When yellow labs attack …

There’s always something to be learned from even the most unfortunate circumstances.  Last night, cruising in the car near sunset, my black Mercedes 300D was whacked by a dog.  No, I didn’t hit him — he hit me.

The dog, a yellow labrador, was off leash and ran out onto Broadway, which is a busy five-lane thoroughfare in Tucson.  He crossed the centerline and actually rammed my car on the driver’s side front fender.  I saw only a brief glimpse of him and then — WHAM! — and my first thought was, “Oh no, I’ve just killed a dog.”

But he wasn’t killed.  He bounced off the car, and ran back across the roadway.  I stopped, but again I only got a glimpse of the dog as he high-tailed it back to the side of the road.  I grabbed a piece of door trim that had been ripped off the car and then made the first possible U-turn back to the scene.

mercedes-300d-dent-1.jpgThere I found a lady who was holding the dog by the collar and petting him reassuringly, while talking on her cell phone to the owner (the dog had good tags).  He appeared not only completely uninjured, but quite happy about his circumstances, doing all the usual yellow lab things like grinning foolishly and panting and inviting me to pet him too.   There was some concern that the dog might have a concussion, especially after we got a good look at the large dent his head put in the steel fender of my tank-like Mercedes, so when the owner arrived we encouraged him to take the dog to a vet for a good check.

But really, he’s a yellow lab.  Does he even have a brain to bruise?   (I’m going to get grief from my friend Al B for that remark.  He trains yellow lab puppies for Canine Companions for Independence. But those dogs are carefully bred and selected for ability.)

mercedes-300d-dent-2.jpgWell, I hope he’s OK.  He seemed like a nice dog, even if not too savvy about traffic. And I suspect his owner has learned a lesson too.

But wouldn’t you know, the damage estimate came in at $785, which will not be covered by insurance since I carry only liability on that car.  So now I have a good reason to have a chat with the dog’s owner.  At the time of the incident I got only a phone number, because (stupidly enough) I didn’t have a working pen in the car.  We were in a hurry to see the dog off to a vet, so I didn’t press further.

Thanks to the scary miracle of the Internet, that was sufficient.  With a few minutes of careful Internet searches, I was able to turn up not only the owner’s name and address, but also:

  • personal and office email addresses
  • religious associations
  • mailing address
  • colleges and degrees, including GPA from undergrad and his current program of study
  • photographs
  • names of some friends
  • where he had lunch last week

Yes, it doesn’t take much to leave a big footprint on the Internet.  (I’m sure mine is far larger than I want it to be.)  But with Facebook, Twitter, mySpace, etc., some folks are especially discoverable.  The relevant info will go to my insurance company and they’ll see about getting some compensation for the damage.

In the meantime, I have decided to take the 300D to Palm Springs tomorrow as planned.  I was able to reattach the door trim with new clips from the local dealer, and with that in place the rest of the damage isn’t terribly embarrassing.  The paint is mostly OK, and this is the desert anyway, so rust won’t be a big issue.  I’ll get it fixed in a couple of weeks.  If you are coming to Modernism Week to see the Vintage Trailer Show, please avert your eyes from the driver’s side front fender and help me pretend that my car didn’t just get rammed by a hard-headed labrador.