his greying eyes, I saw what looked like calmness. Relief. Not quite satisfaction, but relief.

The vet made us leave, and we went to Eri's house. We got a phone call about an hour later saying that the dog had put up a good fight, but there was nothing the vet could do. Then lightning struck the powerlines outside of Eri's house, and the lights went out. I didn't sleep that night.

I learned something. But I am having trouble figuring out what it is. Part of it is the satisfaction of knowing that I really did all I could do. Part of it is the realization that all I can do wasn't enough, and there is nothing to be satisfied about. Part of it is seeing that, in fact, my high school psychology text book was right, and that the average person will not go out of their way to help a stranger. And part of it is knowing that, if I ever see someone or some creature in distress, I had better offer help, because chances are that no one else will.

None of these are really positive lessons. But there is one inspiring thing about this story. Even though he had been hit by a car so hard that his abdomen burst open, even though he was coughing blood, his tail and legs were all shattered in multiple places, even though he had to walk uphill, inches from the cars which had just hit him, at night, during an incredible thunderstorm, the dog kept walking until his legs literally collapsed. He even tried to get up several times, while I was petting him waiting for Yuri. He was trying to get home. And when I looked into his dying eyes, I knew that he was a good dog.

And at least I was able to tell him that he was a good boy.