Her Affliction

I see them often when I run, three of them, a small family of two dogs and their mistress, walking in the sunshine. Today, they move slowly, hampered by the wagon the woman tows and the fact that the larger of the dogs is missing a front leg.

They amble along the path by the lake, happy to be outside on this beautiful day, the dogs sniffing at every blade of grass and lifting a leg as often as possible as dogs will, their owner patient and solicitous of this meandering.

The brown-coated, three-legged dog has warm, liquid eyes and is blissfully unaware of his missing limb. He hops along, nose aquiver in the breeze, gently moving his tail at the sight of me.

I wonder at the heart of a person who takes in such a dog.

Did she adopt this three-legged mongrel of unknown pedigree because no one else would? Had she visited him daily at the shelter knowing his time was almost up? Maybe he’d been there a long time. She had to save him. After all, no one wants the broken dog.

Perhaps he had been injured or ill, required an amputation, and she, unable to bear the alternative, scraped the money together for the surgery, continuing to care for and love him?

I realize as I move closer, that the wagon, lined with a comfortable quilt, is intended for her three-legged companion should he grow weary.

The soft blanket is imprinted with pastel-colored lambs and ducks, a child’s blanket. It is immaculately clean and smoothed into the corners of the generous bed of the wagon. I am undone at the sight of that blanket, and the utter humanity in an inhuman world catches in my throat as I begin to run again.



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