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Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Smiling Dog

We were driving home from our usual Saturday morning routine of a visit to the library followed by a quest for breakfast when the dog ran out into the street.

The black streak came out of nowhere, and if it had been me driving, that poor beast would be asphalt by now. But Ian has sharp eyes, and he slammed on the brakes hard enough to throw out his back before I even knew what was coming.

"Oh my god!" I said as the front passenger side of the car collided with the dog's left shoulder. A tree branch fell from the dog's mouth and the car came to a halt.

The dog's master ran out to the sidewalk, her face somehow both completely expressionless and covered with worry at the same time as the dog hobbled back to her. "Is he alright?" Ian called out, leaping out of the car and leaving me and it idling in the middle of the road. The girl said nothing, but rubbed the dog's leg which it kept lifted from the ground. Dogs always look like they're smiling when their mouths are open, I thought to myself, even when they've just glimpsed the Reaper on the hood of a car.

Concerned bystanders wandered over from neighboring porches while Ian stood awkwardly in the middle of the road, arms akimbo, and my eyes shifted between the scene and the rearview. The road behind us was clear.

The girl continued reticently rubbing the smiling dog's leg, which it eventually lowered to the ground, and I finally exhaled the breath I didn't know I had been holding. Ian came back around to the driver's side and lowered himself into the seat with a grimace, saying his back had been thrown out.

Ian's grimace, the girl's expressionless worry, the neighbors' concern, and my breath of relief, and that dog kept on smiling.

That dog has plenty to smile about, I thought, and we drove away.

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Claire said...

Terror, revelation, and inspiration, all in a few minutes...I'm glad to hear you're both okay (Ian's out-of-whack back attack aside).

I've wondered in the past if part of the domestication process in dogs was the selection (intentional or not) of canines that appeared to be smiling when their mouths opened. Foxes smirk, but wolves seem more like they're only pretending to smile, which is a crucial distinction, I think.

The mute girl who owns the dog strikes me as one of those enigmatic figures from Scandinavian short fiction. They just stare mutely, until they say something like "The strudel is in you, manchild." and vanish into the swirling snow.

Sov said...

Is the puppy ok? Sounds like he was in the midst of a game of catch the stick. If he's not dead, I suppose he's ok.

I ran over a cat once. Didn't mean to, but I couldn't miss it. Right in front of his house with his family outside too. I didn't stop.

The owner was probably in shock as well. Possibly why she didn't speak.

Sra said...

Claire: That's interesting about foxes and wolves, you may be right about selective domestication of "happy" dogs. I so wish the mute girl had said the strudel thing.

Sov: The dog is fine as far as I know. He just looked stunned, but his leg looked like it wasn't broken. There's a lengthy strip of grass in the middle of the road that people in the neighborhood often use to play with their dogs, and this dog was running out to it when we hit it. Its master was far behind the dog, so clearly she hasn't trained it to stay by her side when it's important for it to do so. Poor thing. They don't understand if they aren't taught. Hopefully she will do something about that now.

Melliferous Pants said...

Oh my goodness, that sounds horrific! I hope that pup is well as Ian's back.

Ben Sloan said...

Great post!

I was in the car with a friend when he hit a goose the other day. He slowed down so he wouldn't hit one, then sped right into another as it materialized out of the darkness.

I may have laughed.

Sra said...

Pants: Ian's back is making a slow but sure recovery. Luckily he gets to sit much of the time at work, so he should be set tomorrow.

Ben: Thanks! I may have laughed at your comment. :)

feed the world with PEZ said...

Actually the owner did speak. I asked if everything was ok and she grudgingly said "I think she will be fine." She was none to pleased with me I think, however in my defense, there is a leash law in Salt Lake City. I should have been pissed the fuck off. Now due to my reflexes akin to that of a rabid mongoose, I was almost stopped when I collided with the poor pup exemplified by the fact that she didn't even fall over. So when I got out of the car the owner was holding her leg and her tail was wagging (the dogs not the owners). Knocked a little silly I suppose. Her tail quickly slowed though and moved to a more submissive position likely signaling the pain in her shoulder. Had she not been a puppy I would suppose there could have been a broken bone or two. Most likely a rather large bruise and a lesson to not run into the street. Now since I myself am no longer a puppy the damage was a little more extensive. A lesson to me that I really need to get into better shape. In the event of a major disaster I could easily be crippled and/or burnt. As I lay flat on my back typing this I can't help but be slightly put off by the reaction of the owner. After all ultimately it was her responsibility to take care of her dog and keep her safe. As a motorist I did everything in my power to subvert a disaster. What lesson was taught to the owner? Now if I was a mean person I would have yelled at her for letting her dog run loose. I'm not a mean hateful person. I'm a mostly good yet very calculated individual. A mean person would have said spiteful things invoking an emotional response in her. Attacking her with psychic malice. She would become enraged attacking back, shifting the blame thus rationalizing her actions to defend herself. After a few days she would go on with life as usual and always blame me for the incident. That teaches nothing. As a good yet calculated person I said nothing. Projecting the image that the only thing that mattered at the time was the well being of the defenseless poorly trained animal. Sounds very Buddhist and benign I know. However, this will allow her mind to eventually come to the realization that it was her own fault for almost killing her dog. Something that will haunt her for years to come. Forcing her to take responsibility for her actions. Something that will be re-enforced each and every time she lets her dog outside. Now that is a lesson that eases my pain..

Sra said...

Thanks, Love. I didn't hear the girl speak, and I'm glad of that, cause I think it makes a better story, and because of that Claire said the Strudel Manchild thing.

I hope the girl does acknowledge her responsibility for what happened.

We're gonna get you a proper bike sometime soon and that will help your back and abs get stronger so this type of injury is less likely to happen.

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