I didn’t know anything about dogs. I only liked them, and thought they all walked beside you off-leash, like my friend’s dog. Another friend had a big old brown mutt named Fortune, and one evening I offered to take them both for a walk over to the corner store to buy some 7-Up. They heeled beautifully, straying from my side only to lift their legs on the young trees that lined the street, trees supported by sturdy poles and straps.
A busy four-lane street lay ahead, with the shop window glowing on the other side. It was dark enough that the cars had their headlights on, and I quickly saw the situation from a dog’s eyes: a blur of red and white lights, movement, some danger… go quickly to the other side!
And that’s what Fortune did. He darted into the traffic. Brakes squealed. Fortune squealed too as he was dragged beneath the wheels of a car for half a block. I think I screamed, and grabbed the other dog by the collar.
We got Fortune to the curb. I ran back to the house and got my friends and we ran back to where Fortune —alive— was bleeding.
Fortune survived, and they refused the twenty dollars I offered to help offset the vet fees (because I was a student and dead broke). Fortune would not run into traffic again, and I would not walk precious animals near giant killing machines unless the dogs were on a leash and safe.
I think of that friendly brown mutt, Fortune, whenever I hear the word. Can’t help it. I don’t think of wealth or good luck or private jets (which I think about often). Fortune the dog, so trusting, and I let him down, but he survived and forgave me… but sometimes I still kick myself around the block a few times for my unforgivable carelessness.