When I rounded the corner on my way to the bank, I saw two police cars and an animal control vehicle parked in the roadway up ahead, gathered was a small crowd of people at the corner. As I slowly drove passed, an animal control worker leaned over the body of a small dog that lay still on a small grass area that lined the sidewalk. The dog must have collided with a car, the thought deeply saddened me.
Less than ten minutes later, on my return, I again passed the scene. This time, on the grass alone, was the lifeless body of a dog next to a yellow fire hydrant. The emotional memories of loss pressed against my chest causing tears to stream down my face. When I arrived home and exited my car a woman stopped to ask if I had heard what happened to the dog. I said to her that I thought a car had struck the dog. She shook her head with a sadness I could feel before she slowly described the horror that had taken place five minutes before I rounded the corner.
The owner had just left his house to walk his dog. Out from nowhere an unleashed dog aggressively charged his dog. He kicked the charging dog away at which time the owner of that dog started yelling from across the street. A brief altercation ensued when the unleashed dog’s owner demanded money from the man who kicked his dog. The owner refused, turned away, and quickly headed back to his home.
A brief time later, his teenage son volunteered to take the dog out for a walk. Unfortunately, the man who demanded money returned with another man each bearing a machete. One of the men yanked the dog’s leash from the son’s hand, dragged the dog over to the yellow fire hydrant where the man tied the dog’s leash so it could not escape. They then brutally attacked the dog with the machetes, severing the dog’s spine.
I could not respond to the woman, in shock, I fumbled with my keys to unlock my front door, I desperately wanted to get inside and close out the world. I sat on the couch to ponder the depth of man’s brutality admittedly knowing humanity has exhibited such evilness since its appearance on this planet. Tears of heartbreak dripped from my chin as images of the dog laying there next to the yellow fire hydrant repeated in my mind.
The next morning my dog, Buddy, and I started out for our morning walk. We rounded the same corner and as I neared the fire hydrant I noticed several bouquets of colorful flowers, stuffed teddy bears, and several dog toys now lay around the fire hydrant. I crossed the street with Buddy and approached the memorial. Someone had hand wrote a poem on a piece of cardboard and taped it to the top of the fire hydrant. The title read, “The Rainbow Bridge.” It was a poem about pets that cross over this bridge to find endless fields of green grass.
After breathing everything in, I turned away with tears in my eyes and started back across the street with Buddy. There is no way to truly comprehend mans’ ability to commit such heinous acts. As I walked farther away from the memorial, Merced appeared even uglier something I thought impossible. After arriving back home with Buddy, I returned to the fire hydrant with a Buddy Bone and placed it in-between the vibrant spring flowers. I wrote on the plastic baggie, “R.I.P. Innocent One.”
Quickly identified, the police arrested the butchers where they remained in custody for many months during their trials. Almost a year would pass before a conviction would keep the sub-humans jailed for another year. Over the months until the sentence was known the memorial remained. As the self-appointed caretaker, Buddy and my morning walk included removal of old flowers and repositioning stuffed animals.
Two years have passed, but the image of the innocent dog laying on the ground has become indelibly etched into my memory. To this day, every time I come around the corner and see the yellow fire hydrant, I think of the dog and the colorful memorial, I believe the entire neighborhood does as well.