In An Instant

In all my years of living in the country, driving skinny back roads through the woods and past expansive cornfields, dodging deer and the occasional ground hog, I’d never actually hit an animal.

Until this past Wednesday.

In fact, miraculously (and not to jinx them) no one in my family had ever hit a deer. So maybe we were due.

And for the record, I didn’t so much hit the deer as the deer hit me.

I was driving on a crowded country highway (we’d all detoured off of Route 81 for the daily wreck over there). I was following a tractor-trailer, going about 55mph, when out of nowhere (from my perspective), there was a loud bang and my windshield shattered all over me and my dog, Fanny.

Apparently (and this is according to the nice guy who saw it happen from the other direction, stopped, turned around, and came back to help me), the deer had run into the road, dodged the tractor-trailer, and then run smack into me, hitting the front quarter panel, smashing into my windshield, before flipping back over the side/top of my car (taking my side mirror with her), and landing in the opposite lane, dead on arrival (thank goodness).

I pulled my car over to the side and checked that Fanny was okay. She was, but we were both covered in tiny bits of windshield. By the time I got out, my good Samaritan and two other nice people had pulled over. Good Sam (I’m so sorry I didn’t get his name!) knew cars and checked under/around my little Honda Element and said the engine was fine, but I shouldn’t try to drive with that windshield. (I had no plans to.)

Then he (and his passenger and his rescue dog, a cute little brown and white dog he called a ‘squirrel dog’.) stayed with me as I called Triple A for a tow. He recommended a body shop in Woodstock that was just a few blocks from my house. Then, after the tow truck and my husband were both enroute, he asked me another dozen times if I was okay, and finally left.

As I waited, three more people stopped to see if I was okay, and the woman working at the V-Dot building whose driveway my car had come to land in, came outside and brought me a cup of water and  Fanny a bowl of water and said we were welcome to come in if I needed the restroom or anything else.

So many people have called, texted, or messaged via social media to ask if I’m okay. And you know what? I am. In fact, I’m more than okay. I’m grateful.

I’m grateful that we are okay.

I’m grateful my car will be okay (I love my Element and they don’t make them anymore!).

I’m grateful that I never saw that deer coming, so I was never scared and didn’t suffer the same physical pain I suffered from that crazy adrenaline rush I got in an accident twenty years ago when someone made an errant left in front of me and I t-boned them. After that accident, in which I was also fine, all my muscles ached for days.

I’m grateful that because I didn’t see the deer until it hit me, I didn’t slam on the brakes. Fanny was not tethered. I’ve gotten lazy about it because she hates it, but lesson learned, because if I had slammed on my brakes my dog could have been badly hurt or worse, since she was standing between the front seats with her head on my arm when the deer hit.

I’m grateful that the deer died instantly and didn’t have to suffer (and that someone stopped and moved it from the road).

I’m grateful that I live in a place where a dozen strangers stopped what they were doing to be sure I was safe and unhurt.

We’ve only lived here six months, but this accident showed me that I already have good friends I could have called if I hadn’t been able to reach Nick or if Triple A hadn’t come through. And beyond that I have a community of friends who care about me (and my dog) whose outpouring of concern has been overwhelming.

I am fine. But thank you—all of you—for caring so much. I’m grateful for you.

I’m grateful for one more thing—the reminder that life is precious and I need to appreciate every moment because that could all change in an instant.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.



My latest novel, Blind Turn is a mother-daughter story of forgiveness in the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident. Learn more about it and find out how to get your copy here.

If you’re curious about what else I’m up to, check out my website,

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

And If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog. And if you want to know what is really happening in the animal shelters in this country, visit, Who Will Let the Dogs Out.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at

My book, 100 Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues was released July 2020 from Pegasus books and is available anywhere books are sold, but if you’d like some help finding it (or want to read some lovely reviews), click here.

Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at

4 thoughts on “In An Instant”

  1. Most of all, I’m glad you and Fanny are OK. Deer are like cats. There are no deer then suddenly BAM. It’s awful and it’s THE reason I’m not crazy about driving at night out here in fall and spring. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad you or Fanny weren’t injured! My newly adopted dog, Jack, we’re getting gas and I decided to “give him air, “while I filled up my gas tank. He decided to follow me into the gas station store by jumping out the window. I turned around to see him hanging by the seat belt j had tethered to his harness along side the car (🏀thankfully not to his neck), and the seatbelt kept him from falling splat onto the ground! I too am grateful he was safe and not injured.

      Liked by 1 person

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