Hit a dog on the way home tonight - the car is fine, but I did clip the dog in the midst of slamming on my brakes at 60 MPH. He ran out in front of me, from a shadowed ditch, with no warning. I heard that soft sickening thump of flesh yielding to physics, and it flew across the inside lane and into the median. I pulled the car over, shaking, sat there for a bit and went back.
He was still alive, still looking up at me, bright eyes watching me. A medium-large dog, probably 80 pounds or so. Too big for me alone to feel comfortable approaching - a wounded animal is a dangerous thing - and definitely too big for me to bundle up and put into the car alone. It panted. I stared at it. It watched me, not whimpering, alert, seeming calm. I went back to my car, unsure what to do. I looked back. It was standing up. I went back to the dog. It had moved perhaps ten feet and was lying down again, still in the median. I walked up to the house that bordered the road.
Middle-aged couple, and granddaughter. Not their dog. Not anyone's dog around there, that they knew. There are a lot of wild dogs. He looked at me, dandling a five-month-old on his knee. "I'll go out and see how it's doing, later. If it's still there, if it's in bad shape I'll put it down and bury it." She looked at me - I think she saw the tears. "You did a good thing, coming to tell us. We'll take care of it."
Dusk fell while I was in the house, the smooth and sudden transition from grey twilight to dark. I had to walk past where it was, to get to the car, but across two lanes and in the dark there was only a black form on a green-black field. From where I was, I couldn't see if it was watching me.
It got up, it moved, it walked. I was going at least 45 when I hit it. They said they'd see to it. What should I have done?