Mystery of the wounded dog
Last Sunday morning my daughter Skye and granddaughter Riley set out from Carbondale to pick me up before heading over the Pass to visit my daughter Hillery and her husband Bruce in Leadville.At what I consider the predawn hour of 9 a.m., especially since it followed Helen Klanderud’s most astounding (!) birthday bash the night before, I was scurrying around making sure I had enough oxygen, water flask filled, jacket for higher altitudes and such.I was just noting that the Carbondale contingent was running late when Skye and Riley burst into the house, both in tears, Riley falling into my arms sobbing, “I hit a dog! I hit a dog!”Lest you be on tenterhooks as I was, I’ll tell you right away the dog survived.Unlike most kids her age (she is 16 1/2), Riley has not been in any hurry to get her driver’s license, content with her permit and supervised practice on back roads and only recently venturing out on the dreaded highway.She was especially (possibly prophetically) phobic about our roundabout, and was just cautiously making the turn into Aspen when a golden retriever flew out of nowhere and got clipped by the front bumper of the car.Skye: “She couldn’t have been going more than 15 miles per hour.”Me: “Is it dead?”Riley (sob): “There was FUR everywhere!”Me: “Is it dead?”Skye: “She thought she’d amputated its leg.”Riley: “I thought I’d find his FOOT in the FUR!”Me: “IS IT DEAD?”The dog was not dead, it ran off toward the Prince of Peace chapel with Skye and others who had had witnessed the event all in pursuit, but to no avail. That the dog was running on three legs led to Riley’s amputation assumption. Skye said she hadn’t noticed any fur.From the side of the road, Skye called Animal Control giving all the details. They thoughtfully called her back later that afternoon to report they had found nothing – no wounded dog, no trail of blood – and had received no inquiries.We all hope the dog’s leg wasn’t broken and that it had sustained no other injuries. If your retriever came home limping Sunday morning, that’s what happened to it and Riley would be relieved to hear about its condition – call me at The Aspen Times or e-mail email@example.com.After we all calmed down, we proceeded to Leadville. Riley declined to drive over the pass, but took over once Skye got to the bottom. Almost immediately we passed a squished porcupine on the road, further unnerving Riley, and then a whole HERD of bighorn sheep ran down the hill and stood milling around in the middle of the highway – luckily we saw them well in advance.The perils of mountain driving go beyond sharp curves and steep drop-offs. Not for the first time, I was happy to be a passenger and could identify with Riley, preferring to ride rather than being the “designated driver” on the way home.Su Lum is a longtime local who, years ago, hit a huge rabbit (it looked like a cross between Bugs Bunny and a deer) on the way to Santa Fe and still remembers the look in its eyes as it stopped just in time and then suddenly dove under the wheels. This column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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