Monday, October 20, 2014

On Road Kill and Rescue

I am pleased to report that no animals were killed during my drive home from a meeting Tuesday night. This is an enormous relief. Have you ever heard the adage that bad things happen in threes? Well, apparently, I accidentally kill animals with my vehicle in threes, and hitting that raccoon on the Sunday night of our plumbing debacle in September starts a new round in the match-up between my car and Mother Nature's adorable furry things.

Back in the late 90s, I hit Bambi on I-85 near Atlanta. Bambi and his mom decided that dusk was the perfect time to cross four lanes of west-bound interstate. Bambi fell to the front bumper of my sporty red Acura Integra, was pulled into the wheel well, and did not suffer.

I pulled off the interstate at the next exit and called George from a payphone. Remember those? Anyway, he couldn't grasp why I was upset about KILLING BAMBI!!! when clearly the car needed work and oh the expense. I hung up on him and called my mother, who completely understood why I was falling apart at a service station parking lot pay phone. She talked me down from the ledge so I could continue my drive home to Columbus, Georgia.

My husband lovingly and comfortingly called me B.K. (Bambi Killer) for the following year or so.


Within two months, I'd also hit a sparrow in broad daylight with multiple witnesses in the car, and shortly thereafter I ran over a cat late one night.

I can still hear the sound. It was horrible.

Until the recent raccoon incident, I hadn't killed anything but bugs with my car since that cat. I'd successfully avoided hitting several deer when we lived in Rapid City, but otherwise, wildlife and household pets had stayed away from me and my vehicle.

Now that I've sent a poor raccoon to heaven, what's next? I'm paranoid about it. Will it be a skunk?An opossum? A ground hog? A squirrel? A turtle?

Turtles aren't furry but they can be kind of cute. I'd feel bad hitting one.

Recently, NPR reported that State Farm predicts Ohioans have a 1-in-127 chance of hitting a deer in the next year. Last year, it was a 1-in-135 chance. I'm not liking my odds. At least I don't live in West Virginia, where the chances of hitting a deer are 1 in 39. Oy vey!

The truly sad thing about this subject is its ubiquity. As you've read my stories of vehicular animal slaughter, you've probably remembered your own guilt in hitting adorable furry things. They will insist on darting across roads right in front of us.

Sometimes, good can come out of these encounters, though. Such was the case when George rescued a barred owl that had been hit and lay dazed and confused on the side of the road. You can read about the rescue HERE and about Caesar's release back to the wild HERE.

We've also saved a dove, because, you know, they are endangered and everything. And Nick and I saved a snapping turtle that we urged across the road but didn't touch as, you know, they snap.

And, it turns out, they hiss menacingly, too.

These more positive encounters with nature surely give us some good karma to balance the bad. Just how responsible are we when animals dash in front of our cars or fly into our grills?

I'm reminded of a story from my teaching days at Wichita State University. One of my fellow graduate teaching assistants walked in to his freshman composition class on the first day of the semester. In the front row, he saw a visually-impaired student with a guide dog next to a student wearing a turban. During the class, a cockroach scurried in front of the class, and a student yelled for the teacher to kill it. The turbaned student argued, "Don't kill it! It's a living thing!" While the teacher hesitated, wondering what the politically correct thing to do might be in such a bizarre situation, the guide dog snapped up the roach and ate it.

The moral of the story: dogs are gross.

And maybe sometimes things just happen.

But please, Lord, let them not happen in threes.

1 comment:

  1. I certainly hope your Kill Score says at one this time around, and I've made a note to be extra vigilant while driving thru West Virginia.

    I must add...your cockroach/dog story reminded me of the time we were at the vet. I had Miko, my Lab, in for a check-up and we were sitting on the floor. The vet was explaining something or other and a fly was doing non-stop fly-by's. No one mentioned the fly or even swatted at it...but I could see Miko was keeping her eye on it. In one graceful move, when the Kamikaze fly flew a bit too close, Miko reached up and snatched that fly in mid air...never lifting a paw off the ground. In one gulp that fly was gone...a la Karate Kid style. I couldn't have been more proud. It was a good thing the vet was already on the floor, because she burst into a good old-fashioned belly laugh.

    Yes, dogs are gross.


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