Stray dogs don’t have fancy leg braces

A little black and grey dog, probably a Corgi mix because he was low to the ground and barrel shaped, was having a nice pee on the gate of a shop and looking at me while he did so. One of his hind legs was rigged up in an intricate black brace.

I thought it was interesting he still cocked the other leg to pee, placing his hind weight on the leg in the brace. The ease with which the dog moved with the brace, the lack of hindrance by the seeming awkwardness of the brace, made me think that maybe he was very accustomed to wearing it.

He wasn’t leashed, and on first glance there seemed to be only similarly unattached pedestrians moving along the sidewalk. Not a stray, because our neighborhood is too upscale for strays, and besides he was too well groomed, too alert, too purposeful. And stray dogs didn’t have fancy leg braces.

The dog kept watching me as I passed, looking at me with all the audacious scrutiny of a creature of superior intelligence, part animal, part mechanical. He was processing calculations behind those black eyes. The pee puddle beside the gate was a pheromone marker, a collection of data, an encrypted message waiting for another creature to decode it.

“Not this creature,” the dog was thinking of me as I moved past, my shoulder burning under the strap of a too-heavy grocery bag.

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