I've been thinking of the incident I'm about to describe since last morning, and just didn't feel like riding today.
I'm a newbie 50-year old road biker this year (an ex-long distance runner with 15 years of relative inactivity in between) and had happily been biking since July and improving in both speed and distance. But Sunday gave me a real wake-up call re: how suddenly a beautiful day on a bike can turn ugly.
I was going along the right side of a newly paved 2-lane secondary road on level ground at about 20 mph in a sparsely settled suburban neighborhood. Suddenly, I spot out of the corner of my left eye a golden retriever racing toward me from the yard to my left. Almost simultaneously, I was aware of an SUV going about 40 mph bearing down from in front of me. I realized what was about to happen, screamed "oh my ...", and heard an awful THUD followed by the yelping screams of the dog whose right hind leg had been torn off and insides exposed. I stopped, turned around, and watched the SUV (which had temporarily stopped) drive away.
Thinking the SUV driver was just going to bolt, I flagged down the first car to come upon the scene, and asked the driver to call the police and give them my description of the car. I realized it wasn't the driver's fault, but nobody should just leave after hitting a dog. There were 2 houses fronting the scene, and the neighbors came out to help. Within minutes, the police arrived and let me know that the SUV driver HAD called the police, thankfully, although the driver apparently couldn't stand to see the dog. The animal control officer arrived. I heard a couple of discouraging comments about the dog's condition, and decided to move on.
I still can't stop hearing that dog's pain. Sadly, the dog had no license and was loose in a town with a leash law; perhaps it had snuck out its owner's house door by accident (it was, according to the neighbors, from a house some distance away). I don't think it was going to attack me; I remember not fearing that at all. I remember reading a thread about a guy that had badly injured (somewhat accidentally) a pit bull that had attacked him. But this?? My first thought when I resumed riding was "what if I hadn't decided to ride this morning", following by my other thoughts: what if the dog had run out 2 seconds earlier, ran into me, knocked me into the oncoming SUV, etc. I'm still shocked by how quickly it all happened.
If there's one thing I would ask of anyone on this post that owns a dog along a well travelled road , it's to please either keep the dog leashed or get a "canine fence" (an electronic underground wire that does an amazing job of keeping your dog in your yard). Especially if you have kids that love the dog. And for the safety of other people as well.