I was a member of the Beta Club during my junior and senior years of high school. Service projects were an important part of the club’s mission statement, and one of those projects changed my life. It happened early one Saturday morning during my junior year. Some of the club’s members met at our high school to pick up trash along the side of the road.
As we walked down the roadside, our bags quickly filled up with litter. Suddenly, a big black Labrador retriever ran out of a yard and headed straight toward us. He was very friendly and tagged along with us from then on. None of us was really watching him as he darted back and forth across the two-lane road of our rural town – traffic had been light that morning. But I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.
A few minutes later, we heard the loud screeching of brakes and the sickening crunch of a collision. It was the worst sound I have heard in my entire life. The moment seemed to play out in slow motion; I looked around just as the dog was thrown under the car. The car, a silver Jeep, stopped, but I do not remember if the driver even got out. I just stood there in shock and disbelief. The dog, who only a few moments before had been happily bouncing along and taking in the world through each smell, now laid in the road before me, twitching with the last hints of life.
A garbage truck happened to be traveling in the lane beside the Jeep and had stopped at the sight of the accident. The driver got out of the truck and after some consideration, he picked up the dog’s body and tossed him in the back of the truck. I will never forget that sight, the dog’s limp body, now just a tangle of lifeless limbs being thrown away like the trash at the bottom of our bags.
I believe that every life should be cherished and that no life is worthless. People should care for the world and everything in it as much as they do for themselves. I wish now that I would have paid more attention to that dog, or at least returned him to his home, if he had one, when he first started to follow us. Then maybe he would still be experiencing the true happiness that, for him, ended all too soon.