I Killed a Dog Today

I ran across some hunters in a parking lot just inside Murfreesboro. They had a deer tied up in the back of the truck and a small gathering of admirers (it was a 10-pointer). I made a quick decision to stop and pulled through the lot, parked close by and pulled the camera out of the back. No problem taking a picture, they said, and the shooter jumped up on the truck and posed. I drove to Fayetteville and back this weekend. Picked up Herb at the farm on the way down, and told him my story. "I hate that," he said. "I don't have anything against the hunting, but they don't have to tie them to the hood of their car or hang em over the back and parade em through town. They could put em in the back and cover em with a tarp or something."

All the way down, I saw one dead deer after another on the side of the road, and thought how big and needy this herd must be. And how petrifying it must be to be caught on a highway.

I dropped Herb off on the way home, came around a curve and a medium-sized dog walked in front of my car. It seemed to be slow motion in an instant. But I remember making the decision to hit him. I was doing 60, there was oncoming traffic, two cars on my bumper, and a ditch three feet off the shoulder. If I had hit the brakes, I would have still hit him, only they would have locked and I'd be rolling across a field. Swerving would be a similar story. So I gripped the wheel harder, and then came the thud.

My air was sucked out, and I can't remember feeling that sad in a long time. I put the car on cruise control, and was shaken the rest of the way. I'd killed a dog.