Hard Florida Rain

It’s raining. Hard rain. Old Testament rain. I’m driving and I cannot hear my truck radio over the roaring water on my windshield.

This is what our local meteorologists calls “overcast with 10 percent chance of some precipitation.”

This is definitely “some precipitation.” This is what we in West Florida call a frog choker.

I am wearing my nautical-yellow rain slicker. Water drips from my hat brim like someone recently emptied a mop bucket onto my head.

My dog sits in the passenger seat beside me. Her head follows the windshield wipers. Left. Right. Left… I don’t know how she doesn’t pull a neck muscle.

We are caught in a ridiculous traffic jam. There is a major gas shortage in Florida, which is causing a gasoline panic. Everyone is hitting the highways in search of filling stations, draining the gasoline supply.

All our local gas stations have gone belly up. I’ve tried six different stations this morning. Bupkis.

Throw in “some precipitation,” and you get the slowest moving gridlock known to civilized man.

In traffic like this it will take me 14 hours to get to the supermarket; 23 hours to get to the post office; and I might as well forget going to PetSmart. Which is where I was going.

Now traffic is moving again. Hallelujah. I’m driving at a pretty good clip when suddenly…

I slam my brakes.

Tires screech. My truck fishtails.

There is a guy is running across the highway in front of me. And I’m caught in a skid, braced for ultimate disaster.

The young man is holding up both hands, screaming at traffic. I can read his lips. “Stop!”

Thank God my truck does.

The kid jogs across a slick highway, through the booming rain. Cars slide to a halt. This boy is out of his mind, he just came scarily close to becoming a full-time harp player.

Car horns blare behind me. All-weather Goodyears squealing. Rain is pounding on pavement. These are the sounds that form the prelude chorus to manslaughter.

What is this kid thinking? What is he doing? So I slap on my hazards. I am now parked in the middle of a busy highway, praying that no vehicles ram their speeding masses of Dearborn steel up my tailgate.

The vehicle in the lane beside me stops, too—a newish Dodge Ram 1500. A truck that costs more than my house.

The Dodge screeches to a standstill and does the same thing I’m doing: hazards blinking. Dodge Guy hops out of his truck to see what’s wrong.

I hop out of my vehicle, too. I don’t exactly know what I plan on doing, but the young guy is standing in the middle of the road about to get hit. So I figure I should do something.

It’s raining so hard I can’t see. Some precipitation.

Dodge Guy and I are both shouting to the kid, “Are you okay?” and “Get outta the road!” and “You’re gonna get killed out here!”

More honks.

Then we see it. Through the driving Florida rain, the young man stoops to pick up an animal on the highway. A dog. I see a tail wagging.

There is white on the snout of the animal. And even through the downpour I can see that the geriatric dog is terrified.

The young man on the highway shouts and there is adrenaline in his voice. “She got off leash and ran into traffic! She’s old! She gets confused!”

The rain is so loud I can hardly hear his words.

Dodge Guy shouts, “Is she hurt?”

The boy cups a hand to his mouth. “No! Thank God! All good!” Then the kid gives us the Greg Brady thumbs-up and rushes off the highway.

Dodge Guy looks at me. We both exchange looks of disbelief. Something very bad almost happened here today, but it didn’t. This is what you call Providence.

Horns are trumpeting behind us. About 49,259 aggravated morning motorists are in such a hurry that if we don’t get out of their way, there is going to be a double hanging.

Dodge Guy shouts to me. “That kid’s an idiot! Almost got himself killed!” He’s infuriated. He leaps into his truck and throws the gear shift on his luxury yacht and disappears. He probably bought the undercoating too.

I crawl into my truck, manufactured during the Clinton Administration, duct tape on the passenger door. I flip off my hazards, pull in a deep breath.

My hands are trembling. My stomach is acid. My interior is soaked. I could have accidentally careened into that kid. Both our lives would’ve been changed forever.

My dog is looking at me intently.

Before I drive away I see the kid on the highway shoulder, holding his animal, cradling it like a child against his chest, kissing the dog’s muzzle. Rain pelts him but he doesn’t care. This image sticks with me.

When I get to the gas station, I purchase the last few drops of gasoline found in Florida. And I’m still shaking.

All of a sudden I have this overwhelming urge to hold my dog tightly against my wet rain jacket and breathe in the smell of her wet fur. I should be upset with that kid. I should be mad about what just happened. I should be infuriated like the guy in the Dodge.

But all I can think about is how l would have done the same thing if it were my dog.


  1. Carol Browne - May 13, 2021 8:02 am

    You write so beautifully. Each word is like a perfectly placed brush stroke on a canvas. You create images that draw me in tug at my emotions!

  2. Sandra Nelsen - May 13, 2021 8:34 am

    I’m from Phoenix. Visited Florida only one time. NEVER have seen such rain in my life, then the next day, more of it. Pretty wonderfully amazing. The little frogs in the can under the tree were pretty amazing, as was the crane perched in the tree 20 stories up…..I wasn’t allowed to take my friend’s three pound dog outside for any reason. No kidding. I didn’t want the responsibility, but you guys DO have amazing rain. We have amazing haboobs since about 2012 or so when I first heard of the name of a rolling dirt cloud the size of a mountain. Rain is better.

  3. Lander - May 13, 2021 8:46 am

    Yup, I know you would’ve. So did I.

  4. joan moore - May 13, 2021 10:38 am

    Guess my allergies are bothering me, let me wipe a pesky tear away and go distribute begging strips to my babies before eighty pounds of love which smell like pond scum get in my lap. Thanks for another glimpse into your heart and yes, I will pray the Dodge guy gets lucky enough to find such a friend.

  5. Nell Thomas - May 13, 2021 10:51 am

    You bet! Many folks just don’t get it. My girl is the best friend I have ever had- 65 pound black rescue never stops showing her appreciation.

  6. Te Burt - May 13, 2021 11:12 am

    I never knew anybody else use frog choker” — only I say “toad choker.” But I grew up in North Alabama, and Mama was from so far back in the TN sticks, they speak a different language altogether. Maybe that’s why I understand southerner although I never sounded particularly Southern. I lived in New Jersey when 8 learned to talk, and we must’ve had neighbors who were British, so I grew up sounding like them, which was reinforced by having lots of German friends as a child. They were taught the Kong’s English in post-war Germany. So I speak Souherneze fast with a British inflection!

    Now hard rain. We got that, too, and it was almost Biblical. None of the dogs, except Mischief who is blind and senile , would go out in a 5 second break in the deluge. But I understand that kid. Once I stopped traffic in all four directions of an intersection to grab a box turtle who was where he had no business being. Another time I had 18-wheelers at a standstill in both directions politely waiting for me to nudge a big alligator turtle off the highway while it impolitely tried to eat my sneaker. Those drivers must’ve thought me a nutcase! Once I had the driver of one stop his rig and get out to help me chase down a frenzied Chihuahua in the rain. So I’ve been there.

    At least you were at a crawl in traffic gridlock– and as we used to say when I lived in FL: nothing moves slower than a white guy in a pickup. Love you, Sean!

    • Diane Wise - May 26, 2021 4:25 pm

      LOL, my dad always said Turd floaten, Frog Choken rain…8 generations born and raised in Florida…

  7. Jean - May 13, 2021 11:22 am

    I would have been in the middle of that highway too!

  8. Debbie g - May 13, 2021 11:49 am

    Great story and great ending!🙏🙏🙏🙏

  9. Leigh Amiot - May 13, 2021 11:54 am

    In her lifetime, our Maggie, RIP, warned us about two rattlesnakes and she scared away a burglar attempting to enter our back door. I get why the young man risked his neck for his best friend.

    I’m in awe of how you recreated step by step what others would say, “It all happened so fast.”

    Glad all is well during the frog strangler/gully washer. And the pipeline got back in operation yesterday afternoon, good news!

  10. Ann Chumley - May 13, 2021 12:14 pm

    Watery eyes again this morning!

  11. Lulu - May 13, 2021 12:30 pm

    Loved this ending…so fine! I had a beautiful husky, Dani…and a beautiful miniature Fancy. Dani was ‘hit and run’ on a highway in front of our home; I saw her and ran to carry her to safety…she was severely injured. The vet did surgery and she survived. Fancy was confused and got in the middle of a six lane boulevard and was hit. Poor baby! I would’ve done the same thing for each of them.
    Your writing is beautiful, Sean…so beautiful. I also love your artwork…super!

  12. Cathy - May 13, 2021 12:43 pm

    Once you have known the love and loyalty of a really good dog, you belong to a special club and we all understand why that young man caused what could have been a disaster. My friend Bubba is a retired Veterinarain. He was gifted in his profession. He once told me that when married folks have done their job with their children they replace them with dogs. Makes sense to me. They don’t need an education , a wedding or a car. All they need is love. Mine is a rescue and he’s been here for almost 9 yes. He is by my side as I type. My husband is foolish about him and he is not prone to being foolish about much. Your astute observation says it all. In this crazy, mixed up world the love of a dog will make one do foolish things. Thank you for being an observer and sharing with many who understand. You are the Bomb

  13. Phil (Brown Marlin) - May 13, 2021 1:04 pm

    Or anybody’s dog.

  14. Heidi - May 13, 2021 1:30 pm

    I don’t think the guy in the other truck has a dog child. You’re keeping your Guardian Angels busy. So glad everything ended well.❤️

  15. JACKIE LEON DARNELL - May 13, 2021 1:32 pm

    Dog lovers are crazy………. Ain’t we?

  16. Karen Holderman - May 13, 2021 1:35 pm

    As a lover of God’s creatures, I have stopped and rescued all sorts and sizes of turtles, snakes and dogs from the roadways. Thankfully people have been kind and stopped. Thankfully you stopped and all turned out well. Thank you for sharing the everyday happenings that occur in life.

  17. david scott - May 13, 2021 2:05 pm

    If you believe that nothing happens by chance, as I do, note that GOD is DOG spelled backwards. God has taught me much about my relationship to him through my relationship to my dog, and my dogs relationship to me. david

  18. Joe Ann - May 13, 2021 2:05 pm

    Absolutely I would of done the same. God gave us himself in this form. We must take care of them. I would of been in the middle of the road for my baby….she passed last October and it still hurts.

  19. Susan Miller - May 13, 2021 2:11 pm

    Have you ever written about The Raw Bar in Indian Pass, FL? Plastic chairs out front, honor system drinks from the cooler, great seafood in a no-frills environment. It is a bit of Old Florida—not much left in the Panhandle—I count Indian Pass as the end, with Destin condos not much further west. I was lucky enough to catch The Currys, a great local band, when they were playing at the Raw Bar. You wrote about visiting Palatka. Growing up in Crescent City, with one traffic light, 42 in my graduating class (double the usual size; WWII babies), and where mac and cheese was considered a vegetable, Palatka was the big city. The Linda Drive-In and Angel’s Diner were favorite teen-age hangouts. Drive-in is gone, but Angel’s is still going strong.

  20. Christina - May 13, 2021 2:32 pm

    Every life matters

  21. Suzanne Moore - May 13, 2021 2:34 pm

    I would have done the same thing too. I have a 13-year old foxhound who is probably in her last weeks of life. The vet has prescribed special kidney diet for her, but says she will not be here long even with the special food. If she were to run out into traffic, I would do just what that young man did. I want her death to be as peaceful and pain-free as possibly. My husband and I are pet parents, and we owe it to our dogs to protect them.

  22. Betty - May 13, 2021 2:58 pm

    My 6 year old dachshund is what I term a “runner” because she doesn’t stop running if she gets loose. She flies through traffic at crowded intersections with no regard to heavy tires that might crush her. I have run after her, calling her name, and watched as she disappeared over hills never once slowing down or looking back. She has remained untrainable in this one aspect and I have continued to tremble in fear on the few occasions when I have searched for her, fearing for her well being after she has scrambled away from me, chasing some freedom that is so precious to her. I, too, hold her close to me when I find her, grateful that she is safe. I vow that that she’ll never get lose again, but she is a sly little thing. Some of us would go into many dangers to save anything we love but there are those who’ve never known such love.

  23. Leesa - May 13, 2021 2:58 pm

    Here in mid-Missouri we call that heavy rain a gully washer. But I love frog choker. Either are pretty descriptive, aren’t they?

  24. Patricia Gibson - May 13, 2021 3:20 pm

    I would do the same too!!

  25. Bill - May 13, 2021 4:02 pm

    Potential disaster turned into joy. Thank God

  26. Connie Wood - May 13, 2021 4:14 pm

    Another wonderful article with a happy ending.🤗

  27. Linda Moon - May 13, 2021 4:58 pm

    Old Testament telling of rain and Bob Dylan’s “Hard Rain” are good narratives for me. Providence provided two unwanted cats and one dog for me long ago. But that’s not important now. You and the kid are. I’ll hug my kitties and think about my late beloved dog after I post this comment here. God be with us as we love one another…our dogs, cats, kids who rescue them, and folks who grow older. You tell our stories so well, Writer.

  28. Walter Buehler - May 13, 2021 5:21 pm

    Another valuable lesson in humility, thank you!

  29. Charlu Kent - May 13, 2021 5:45 pm

    I’d have done the same ….💙🐭❤️🐕❤️🧑🏻‍🎨

  30. Karin McIntire - May 13, 2021 7:27 pm

    My sister has a sweatshirt that says, “IT’S NOT JUST A DOG”. The guy in the lux truck probably wouldn’t understand that phrase, but I think you would. Another great story!

  31. D moore - May 13, 2021 7:47 pm

    I don’t think it was by coincidence that it was you who fish tailed…just sayin’. My heart felt all his relief thinking of him holding his pup. You done good Mr.

  32. Bkr - May 13, 2021 7:56 pm

    Ok big big tears. I totally Would have done the same thing for my dog(s). But you gotta quit making me cry.

  33. MAM - May 13, 2021 10:00 pm

    I have picked up innumerable dogs that were running on the road. I even parked my car blocking traffic one day for a large dog that had been hit. By the time the animal control person got there, it has passed. But at least it wasn’t hit again. I’ve stopped traffic for several snakes sunning on the road, also. Yep, I’m an animal lover, without a pet for the first time in many years. So, I can totally appreciate what this boy was doing! God was with all of you that day.

  34. Janell McWhirter - June 10, 2021 6:13 pm

    Some of your stories make me laugh, some make me cry, some make me remember my childhood growing up in the country nearest town or grocery store not in walking distance. I am so glad I found you and your stories. Next time I am headed south, I am going to take a detour to Brewton to go to Drexel and Honeybees cafe.


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