Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The day we killed a dog in Aomori

This is a story from my sordid Salaryman past that I have been thinking about posting for a few years but never really gotten around to it, partly because I want to make the story justice and partly because it involves the painful death of a little dog which really isn't funny... Just for the record, I probably should state that I'm quite the animal lover (leaning more towards cats than dogs, but like dogs too).

I was travelling in the northern prefecture of Aomori (just below the Hokkaido island) with one of the sales reps that I knew very well and was very friendly with. We had just finished one hospital visit and were heading towards a local Izakaya (Japanese pub/restaurant) for a "grease them up with a free dinner and booze" type of business dinner with our main distributor in the prefecture. As the place was on the other side of the town and we were running a bit late my colleague told the taxi driver to get there fast (although it should be mentioned that it was a quite mild request and not an order for the driver to burn the rubber, break any and all traffic laws and/or drive like a maniac).

The driver was a happy little camper (although you need to picture an old man since all taxi drivers in Japan seem to be around their 70's) and happily obliged, engaging my colleague in talking about how he surely could get us there on time as he knew all the fastest hidden routes through the city. He was driving quite fast through smaller streets, but I didn't really think about it as the speed wasn't obscene or felt dangerous.

It was getting darker outside, although still in the early stages of twilight and the driver was happily chatting with my colleague as he drove in on a smaller street next to a park. All of a sudden I register a shadow in my peripheral vision, coming fast out from the park towards the car, before I could think anything else there was a distinct bump and a crushing sound as something went under the front wheel and then repeated on the back wheel... At this point I'm honestly not sure if I actually heard that cracking sound of bones breaking or if is my imagination who filled that part in for my memory.
Then a female voice screamed out "Fifi! No!!!" in a voice filled with terror. The taxi came to a grinding halt and I remember how I felt wet with cold sweat and thinking "Please tell me we didn't just hit a kid". I looked back through the back window and saw a woman with a desperate expression hunched over a small brown dog that yelped in pain mixing with the crying of the woman.

I looked at my colleague who probably looked as stupid as me with an open mouth and an expression of shock, something that likely was just a fragment of what the driver felt. As the taxi driver feebly opened the car door to see what had happened the female voice screamed at him "You! What have you done to my dog!?", now mixing the terror with a good amount of fury. I could see the dog moving it's head but with the lower half not moving, I didn't feel like looking closer and thankfully the woman was covering that part of the dog. But I realized that we had likely run over the lower half of the dog, breaking any bones in there and making a nasty painful mess of the intestines and that the dog was as good as dead only it would take some time of horrible pain for it to get there...

I looked at my colleague and we exchanged a wordless "what the hell do we do now?!", after a few seconds he said "let's get out of here". By this time the woman was screaming at the driver and he looked completely helpless, standing a few meters from the nasty scene, no longer the happiest taxi driver in Aomori. My colleague quickly pulled out the money that the meter showed and put it on the driver's seat and we got out of the car, quickly withdrawing with a quick "we're good here, the money is on the seat, thank you" to the driver who likely didn't hear a thing. And we sneaked away in the shadows and didn't bother getting another taxi.
 

Not my proudest moment, the most merciful thing to have done would have been to put the dog out of its misery, but I wouldn't be able to do that to a little cute dog, and I feel quite sure that the woman would not let any of us come close to the dog. So in hindsight, I'm not sure if we could have done anything more useful. Sure, the driver was to blame to some extent as he was driving over the speed limit but the woman should have kept the dog on a leash as well.

As we walked away into the night I said to my colleague "for a while there, I thought it was a kid we had hit...", still white in the face, he just nodded showing that the same thought had struck him. We didn't talk about the incident anything during the evening as it might have put a little shadow over the "grease them up dinner"... I have no idea what happened in the end, but I would guess that the taxi driver took the woman and the dog to a veterinary in his taxi, but I don't think that there was much that could have been done to save the dog. 

Being a Salaryman in Japan is not all fun and games...

6 comments:

Chris said...

I'm a big animal lover and I know dogs not on fenced in property need to be on leashes whenever cars are near. Sad that the dog had to pay for that woman's stupidity

canthushme said...

Its a shame...and it really scars you. Some years back I was drivin on a highway at 120 Kms/h and saw how a rather big dog tried to cross the street...the guy infront of me hit his back part making the dog spin and just end up flant on the pavement not being able to move. I was too fast and was to close to make a quick reaction and I really couldn´t turn the wheel without making things worst with all the cars around me. I gave the dog the final blow...I swear I could see the dogs face miliseconds before Y struck him woith the full force of the car and I am sure I saw fear...poor guy...I could only look throught the mirror and see his body tumbling while another car behind me made the things more bloody. When I got home I was able to see the damage...poor dog's blood was splatter on the licence plate and the plate was all bend. It really is a terrible experience

aimlesswanderer said...

Oh dear, certainly a dampener on any dinner afterwards...

I've taken out a bird or two on a freeway, and have slowed/swerved to avoid a few dogs and possums.

kathrynoh said...

OMG I was nearly crying as I read this. Poor dog. Poor dog owner.

Mr. Salaryman said...

Chris - Yeah, I think it was an accident waiting to happen and that day was just the day that the luck didn't hold up anymore

Canthushme - Not very nice at all, not much that can be done about it in a situation such as that, but not a fun thing to go through

Aimless - Well, it was a "grease them up with booze and food" business dinner, so we kept up our happy faces!

Kathrynoh - Indeed, no winners or happy faces after that!

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