Collision with a Dog

On a cloudy day in October 1995, I was riding my bicycle north on Ridge Road, the little back road that divides Northumberland and Richmond (Virginia) counties. I was traveling fast, propelled by a southerly breeze. All summer, I'd engaged in a struggle of power and speed with a couple of obnoxious dogs. They lived at an old farmhouse just off the road and spent their days unsupervised and bored.

dogchasingbikeFor a country dog, a human being on a bicycle is as thrilling as garbage day is for a city dog. It's THE major event in his life. There were two of them at the farmhouse--a dachshund and some sort of collie mutt. Usually I was riding into the wind when I passed their house, so I was out of range before they got wind of me. Still, they took after me growling and snapping, barking, and running at top speed, but I was faster and always outran them. That October day, as I approached the farmhouse, I saw the collie mutt heading toward me. He meant business.

He went for my front wheel. I remember thinking "uh oh." That was the last thing I remembered until I heard a woman's voice saying, "I just came upon her lying under her bicycle. I think she was hit by a truck." As I floated up through the blackness, I wanted to ask "Where am I?" but that seemed so trite that I rattled off my phone number and asked her to call Ted instead. I had no idea where I was or what had happened to me, but I could tell that my right shoulder hurt like the devil and I had a bodacious headache.

Ted showed up and after a while a different female voice said something about a scoop stretcher. A male voice noted, "She has her helmet good and tight." I heard the female voice say "deformity of the right clavicle." Strong hands rolled me like a log, sending breathtaking pain into my neck and arm, then "no obvious injuries on her back." Questions were asked. Ted provided answers. I babbled something about not knowing how old I am. Somebody trussed me up tight with straps and a collar.

Mid-County logoThen I heard the male voice: "Mid-County 42 to 7812. En route to Rappahannock General." I was in a moving vehicle and motion felt like a hot poker in my head. My shoulder screamed with pain. I began to remember what happened and I moaned "Damn dog!" I heard the female voice: "Mid-County 42 to Rappahannock General. En route with female involved in a bicycle accident. Possible head injury. Deformity to right shoulder..." This was my first encounter with the local volunteer rescue squad. It was an encounter that led to ten years of challenge, tears, laughter, despair, joy, fear, confidence, and friendship.