Dreaming of Dogs

I dream these days about puppies. Last night someone picked a tiny one out of a box and put it in my hand—it curled in the cup of my palm like a woebegone shell. It was slightly green, and little wiry crusts lay in its eyes and ears. It was defenseless and sad—listless, almost, from being this little new thing with no mommy. The person who handed me the puppy kept saying, “He’s going to be very heavy,” which she thought was a selling point. I knew, though, that it meant I couldn’t keep him. I need a dog I can travel with.

The dogs in the street are the people I look at these days. The way they treat us humans, with such sweet trust, is moving partly because it’s sometimes so misguided. I think that they know that we can be ignorant, cruel, and angry, and yet they love us anyway. It is one of those deep realities that we don’t pay much attention to. Anyway, I grew tired, after Scout had been sick for so long, of so much pooping. But now I see a dog poop, and it hurts, this kind little thing on a leash, balancing on the icy sidewalk.

Sometimes, if I want to make myself simply happy, I think of the time I saw a group of boys—probably seven or eight years old—tearing down a sidewalk in New York City. Among the boys was a floppy dog, tearing down the sidewalk too, its tongue wagging, a mad smile on its face, happy to be a little boy among little boys.

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