It was a dark, wet, wintery night. I was in Year 12 at school and driving home from an evening debating event, still in my school uniform. It must have been around 9pm. Up ahead on the side of the road, between the rhythm of my windscreen wipers, and peering through a foggy screen, I saw the golden outline of something. The road was deserted. As I slowed down and approached I could see that it was in fact a large dog. A Golden Labrador.
Without any thought really (much to my father’s later disdain) I pulled over and got out to check this dog. He was an old Golden Labrador who clearly had just been hit by a car, and he was lying on the side of the road, alone and suffering. I crouched down and took him in my arms as my mind started to think about what to do next; Where to take him at this hour? Where would there be a vet clinic open? He was a rather fat lab too, so how would I lift him?
As my mind raced, something else happened. I felt this dog dying in my arms. He stretched out and his breathing changed; he groaned softly. I can remember a sense of calm flowing over me as I realized what was happening. So I just held him, nuzzled my face in to his stinky fur, my tears rolling, and I told him that it was ok. I told him that I was sorry that I couldn’t save him and I promised him that I would study ever so hard so that one day I could become a vet and save dogs like him.
Ever so gently I felt the life force leave his fat, wounded body and he became heavy and limp. I sat there holding him, by the side of the deserted road, crying over a dog I did not know. He had no collar or tag and there was nobody around. I sat with him for a few minutes, maybe a car or two passed by, I really didn’t notice.
Some time later I left his warm body on the pavement and continued my journey home. I was crying so hard that I could barely see.
People talk about epiphanies in life. Well that Golden Lab was one of mine. I had grown up wanting to be a vet, but was finding the study a challenge at school and was, at that time, doubting my ability to pursue my goal. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that it was meant to be that I witnessed the death of that Golden Lab on the side of the road on that dark cold night. I believe that God or the Universe or Spirit or whatever you choose to call it, led me there at that time, to bring love and comfort to this animal in his time of need. In return he gave me purpose, for it was in that moment that I knew my life’s destiny was to work and care for animals. It was in that moment that I found the strength and conviction to stick to my goals.
Today I wonder whose dog he was. Who else had cried over his death? Whether or not his body was ever found by his owner? I wish now that I had left a note, so that if they had found him that would have at least known that he died loved; he did not die alone; and his death was not in vain. For it was through his death that a young 16 year old girl became all the more determined to fulfill a life passion to become a veterinarian and dedicate her life to helping animals.