I spot him from the bus window: a tiny scruffy dog, no bigger than a short-legged housecat. He’s trundling along, leashless, staying close to his guardian’s feet.

He keeps looking up at his owner, checking in, making sure he’s doing the right thing.

He’s so small. I wonder how often he gets tripped over in the kitchen, trying to sniff out his humans’ dinner. I wonder if that’s why he has that odd gait, the kind where it looks like he’s trying to keep one of his back feet off the ground, but he’s not necessarily in pain.

I wonder how big his world is. Has he been on a plane? Has he ridden the bus? Did he have another owner before this one? Did his previous owner die? Has he ever caught a mouse and eaten it? Has he had surgery? Does he remember any of it?

But none of that matters. He thrives in this infinite, scary world. He is loved and gives love – whether that’s because he wants, to or because his biology forces him into it.

He’s fed and housed. He walks off-leash. He probably likes some foods and hates others, like you. He probably has his triggers; maybe skateboards set him off. Maybe someone with a skateboard attacked him once, and now he can’t get over it.

Maybe it’s not even a male dog.

Maybe she’s had babies. Maybe they all got sold as tiny puppies; the ultimate tragedy of womanhood, multiplied by three (or eight, or five, or however many she brought into the world).

I wonder what happened to her offspring. Where’s the runt? In landfill somewhere? Shivering on the street with a homeless owner? Crated all day in a fancy apartment, dragged around the block on a leash, then ignored all night?

Or is that runt happy and healthy, getting love and receiving love, closing its eyes into the wind, sniffing other dogs’ butts? Is it in a park somewhere, rolling in thick grass, wiggling on its back in a pool of mud while a half-laughing, half-scolding human shouts its name?