The dog was a mutt, with no clear ancestry to speak of. He was smiling in the dumb way all dogs do: mouth agape, tongue slung back and forth and bobbing. But one eye was happy and clear, while the other – still happy – was infected and compacted by swollen flesh.
We packed our car, while the dog made itself a curious visitor on our sidewalk, inspecting our day-old thai food bag and gazing up at us with childlike wonder. We tried to think of a story about him; where did he come from and how did he get his eye infection. As I helped my wife into the car, the dog turned his adoration solely on me. He followed me to the driver’s side of the car.
I pointed away, shoo’ing him to get going. It pained me to watch him back away, his eyes still happy despite my shunning. I closed the car door, and he sauntered around the back end of the vehicle. I watched from the rearview mirror, then the side mirror, as he came walking back up the sidewalk to the front of our car. My wife sighed an empathetic tone. We started the car, and the dog finally knew we were leaving. He saw a man down the street mowing his lawn, and ran after him with a burst of exuberance.
Despite his pain, the dog knew that a new discovery was just down the street.