Heaving a deep sigh of relief

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, and I’ve got a lot to post about, but things have been very busy around here and other writing needed to take precedence in my limited writing time.

I had hoped to come back with something more deeply meaningful, but something happened that I felt that I needed to share with more than my family and it was too long for Twitter.

While driving my son home from dance class tonight (in round three of our lovely snowstorm), we were traveling along a dark local road. It’s a 3.1-mile straightaway, so while I was very alert and even a bit uptight driving that road, I still felt pretty confident despite the fact that the visibility was severely limited and the road was covered with slippery snow. My son, in the back seat, was babbling on about something inconsequential in his post-workout decompression.

We crested a hill, and there about 50 feet away were two dogs running RIGHT AT THE CAR! I hit the brakes, which locked up and caused me to skid on the packed snow. I tried to steer the car toward the right, as the dogs were near the center of the road. The dogs kept running RIGHT AT THE CAR! I thought that I might get past them on the right, but then I heard and felt a THUMP from the front of the car on my side as we reached the dogs.

“Oh, crap!” I said tersely, as the car finally came to a stop.

“What?” came from the back seat.

“I think I just hit a dog.”

The Kid started making whimpering sounds. (He’s very partial to animals, even though he’s allergic to fur and feathers.)

I looked in the mirrors and couldn’t see anything but darkness. There were no cars approaching from either direction, and there was a driveway just ahead and to my left. I started slowly turning into the driveway, intending to turn around and go back to see what had happened.

As I started getting into the driveway and swiveling my head both ways to see if the road was still clear of oncoming traffic, I saw two dogs running at me from behind. I stopped and watched as the dogs ran past the car, heading back in the direction that they had come from.

“Oh, thank God!” I thought (which is a strange thing to think for an agnostic, but I’ll analyze that later). I slowly backed out, back into the traffic lane, and carefully followed them up the road.

Both dogs appeared to be trotting normally, at least to my eyes, and they continued up the road in front of me, in my lane, as I slowly followed.

The dogs moved toward the oncoming lane just as a car began to approach from the other direction. I flashed my brights to alert them to slow down, and the dogs came back into my lane before the car arrived. It was probably about a quarter mile to half mile up the road when they took a quick right and ran up a driveway, though it seemed like an eternity. I guess I did an OK job escorting them home.

I’m still not sure what I would have done if I had gone back and one of the dogs was hurt or dead. I just knew that I had to do something. I’m so grateful that I didn’t have to find out how I’d handle it, but I’m also glad to know that—when something happened—I did the right thing. I just hope that I never have to find out what I’d do if I accidentally hurt or killed an animal.

I’m still a little shaken up, but the muscles in my neck are finally starting to loosen up a bit and my nerves are becoming a bit less frazzled.

I guess this is just a note to everyone driving in inclement conditions: Don’t be overconfident in your ability to handle the road conditions, even if you know the road very well. You never know when you’ll run into hard-packed snow and dogs running right at your car.

Has anything like this happened to you? Any insight that you can share? Please comment below.

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