Keep your dog on a leash!

Had been working so much recently I didn't have time to do anything. Work out, read, watch TV (about 50 hours of shows taped on that thing--I thought it was supposed to reduce the amount of TV you watch), return personal e-mail or phone calls, sleep, and stuff like that. Today I slept in like a log, then went to the office to try and keep up with a big project and to attend a meeting. Afterwards, it was still light out, and I really had to get out on my bike. It had been two weeks since I got my heart rate above 70. I had to get out on my bike. I had to get out on my bike.
Rushed into gear, then sprinted across to Mercer Island at about 6pm to try and take advantage of the remaining sunlight to get one quick loop in. Just across the bridge, then up the hill, and then I headed down the hill by the two baseball parks (you Mercer-ites know where that is). Just as I began picking up speed, I spied a mother walking with a stroller and a young child along side her a ways down the path. I moved to the right, and they moved to the other side of the path. Then, I was going about 22 mph, and out of the bushes and shrubs at the right a large, grey dog sprinted out of the bushes. It remains in my memory now as a vague grey blur in the shape of a dog, like a vision illuminated for a nanosecond in the darkness.
Visually I don't remember the next few seconds. I hit the dog and went over the bars, and my next conscious thought (I don't think I went unconscious) was waking up in the bushes, rolling around in pain. I felt it in two places. My right cheekbone, and my right shoulder. My vision was a little blurry, and I was hurting. I tried to stand up, and found that I was in the bushes. Lying on my back, I could make out shapes and light and darkness as I stared straight up at what I knew from experience was a grey, cloudy sky.
The lady who owned the dog called 911, and in what seemed like 5 minutes, I heard an ambulance wailing, and then I saw a circle of firemen and emergency workers looking down at me as if I were a campfire they needed to start.
They wanted to immobilize me. I said my neck is fine, please don't immobilize me. They won and soon my neck was in a harness. They did that thing where they roll you onto a board on the count of three and strap you to it like a trophy fish. I couldn't move my head because of the neck brace and because they taped my forehead back to the board.
Then I'm off to the hospital resigned to looking straight up at the sky, then at the lights on the roof of the ambulance. Then I'm lying on a hospital bed, still strapped to that board like Ahab to Moby Dick. They left me there for what felt like a half hour, and soon I had a pulsing headache from the spot on the back of my skull which was taped so firmly to the board it felt like they were trying to flatten the back of my head. I started squirming around and trying to tear myself free of the neck brace because the back of my head was throbbing.
My head hurts now. Gotta fast forward.
X-rays. 1st degree shoulder separation. A partial black eye. A bloody right cheekbone like a Neanderthal. Arm in a sling. A throbbing headache.
Please, people, keep your dog on a leash on a bike path. If I had been further down that hill, I would have been coasting along at 30+ miles per hour. This time, the dog came out perfectly. But at 35 miles per hour, the dog would not have fared nearly as well, and neither would I.
Fellow cyclists, wear a helmet and sports glasses. Mine both need to be replaced now, but if I hadn't been wearing them the whole right side of my head might need replacing.
My last gripe, because I'm upset right now. At the hospital, the first words out of a few nurse's mouths were, "How's the dog?" I'm lying there trying to pull myself free of their immobilization device because I have a pulsing pain on the back of my skull, and nurses are asking me about that dog that ran out from the bushes like it was my fault. Then they leave me there for a half hour squirming in that device with a pulsing headache. One of the nurses hears where the accident took place and complains about the cyclists that ride on Mercer because they sometimes hold up traffic. I guess she lives over there. She says this all with a smile, like she's glad one of us cyclists got our due. Alright, first off, I always ride the shoulder if there is one on Mercer to give cars room to pass. Second, I always wave cars through if I see around a turn and it's clear. Third, it's the dog's fault for running out in front of me from the bushes. Or the owner's fault for not having that dog on a leash. I wasn't even in the street, blocking auto traffic!
Sometimes America is too dog-obsessed. Some people treat their pet dogs better than their fellow man, and I'm sorry, that's messed up. Secondly, those damn wealthy Mercer Island residents with their gigantic gas-guzzling SUVs and sports cars are complaining about cyclists in the road? I'm sorry, wait an extra twenty seconds to pass, or get your rich fat ass on a bike.
In this case, the owner of the dog was kind enough to call the ambulance, and I'm not really venting against her, but I have no pity whatsoever for Mercer Island residents complaining about cyclists out getting some exercise. Okay, the cyclist who rides smack dab in the middle of the road needs to learn to share the road. I agree. But I meet far fewer of those than I do some young, rich punks in their daddy's SUV or truck, buzzing by cyclists and honking at them or running them off of the road. For those road hogs, I wish nothing but...
I'm getting too worked up. I'm going to lie down on my good shoulder and pass out.