The boy sat in the dust of the gravel driveway, his chubby pale legs stretched out in front of him. He stared down the line of the driveway west, directly into the setting sun. In that intense glare of fiery yellow it was hard to make out the dog already vanishing around the bend at the bottom of the garden. Mostly he could see the trail of dust kicked up by the dog’s retreat, and the occasional long droopy ear flopping errantly in silhouette. And then the dog was gone, and it did not come back.
I wonder how that felt. The memory of that moment has proven durable, but it is a record of the scene only; no feeling, no emotion, no interpretation has ever been attached to it. From what I can tell, I was no more than two or three years old. I don’t know the name of the dog, or even the breed, although from the ears it must have been some sort of hound, probably a Basset Hound. All I can say for certain is that it ran off, leaving a little child alone, alone.
What did that moment mean? Was it just a picturesque visual that etched itself onto my vision like a photographic plate from a century or more ago? Or was this a moment of loss, before I was able to attach clearly such standard notions to events? I wonder sometimes if this dog had stayed, if I would somehow be a pet person today. Or maybe it left because even then it could tell I was not. Maybe it could tell I was to be the sort of person who could sit calmly in the dirt, and watch life happen, and silently wonder about it forever.