I took my dog Pippin to an off-leash dog park on the outskirts of Kelowna a week ago.
Pippin loves dog parks.
She gets to run and play with other dogs, unhampered by a leash.
This visit started out as usual. I unclipped her leash. She pranced off to meet with a group of other dogs, and their owners gathered in the shade of some trees.
Suddenly, a black and white and tan streak emerged out of the cluster, heading for the gates as if it had a load of buckshot in its butt.
“Is that my dog?” I asked one of the other owners, incredulously. I had never seen her run that fast before.
“Yes,” she called back.
I whistled. I called. No response.
I expected the double gates at the park entry would stop her. They didn’t. She slid under the first one on her side.
Then under the second. And out onto the highway. Running north, as if she were demented. Running, running, running.
I started running myself.
It took me longer to get through the gates than it took her to get under them. I started my car. Roared out onto the highway – not dangerous, because a panicking dog had brought traffic to a standstill – and raced up the wrong side of the road in pursuit of a distant dot.
I don’t know where she thought she was headed, Or why. Maybe she doesn’t either. Because just as I caught up to her, she turned and started racing back again. Almost to the dog park.
And then whoops, reverse again. Still going hell-bent-for-foreclosure.
All along the road, cars had stopped. Half a dozen people were trying to corral Pippin as she streaked by. Even a highway works crew stopped repairing potholes to try to corner her.
But she would have none of it.
I went up the middle of the road. In the wrong lane. On the gravel shoulder. Finally, I got ahead of her, pulled over, opened the door.
She leapt in.
I felt terrified that I would lose her. That all I would have left of my beloved companion would be a crushed and bloody corpse, run over by some truck that didn’t see her.
I’m amazed at the universal response.
To stop. To pull over. To flag other drivers down.
To get out of the car, to run out onto the pavement, to try to gather in a desperate dog.
This column is the only way I have to express my gratitude.
It would have been so easy for someone in a self-centred hurry to pull out, to roar past, to feel a minor thump underneath…But no one did.
We may, as a voting public, make occasional foolish decisions. We may, in our economic greed, invest in industries that damage the environment, that harm our health.
But where it’s possible for individuals to respond compassionately, most of us do.
Sure, there are always a few who give the rest of us a bad name. Not this time.
And thank God – by whatever formulation I believe in this week – I was able to bring my dear dog home safely.
Thank you all.
Jim Taylor lives in Lake Country.