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Love for a Hound

May 21, 2011

Around 7:30pm yesterday, M thought he heard an accident outside of my house and we went to the window to see what happened. When I looked out , I saw a car double parked outside of my house, a handful of people standing in the street and a dog lying in the middle of the road a few houses down. I instantly recognized the dog as the blood hound, or as M and I affectionately call him, Hound, who lives down the block. I think I remember saying, “Oh my god, Hound got hit by a car.” I grabbed my jacket and B and I both ran down my front stairs to see if we could help.

When we got to the scene, Hound’s owner was sitting on the ground next to his body, understandably beside herself with grief. A gentleman who often walks by with his doberman informed us that Hound was about to go out for a walk when he spotted his friend Doberman across the street. In his excitement, he got free of his collar and leash and dashed into the road. Because he darted out from behind a parked car, the man driving by in the rental car did not see him coming. Looking back, we did not hear brakes squealing or see any signs on the road that he had tried to brake. He probably did not see him in time.

B asked if anyone had made a call for help and they said no. I seemed to be the only one with a phone so I made a call to the nearest emergency pet hospital, only to find out that they cannot pick up an injured animal; they can only treat those who are brought to them. Hound’s owner did not want to move his body in case there was a spinal injury. By this time, more neighbors (including my dad) were gathering and offering mostly comforting words to the owner. She kept trying to feel for his heartbeat and asked others to do the same but no one knew exactly where to feel for it. In the meantime, I made a call to Animal Control. The man I spoke to wanted to speak to the owner but by this time, she was beginning to lose hope and was lying down with Hound and sobbing. He had to talk to me. After telling them our location, the man said that AC was all the way in the Mission district (across town; about 30 minutes away with good traffic) and told me the that taking Hound to the nearest emergency would give him the best chance of survival. After urging his owner and telling her that every minute we debated whether or not to move him could make a difference, she finally agreed to let one of us drive her and Hound to the emergency hospital. There were two men who were in the rental and the younger man agreed to take them. A few others began to find towels and blankets that could be used to transport Hound. I waited with the owner and stroked Hounds head, not even sure if he could feel the comforting gesture.

At this time, a plainclothes police officer approached and asked what happened. We explained the situation and he said that we should not transport Hound and to call AC. I explained to him that we had already done that and that they said to take him to the hospital ourselves. The  officer continued to insist that we wait for AC and I tried to tell him that we were beyond that point but he had already called for backup. Off to the side, we had created a makeshift stretcher out of a large blanket that another neighbor had offered and managed to maneuver Hound onto it. All the while, his owner was begging us to be gentle and very careful. The young man pulled the car up and we were ready to put him in. I turned around to talk to the officer for what seemed to be a minute and when I turned back around, the young man said that he couldn’t take them in the car – that there was something wrong with it. I did not realize at the time that it was a rental and putting Hound in was not really an option. Irritated, I told him to pull his car out of the way so someone else could drive them.

As we had this exchange, three police cars pulled up and it was more of the same. What happened. Call Animal Control. Don’t move him. After we got past all of that and stated that we were indeed taking him to the hospital, we asked if one of the officers could drive them. It would be much quicker and no one on the block had their cars ready or did not want to offer their help. As the officers radioed in to get clearance to do so, B and my dad ran back to our house to get all her stuff out of her car just in case the officers couldn’t help.

Finally, they got permission and we started to move Hound into the car. One of my biggest regrets is that we did not have a well-thought-out plan to get him into the patrol car. The young man who had the side of the blanket with Hound’s head could not back up into the backseat of the car and simultaneously hold up Hound’s weight. The blanket slipped and we were all horrified. The man who had been helping lift on my left could not stand it and walked away. A police officer stepped in and helped us get Hound into the car finally and they left almost immediately. While this was happening, Hound’s owner was closing up her house so that she could accompany him to the hospital and did not see our painful mistake. I am so thankful for that. On her way into the patrol car, she thanked all of us for helping but I still felt horrible. After she left, a few officers stayed behind to talk to the driver and basically told the rest of us to go away. Even though I was adamant about getting him to the hospital, I don’t think that he could survive the injuries he sustained. Even the owner had made a hysterical phone call in the middle of the ordeal crying that he was “gone.”

We went back to our house and talked about what happened, piecing together the parts of the story we knew. Just saying out loud what caused the accident made me extremely upset and hours later, I am still upset. It was an accident and it isn’t really anyone’s fault. But I’m still saddened. I’m sad for Hound’s owner and family because their dog’s life came to an end so abruptly. I’m sad that an innocent walk turned deadly in a heartbeat. I’m sad that the only reason he was hit was because he was so happy and excited to see a friend that he got out of his collar and tried to run to him. I’m sorry that I did not think through how to get him into the car safely. I feel like I let Hound and his owner down the moment he hit the pavement for a second time. I feel completely responsible and I’m sick over it.

Honestly, I haven’t been able to completely process what happened. All I know is that what I do with Cow will be different forever. We have a lot of dogs on this block and when they need to go out for potty breaks, many of us, including me, tend to just take them out onto the lawn to do their business. Off leash. Until 7:30pm last night, it didn’t seem like a big deal. But now, he will never go outside without his collar and leash. Also, I have made a vow that if I’m ever in that situation again, I will know where to find the heartbeat and administer CPR if necessary.I will be more useful. More importantly, I won’t ever take my time with Cow for granted again.

Hound was a good dog and our block will never be the same. He was like our block’s town crier. When someone came home or parked across the street, he and his doggy brother were always out on the veranda to announce our presence and welcome us back. When other dogs walked by, he would greet them heartily with a howl and his brother would follow suit. Though he was not my dog, I still feel like something is missing. Our block is far too quiet.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 28, 2011 3:04 pm

    You did all that you could. Please don’t beat yourself up over it ok? This is such a sad story as it is, you don’t need to have regrets about everything you did to try and help. You’re an amazing person.

    • amandapoon permalink*
      May 29, 2011 10:15 am

      That’s very kind of you to say. After a few days, I could see that there was really nothing more I could have done at that time. A few days after the accident, Hound’s brother began barking again. If he could move past the trauma, so could I.

      Thanks so much again for your encouraging words!


      Sent from my iPhone

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