But for me, today, I call the dog Hope.
Hope was laying on the right side of the road just beyond the court where I live, at around noon or so today. Pulling the car wide around him, I left the motor on and walked back to where he was laying. A small dog, probably 15 pounds, if that, Hope had short hair, slightly curled. It was this golden cream color all over that deepened to a peachy-caramel color at the ends.
His paws were still. No panting. He looked like my dog Ollie sleeping on his side, belly exposed, furry penis slack, relaxed
But there was blood, bright red – brighter red that I thought dog’s blood would be – it ribbon-ed thinly, around his head.
I laid my hand tentatively, then more firmly on his body, which was warm and soft and pliant. The accident must have just happened yet, I had heard no sound. No screech of brakes, no burned-rubber swerve of tires, no car horn.
Yet, a parked mini van, with one seated driver, was pulled off just beyond me, maybe 40 feet up the road. I wondered, had that driver hit the dog? But that driver never emerged . . .
Hope’s body was limp in my hands, as I lifted him off the street. I cupped his head and neck, as I would a child’s, and lay him on the hard, dirty-black ice-snow left by the plows.
There was blood on my hand now and I paced by the dog not knowing what to do. No collar or license. No one around except the minivan driver who seemed oblivious.
A black utility van sped by, then stopped. Doors flung open. A man with sand colored hair and deep green/grey work pants rushed over and close .
“Oh no” he shook his head back and forth, pulled at his hair, and told me in a heavy Eastern-European accent how it was that the dog had gotten out. “We were working and we opened door. Owner not home, And dog, he just, went. Went out, you know? Out the door, I called owner. ‘Your dog, he run out.’ And then we drive around, you see, looking for him, and now this?” looking down at the dog. “is he?” I felt the dog’s body again.
“I don’t know.” I said, “I think so, but I don’t know”
Another dark, windowless van stops, and the Russian man who had been speaking, straightens up, and backs away, making room: “This is owner.”
The dog’s owner is wide and tall, dark-haired, someone I would fear meeting on a walk at night. Yet, he is shaking his head and walking back and forth, “oh god” this giant man repeats again and again, looking, then not looking at his dog’s body on the snow.
The owner’s eyes look to mine, hesitating, not really wanting the answer they ask. And I say again, “I don’t know. I think so.”
Once more, I press my hand onto the dog’s neck, this time pushing more deeply into the fur. My heart quickens. There is life stirring inside, this tiny stream warm and flowing, I can feel it, a pulse!
I look up. And the owner sees hope in my face.
Grabbing a dirty moving blanket from the back of van, he quickly wraps his dog, covering his whole body and head, and places him in the back.
Doors close. Gears shift. and the owner’s van speeds away.
The Russian workers’ drive away.
I drive away, too.
* * *
I know where the workers are working. I know the house from where the dog mad-dashed this morning, just before noon.
The house is just a block or so from where I live.
Yet, I couldn’t go there tonight to ask “so what happened to the dog?”
I guess my heart just needed Hope to stay alive a little while longer.
Though, truth be told, I believe he is.