Gretel and the family Volkswagen

I began my career in a small town and as was common at the time found myself on emergency calls frequently. One such Sunday afternoon I received a panicked call from the owner of a German shepherd. They had been working in their yard on a beautiful afternoon. To allow Gretel to enjoy the day they tied her leash to the bumper of the family Volkswagen. All was well and the husband needed to run to the store for some yard supplies. To the horror of his wife, he forgot that Gretel was still attached to the car.
The wife screamed on the phone to please come quickly. I told them I would meet them at the hospital and jumped in my car.

I arrived shortly before the family and the Volkswagen. I was relieved to see the dog walking out of the car. The husband was white as a sheet and the wife rushed to me with tears streaming down her cheeks. “The leash didn’t break until he hit second gear!”
I tried to calm them down as I began examining Gretel. She was a sweetheart, trying to kiss my face as I looked at her abraded foot pads. Her physical exam showed only the effects of the pavement scraping the bottom of her feet. I had done much the same during college by playing too much basketball on Saturday mornings.

I explained the minor nature of the injuries and set about cleaning and dressing all four feet. During this time I did my best to ease the guilt of the husband and relax the harried couple. As I began to lighten the atmosphere I asked them if they had seen the recent movie Vacation where a similar situation had a much worse fate for the family dog. They had and I could sense the lessening of the tension. The husband finally began to relax. We talked some more as I finished and he calmly leaned toward the wall as the guilt and embarrassment faded. Unfortunately, the wall was a couple of feet to his right and he leaned into a swinging door. Have you ever seen an accident where it looked like it was happening in slow motion and you still couldn’t stop it? I reached to grab him but missed by inches as he fell flat on his back. Now I have to admit, my first emotion was laughter but I struggled to contain it. His wife however made no such attempt. Shortly thereafter we were all three sitting on the floor with tears streaming down our cheeks. I am sure Gretel was quite confused by all of this as she moved among us. About a year later, perhaps around the anniversary of the accident I received a copy of the movie Vacation and a picture of Gretel. The movie was a great reminder of a well spent Sunday afternoon.

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