Dogs Really Can Smile: A Running Moment

I’d never noticed the house before.

Small house. West side of 37th street.

I might never have noticed it, but I was flying down the street at full speed having just escaped my house for a much-needed nighttime run. I was flying down my street and the pavement was wet and shiny underneath shoes that probably need replacing.

I noticed the house because of the dog.

A mutt. White and black. Smiling the way that they say dogs can’t.

He was standing in front of the door, wagging his tail, waiting for someone to let him in.
I might never have noticed that house if he hadn’t turned his carefree dog head toward me and smiled.

I don’t believe that dogs can’t really smile. You may have caught on to that.

When we made eye-contact, I noticed the house. Plain and unremarkable in every way except for the fact that it was decorated with old-fashioned Christmas lights. The big colorful ones that are hard to find these days.

The windows were glowing yellow and warm and, for a split second, I wanted to go wag my tail and see if someone would let me in, too.

I wondered why I hadn’t noticed those lights before. Had they always been there? Were they left from last year… or three months early for this year?

It didn’t matter.
They were perfect.

The image carved a space in my heart: wagging dog, glowing lights, warm windows. And on an otherwise mediocre day, my favorite shit-eating grin took over my entire face as my pace quickened.

This is why I run.

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