To The Person Who Killed Our Dog – You Killed A Family Member

To the person who killed our dog:

Nico Karatchuk, April 2, 2001 – April 22, 2017.

His name was Nico.

If you’re going to kill someone, you should know their name. And Nico was a someone. Not a something. A “something” is disposable. Like a tissue.

On April 22, 2017 – before 11:11 p.m. – you killed Nico on Highway 68 – west of Highway 8. You left no skid marks and made no attempt to swerve. Otherwise the trail of blood would read different.

You left Nico – dead – in the middle of the highway. Across my parents’ house. And you didn’t have the decency to inform them. To prepare them.

My dad heard the thump when you struck Nico – even with closed windows and through concrete walls. You didn’t hear the thump? Through thin steel and cheap plastic? And you didn’t see a yellow Labrador Retriever in your headlights.

Dad raced to the highway, and he’ll be forever haunted by the scene you left. I’ll spare my readers the details, because they didn’t kill Nico.

You did.

Nico deserved better. We thought Nico would follow in the paw-prints of our dog, Patches, who had a soap opera-like passing under the caraganas. That’s the fairy tale ending Nico deserved to his fairy tale life. Loved, pampered and spoiled. Dad even fed Nico fish every day to keep his coat shiny.

Every family trip, the worry wasn’t – who’s going to check the mail and water the plants. It was, “Who’s going to take care of Nico?” Someone had to feed, water and keep Nico company.

Nico embodied loyalty and friendship with a puppy-like playfulness – even at 16 years and 20 days old. He slowed down. Which makes the 100-foot trek to that dark highway baffling. But he’d still paw your lap when you opened the car door. Wagging that tail. So happy to see company.

Nico thought he was a person. He’d poked his little nose into everything – auction sales, barbecues, my little sister’s wedding. Watching over us like a supervisor. Like an overseer. Like a protector.

And on April 22, 2017, you tore him away.

Mom called at 11:11 p.m., and when she said Nico was hit by a car – and he was dead – I slipped into denial. I said, check the barn again. Maybe Nico was sleeping somewhere else. Even when I saw the carnage on the road that night – I didn’t believe it was true. As my husband and I drove down the driveway, our headlights reflected off a bloodied bedsheet. On the grass by the hydro pole. As my dad made a casket for his best friend. Close to midnight.

No one should be making a casket for their best friend. Ever. No one’s mom should be shaking from shock.

And where were you? The person who killed Nico. On April 22, 2017 at 11:55 p.m. Because I sure as hell doubt you were watching your father place what was left a cherish family member into a casket. Propping Nico’s little face so he was comfortable. Placing a pair of PJ bottoms under Nico’s head.

I had a moment alone with Nico’s casket. Burning hot tears streaming down my cheeks. Staring at his furry face, I kept saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” And I remembered my Baba Karatchuk’s funeral where people crossed themselves because they were “sorry.”

And I crossed myself. I’m not even Catholic. I’m not even religious. I’m not even sure if I did it right. But I was sorry Nico’s death was harsh. Cruel. Senseless. Even you have to admit, no animal deserves a middle-of-the-road death. In the dark.

Nico was so afraid of the dark, he had a nightlight where he slept in the barn. And dad placed solar lights around Nico’s casket. And then I watched my dad cry. You – the person who killed Nico – made my dad cry. If that doesn’t trigger guilt or some shred of decency for you to come forward, perhaps this will:

You were driving a late-model, red wine-coloured vehicle. And your vehicle was dirty. You have a smashed, black, front spoiler. And you’re missing pieces. But you know that already.

Nico was buried at the foot of a tree – and his grave is a blue solar light, which lights up the entire Elm. Dad played Nico “Where The Roses Never Fade” by The Whites. Fitting, because Nico’s grave faces a flowerbed mom could never keep him out of.

I’m pleading with you to confess. Although it won’t bring Nico back, you can partly close a wound. They lift a weight from a your shoulders. Balance the your conscience.

However, if you’d rather not confess? And remain silent and anonymous. If you believe no one will ever find out?

Well, that’s between you and karma.

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