Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Chico The Wonder Dog!

--by rightnow, posted Feb 25, 2008
I live in Los Angeles now.  I drive a car now. Driving a car in Los Angeles can be a bit like running with the bulls in Pamplona. Crowded.  Frenetic.  Lots of horns.  And my mind can race with it—race to things I have to do, things I want to see, people to help, money to make, bills to pay, runs to take, emails to write, life to live.  Fast, unfocused, noisy.  On the worst days, ungenerous and unkind.  

And so it was as I drove down crowded Lincoln Boulevard not long ago.  I was driving the speed limit, on my way to a client--not late but not early—I needed to keep moving.  And suddenly, before I knew it, there was a small dog running out into the street.   Running right toward my car, I couldn’t swerve because of traffic—I slammed on the brakes, skidded, held my breath…and none of it did any good.   

I pulled over as soon as I could, about a half block from where I hit him.  In my rear view mirror, I’d seen a flash of a person running out into the street toward the injured dog.  I am now out of  my car, I’m upset, I’m trying to catch my breath, my hands to my head as I run toward the this man now holding this small dog in his forearm.

I get closer.  This Man.  He wears a cowboy hat, a cowboy shirt, straight-legged blue jeans, a big belt buckle and worn boots.  He is around 50 years old, a worn face, a mustache, tan, lived-in skin.  Our eyes meet.   He looks into me.   His eyes speak and then come his words and I’m struck by the steadiness of his voice.

“Son, this was not your fault, you hear me?  This was not your fault, I saw the whole thing, there was nothing you could do.”

His eyes refuse to leave mine.  This man I don’t know is…here with me.  With this dog.  I breathe.  My chest loosens a little.  I look down.  Blood drips from the Man’s fingertips.  The dog, big, brown eyes wide open, is breathing.  Barely.

“What’s…is he…?”  I don’t know what to say.  What do I say?   What do I do?   I was driving down the street on my way to a much-needed client one moment—in the middle of my mind--and a minute later I stare into the eyes of this Man and now this dying little dog that was under my car.  The Man’s voice, so soft and kind and steady as he gently strokes the dogs head.

“I don’t think he’s gonna make it.”, the Man says.

And I look at him and feel that this Man would know.  He just would know.  There is no judgement in his words or tone.  There just is.   With softness, kindness, compassion—for the dog, for me—he bears witness to the world in front of his eyes.

“Oh God.”  I choke.

“It’s not your fault, son”, the Man says.

I reach out and stroke the dog’s head.  It feels so strange.  To be comforting this little, lost dog.  But I look at the Man and realize that is all there is to do at this moment.  Pet him, talk to him, be kind to him.  And I so I do.  And immediately I my breath returns.  I can speak.

“It’s okay, little guy.  I know it hurts but it’s going to be okay.”    

A Woman’s voice behind us,  “I brought him some water.  He might want some water.”

I turn and the Woman stands there holding out a cup of water.  She obviously sleeps on the street.  She is dirty.  She wears several pairs of sweatpants and there are pieces of foam sticking out around her knees.  Her knuckles are scraped and knarled around the cup.  But her eyes!   Her eyes are bright.  Her face is soft and real.  She has brought the dog water.   I take the cup, our eyes meet, she looks into me.

“Thank you.” I say.  

“There’s a vet, a clinic, about a half mile back that way.” the Woman  says gently.   

I look back to the Man.  More blood drips off his fingers.

“I should, should I—where is he bleeding from?”  I ask.

“Oh, that’s not him, that’s me”, the Man drawls, “Poor guy bit me when I went to pick him up.  Animals will do that when they’re scared but I needed to get him out of the street.”  

Yes, animals will do that when they’re scared, I think.

“Put him in here.”  Woman has brought a cardboard box.  She wipes out some dirt.

The Man lays the dog in the box by the side of the road.  Traffic whizzes by as the three of us, strangers, in the middle of our lives five minutes ago, suddenly partners.   A long moment of silence as we simply sit with the dog.

“I’m gonna go clean up this hand.  Take a look at his tag.”  The Man is gone.

I turn over the dogs’ tag.  His name is Chico.  There is a phone number.  As the Woman talks to Chico, I make the call.  I am okay, I can do this.   Chico’s owner needs to know what happened.

No answer, I leave a message.

“Hi.  My name is Brian and I am so sorry to tell you this but I was driving down Lincoln Boulevard and Chico ran into the road and I hit him.  He is still alive and I am taking him to a vet clinic close by.  I will call you again from there.  I am sorry.”

The Woman looks up to me.

“He’s still breathin’.  Tough little guy, ain’t you, Chico.”  She smiles at me.  My God, she smiled at me.  In the middle of all this pain and confusion and chaos, all of which she clearly feels…she smiles.  And it is sweet and right and real.

I run to my car and back it up.  Together, myself and the Woman, we carefully pick up the box with Chico in it and put it in the front seat.  She gently buckles the seat belt over the box and shuts the door.

“Thank you” I say.  Her eyes look into me.

“Thank you for stopping.  A lot of people wouldn’t do that.  Believe me, I know.”

I offer her money for food.  She smiles but doesn’t take it.  

“Go on”, she says, “Get Chico to the vet.”   She squeezes my hand, turns, and limps away.    

I turn to my car and there is the Man.    

“How’s your—“

“Nothing to it, “  he says, holding up his bandaged hand.  “How’s he doing?”

“I’m gonna take him to the vet.  She, that woman, said there’s a vet just down the road that will help.”

“That’s good,” the Man says.

“I just want to…to thank you for...”  

He takes my hand in his and the world fades away.    

“Son.  You don’t lose a wink of sleep over this, you hear me?  This was not your fault.  This was not your fault—these things happen sometimes.  These things happen.  And we just do the best we can with them.  Understand?”

I nod.  He squeezes my hand a little tighter but his expression—this infinite pool of kindness and serenity—does not change.  He let’s my hand go and I turn to my car, open the driver’s side door and look up for him and---he’s gone.  In three seconds, he just disappeared.   

And this street, this sidewalk, this small part of the planet where we met—me, The Man and the Woman and little Chico—it’s now empty.  The traffic whizzes by.  I get in the car, close the door and look down.

“It’s gonna be okay, boy, I’m gonna take you to someone who will help you, okay?  It’s gonna be okay, Chico.”

I pull away from the curb and crack the window so Chico can get some air.  I dial my client and tell her I won’t be able to make it.   I look down at Chico.   He seems to be breathing a little better.  And then he lifts his head off the cardboard, his floppy ears dangling and he looks over at me.  He looks into me and I see the Man and the Homeless Woman and Chico says “thank you.  it’s going to be okay.”   

And that day, that experience -- those five minutes -- changed me.  Re-arranged me.  Kindness, compassion, wisdom and acceptance were no longer abstract concepts to understand -- they were real, rich, effective tools for living in world that can seem anything but welcoming.  They are gifts to be given and in this giving we receive.   

Thank you, Man and Homeless Woman and Chico and the water and the wind.   Thank you for showing me the way of love and kindness.  I will spread the word.
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Readers Comments

smilecards08 wrote: OH WOW, MY GOODNESS, THAT WAS VERY KIND!
Josh wrote: I cried when i read this story -sob sob-
Rayann wrote: An absolutely wonderful, beautiful story. My sweet dog, Boo got hit by a car 2 years ago and the person did not stop. My son went and got her. She died instantly, which in a way is a good thing. What you and the two strangers did was the right thing. Thank you for sharing.
shyk wrote: Wow! thats a good one, sometimes we fail to make the connection; to know what God might be telling us, or helping us to see when certain things happpen to us.
SG wrote: I as well want to know what happened to Chico!!!
ferris150142 wrote: A beautiful, beautiful story. I live in England now, and I've emailed the story to several people including a friend who lives in India, so it's getting around the world, isn't it?
amina ismail wrote: lets all love each other especially our enemies so God will ordain them righteously
Sig wrote: Fabulous story. Funny how things can change us in huge way's!! Mahalo for sharing, and God Bless you!
Portlander wrote: People drive too fast in the city all the time. I am almost hit in the park blocks daily. So he's going way too fast hits someone's dog and then has the audacity to offer them a bribe. On the way home he thanks his lucky stars that they did not call a cop and have him cited for reckless endangerment. He thanks his lucky stars the whole thing wasn't seen by some ambulance chasing liberal attorney with a mind for a lawsuit. Subconsciously or consciously he "spins" the facts so he looks like some kind of compassion-hero in his own mind and on his own blog. He inflates his "ego" (in the traditional negative sense of the word.) "Look at me aren't I compassionate?" After a week he resumes his traditional unsafe driving patterns. A year from then he hits a child in the crosswalk on his way to see, what was it? "An important client."

St. Sunshine wrote: Many thanks: Chico was just what I needed to snap out of my "me me me me" attitude today. I spread the word.

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