“I’ll make a deal with you buddy. You let me sit here through this tornado, and I promise not to bite you!” This is what some of the staff in Forney imagined a dog to say who unexpectedly decided to ride “shotgun” in a city vehicle. Today, that dog is my teacher and he/she reminds me of something that should never be forgotten.
Amidst the storm, a City employee left his vehicle door open while he rushed into a building, and then back out, before the tornado struck. Upon seeing the black funnel loom into view, he sprinted to the car, dove inside, shut the door, and rammed the thing into drive. Suddenly, and to his right, he was aware of a being who had not been there before: a large blue-eyed dog staring right at him. Having neither time nor interest in shooing the dog out, he sped away from the tornado, the dog riding shotgun. Word is that the employee and the dog spent the rest of the day and night together as he, along with all city employees, responded to the crisis.
The army of tornadoes that tore through north Texas recently wreaked destruction in the Kaufman county city of Forney. An entire subdivision was destroyed as furniture, cars, pianos, and motorcycles were swept away and left in thousands of tiny pieces. A grandmother protected her grandchildren by using the bathtub as a fortress. One Forney staff member bolted from his car for the protection of a building only to look back and see his vehicle lifted up like a toy Matchbox car by the ferocious funnel and pitilessly dumped in a field two hundred yards away. Miraculously, there were no fatalities.
That evening, I knew what the newscast was going to show. It’s always the same; homeowners sifting through the rubble looking for photos and precious items passed down from parents or grandparents. And all who have experienced something like this always utter the same phrase: “things can be replaced.”
City Manager Brian Brooks and HR Director Leigh Corson told me the dog story a few days after the storm and I laughed at the vision of this big ole canine diving into the car and staring at the driver. I can only imagine that both the driver’s and the dog’s eyes were as wide as saucers. Perhaps the dog was saying: “what are you waiting for buddy, can’t you see that a tornado is coming?” Perhaps, like I said up top, he was promising not to bite in exchange for shelter. But what I really think was going on was something age-old, a need that we humans share with each other, as do dogs; the need to belong with each other, for shelter, for affiliation, for survival: both physical and emotional.
Today, I’m thinking about expressing my appreciation to those whom I share my private and work life. I’m sure the City employee was grateful to share a night with a blue-eyed dog.