Sad day at the Circus, another furry friend left us.

I have spoken of Willa, “the wandering dog” on occasion. She was the little rescue who helped me over the trauma of my first son leaving for Africa, then a mystery illness and the death of two beloved family members. She was right by my side for a year. I had always been a cat person; I only had one other dog as an adult. She is responsible for me crossing over to the dog-person side.

Willa’s devotion to me was superseded only by her wanderlust. She wanted to run free so badly and did so every chance she got. Walking was never a suitable option for this girl. Even if I could have run with her, it would not have been at a speed she chose.

Every time she got the chance to escape — she took it.

This morning, while I letting the two cats out, Willa found a gap in the door large enough to squeeze out. She stood on the porch for just a few seconds then bolted in the direction of the road. I called and clapped and tried to whistle, but nothing slowed her down. About half way down the driveway she did a little jump as if for joy at the freedom she had discovered on such a beautiful morning.

I chased down the driveway in my pajamas. She was out of sight by the time I got to India Road.

It has been the drill, in times past, that I would get in my car and go looking for her. Many neighbors have called or brought her home for us. She gained the reputation of the little friendly white dog who never met a stranger. She enjoyed soccer practice at Trinity Christian School, played for an afternoon with the dogs in Mickey Groom’s back yard, entertained day care kids, chased countless cats and made many friends with the people in my neighborhood. Today’s escape didn’t turn out well at all.

Willa was hit by a car after following my sweet friend, Tammi Justice, on a run. Tammi didn’t know she belonged to us. Poor girl witnessed the whole thing.

I got the phone call like I have so many times before starting with, “Do you have a little white dog?” only this time it wasn’t followed with a house number to come to. This time it was bad news. I had to give the phone to my husband. Caller said it didn’t look good.

Turns out my little Terrier was no match for an SUV.

The next few hours are a blur of tears. She was taken to “Dr. Jere” here in Opelika. We knew if there was anything that could be done, he would be the one to do it. She slipped away in his office. Sweet Jere Colley comforted my husband by offering to come bury her. What a kind and thoughtful man he is.

To say the least, I am devastated. My little girls are, too. My sweet hubby hasn’t said too much except, “A puppy raised here probably wouldn’t be prone to run like that.”

My son borrowed his friend Brandon’s kitten to comfort us for the evening. She has done her job, but she can go back home now.

I have forever been changed into a dog person.