Simba looked pensively at the grey matter that was between him and the green grass where plenty of butterflies flapped around, waiting for him to chase around aimlessly. This grey matter, the humans called it ‘road’, was one of the most dreaded landscape features for dogs. Almost every one of them had lost a friend or relative to road.
The road itself was not the problem, it was the strangely shaped objects that humans sat in to move along the road. Car, that’s what they were called.
One of the neighbourhood dogs with a dotting owner had told a horror story of how he’d been on a trip inside the car with his owners and had witnessed one of his own kind wander into the road and get crushed by the car they were travelling in. Just like that. The unfortunate dog had entered the road out of nowhere and it’d been too close to slow down. Road was the number one killer of the dog population and all the young ones were advised to avoid it at all costs.
But Simba didn’t get what the fuss was all about. Road looked clear. He glanced to the right, then to the left and saw no approaching car. He looked across at the field and it’s like the butterflies were flapping even more vigorously. The urge was strong. He’d just tell his mum he’d been playing at the neighbours if she asked where he’d been.
He checked both sides of the road again and after letting a boda that had appeared pass, trotted across while checking for any surprise cars. Midway the crossing, he had an alarmed woof from his mother. He finished the crossing while glancing backwards and telling her that he was going to be alright, but she was having none of it.
She sprinted towards road while anxiously barking at him to get back to their side. He looked at both ends of road and noticed a car approaching very fast from the left side. He yelled at his mother to wait for the car to pass but instead, she accelerated, readying herself to leap across road and save him.
He yelled some more.
She came even faster telling him to stay put, she was coming to save him.
WTF, I’m alright! You are the one that’s about to get killed.
Stay where you are or I’ll kill you myself after saving you, she yelled back as the distance between her and road shrunk.
What’s wrong with you, there’s a car approaching that’s going to knock you down!!
She leapt into the road, the car reached the exact spot at the same time with a screech of tires as the driver attempted to slow down, Simba peed on his leg as he was too freaked out to lift it, the butterflies stopped flapping, time froze…
…and then Simba heard the thud as his mom fell, lifeless, into the second half of the road. The car stabilised and continued on while Simba, still frozen, looked at his motionless mum.
He’d killed her. No, she’d killed herself. All she had to do was look left and right before crossing. As a tear started making its way down his face, he noticed his mum move and he felt his heart jump. Could it be? It could, and it was. She got on her four feet and started trotting towards him, but there was a pained look in her eyes.
My tail, she whimpered, I think it’s broken.
In that moment, watching his mother come back to life, he knew his calling in life was to teach the other dogs how to cross road.
Look left, look right, cross if road is clear. Simple! How hadn’t they figured this out in their entire existence?
*Inspired by all the dog carcasses you find littered on Ugandan roads. Not sure if it’s the same in other countries. How have they not figured it out after all these years? Even sheep are better at this.