We had a little tragedy on our block last week. Martini, a black and white Pekinese mix who belonged to a neighbor three houses away, was struck and killed in broad daylight by a car whose driver didn't even bother to stop and see what he'd hit.
It has to be said that Martini would have been a dog at risk even in a neighborhood where all drivers kept to a reasonable speed, which in ours they don't.
Adventure loving, sociable and fearless, she scampered out the door whenever she could and wandered far and wide, ending up one time at a stranger's barbecue half a mile away because the food smelled so good.
Driving to the grocery store, I once came across her several blocks from home, sauntering along in the middle of the street as if it were her private path to joy.
I stopped, opened my passenger door and said, "Martini, get in here." She hopped up beside me, and I took her home, though she'd have gone cheerfully to Fargo with me if I'd been headed that way.
So Martini wasn't what a personal injury lawyer would call a "reasonably prudent dog". She never looked both ways, and I'm guessing she probably didn't look either way very often. More about the peculiar way lawyers think in a moment.
But Martini's heedlessness is no excuse for the driver who hit her if he wasn't making any effort to slow down and keep an eye out for living creatures.
A couple of rackety old sedans with clapped-out mufflers speed regularly past my house. They're at the top of my list of suspects. If it was either of them who hit Martini, they are contemptible hit-and-run dogslayers in my book.
In the face of the possibility that we have sociopaths like that driving daily past our houses, where many of us also have dogs and some have children, we decided to petition the village for a "Children Playing" sign or at least a posted speed limit.
My neighborhood is Ponderosa Heights on the slopes above Lawrence Brothers. It's full of blind curves and steep hills where you don't know what's ahead until you're over the crest.
I called the Street Department this week to see about what it might take to get some signage up to remind drivers they should slow down. It turned out to be pretty easy. I was told a work order would be prepared for posting of the speed limit in both directions -- 15 mph -- perhaps within a couple of weeks.
But we were told to forget about what we really preferred, the "Children Playing" sign.
A sly litigator supposedly argued with a straight face to somebody in authority that when the village puts up a "Children Playing" sign, it amounts to public notice that the children have village authority to play in traffic and the village assumes liability for anything bad that happens.
I'm a retired lawyer myself, but honestly, that's the kind of knuckle-headed thinking that would give my former profession a bad name if it didn't already have one.