Carroll: A dog, a Porsche and an Aspen news story |

Carroll: A dog, a Porsche and an Aspen news story

In today’s letters-to-the-editor section, a writer refers to Saturday’s article about the dog that was struck and killed by a car as a “non-story.”

While it certainly was a non-story to the letter writer, Bill Bernstein, he still took the time to pen a letter criticizing the dog’s owner for not having it on a leash at the time it was hit.

You’ll get no argument here that there are more significant stories for us to cover — the November midterm elections, education, the environment, the economy,and so on.

But the article, “Aspen man urges drivers to slow down after loss of dog,” touched on issues that are very near and dear to many Aspen readers’ hearts — dogs, crosswalks and Porsches.

The story was prompted by a guest opinion submitted to The Aspen Times by resident Michael David Cook, who recounted the day his 13-year-old black Labrador, Jessie, was struck and killed by a Porsche Cayenne, driven by a 29-year-old woman, in the crosswalk at Gibson Avenue and Walnut Street. Cook’s wife, his daughter, Jessie and another Lab were walking across the street. Jessie was not on a leash and was hit by the Porsche. And Cook, the writer, wasn’t there to witness the Aug. 31 tragedy.

“I believe everything happens for a reason, although I can’t imagine what the reason could be. I do know the reason for me not being there when it happened: to keep me out of jail,” he wrote.

Cook’s passionate contention was that people in Aspen are in too much of a hurry, and it was that collective mindset that proved the death knell for Jessie.

Many of the comments posted on both the story and Cook’s commentary piece, however, took issue with the dog not being on a leash. Had it been on a leash, the dog would still be alive today, people contended.

Truth be told, nobody knows the answer. It’s all speculation at this point, and the damage has been done.

While Bernstein, the letter writer, said this was a non-story, that might mean some other readers felt the same way. And it won’t be the first non-story we’ve been accused of publishing.

Indeed, you won’t find these types of stories — presented on such a grand scale — in the larger metro dailies. And even some small-town papers might ignore them.

But Cook raised a good point — that people are in such a damned hurry around here. And I agree — the “Relax, it’s Aspen” bumper sticker smacks of false advertising.

Judging from the reader response and the popularity of the story — the article was one of our most read pieces last week — there was a large level of interest. That’s likely because it was the type of story many of us can relate to: We either own dogs or have experienced our own brushes with Dale Earnhardt wanna-bes. And there are some dog owners who apparently have an aversion to leashes because, well, their pet is above reproach. That’s not to say that was the case with Jessie’s owners, but we’ve surely encountered dog owners with that attitude.

This was small-town news at its finest, or worst, as the case may be. More compelling, however, is that we don’t see these stories more often.

Rick Carroll is editor of The Aspen Times. He takes comments, complaints, questions and news tips at

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