Tuesday, 20 December 2011


I decided to go for a run tonight. I went up to Kenwood House, and then down through Hampstead Garden Suburb. As I was approaching the A1, I came upon two women with an Alsatian dog ambling across a little area of dimly lit grass. I was slightly annoyed that the women didn’t try to bring the dog in line as I jogged past. I hate running past dogs. They often bark, or jump up, and I often find myself plagued by childhood memories of our nutty miniature long-haired dachshund, Sally, who used to bite the ankles of joggers in parks.
I decided to cross the busy A1 at the traffic lights by the garage where the road forks up to East Finchley. As I jogged on the spot, waiting for the lights to change, dancing slightly to “Moves Like Jagger” on my iPod, the women and the dog drew level with me. There was a lull in the traffic. I saw my opportunity and darted across the road.
The next thing I heard was a sickening thump and a scream. I turned round, thinking that one of the girls had stepped out in front of a passing vehicle, but saw instead the pitiful sight of the Alsatian howling by the side of a car which had screeched to a halt. I’ve never heard screams from a dog like that. He was in terrible distress. The two girls were in shock. One of them was standing on a little wall with her hands over her ears. She stayed like that for 2 minutes. The other simply ran away not knowing what to do.

The dog got up and ran – still yelping – towards more cars, which were playing dodge ball with him in the middle of the busy road. Fortunately, a sensible woman pulled over and ushered the dog towards her. The poor creature’s back legs weren’t looking too good, but he’d at least stopped crying.
Another woman appeared. “I’m from Dogs Matter” she said. It seemed very strange that she would appear at the scene of an accident so promptly, until I followed her pointing finger, and saw that there was, rather handily, a shop called “Dogs Matter” on the other side of the dual carriageway.

It transpired that neither of the two young women who had been with the dog had anything to do with him. They’d thought he was with me. The owner was nowhere to be found. The sensible woman carried the dog into the back of her car, and they drove off to find a vet, which left me to deal with the driver of the car who’d hit the dog and was in terrible shock. The poor woman had been completely ignored whilst everyone rushed around trying to deal with the dog, which had done a fair amount of damage to the front of her car. Little bits of bumper and headlight were strewn across the road, being smashed into ever smaller pieces by the passing traffic. I went over to her; “there was nothing you could have done, you know that don’t you?” She nodded, “and the dog looked like he was going to be okay” I said. She nodded hopefully. We went to have a look at the damage to her car and I gave her my phone number for insurance purposes.
She said she didn’t have far to travel, so I suggested she get herself a nice cup of tea, and sat down as soon as she got to where she was going. It’s weird when you’re out jogging with no phone or wallet. I felt rather helpless.

I hope the dog’s okay. I really do. And I hope there’s a reason other than neglect that it was wandering by the side of a busy road without its owners. I also hope that the woman who hit him is okay. That is not a nice thing to happen to anyone, but she seemed particularly kind, and terribly fragile.
350 years ago, Pepys had a lie-in before heading to a tavern with his bessie mate Henry Moore and a gentleman by the name of Mr Swan, who bored Pepys to death with his “old simple religious talk.” The “coxcomb” said he was going to write a book entitled “The unlawfull use of lawfull things” which Pepys thought was utterly pathetic. It was a dark night, so on the way home, the men were forced onto the relatively well-lit Cornhill. One assumes the back alleys would have been a haven for a) potential accidents and b) pick-pockets.

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