The Dog

She was dead.  He knew it from the moment he saw the car, but he had to check for sure.  The worst part of the job.  Glass crunched under his boots as he approached the car, now barely discernible from the tree it hit.  Two fingers found their way through the broken window and onto the side of her neck and lingered.  Ten, twenty, thirty seconds.  How long to be sure?   He could have stood there all night waiting to feel a pulse, but he knew better.  He shook his head at his partner. The backboard in her hands made a soft rumble as she retreated, dragging it along the road back to the ambulance.
He wanted to be sure that she was the only one in the car.  He shined his bright flashlight through the car and along its final path. Snippets of her life were now strewn along the road.  Cell phone, spilled purse, her favorite gum, a snapshot of friends.  He turned his flashlight to the woods, to the field across the street.  Glass sparkled along the road as he searched.

Ready to head back to the station, he heard it.  The whimper of a dog.  Crouched under the back bumper, it hopped toward him on three good legs.  Instinctively he reached out to the little thing.  It sniffed- and finding him acceptable, boldly inching closer.
"We're you in here?"  He asked as he scooped it up, clutching it against his chest as it trembled.

He was left standing there, holding the tiny, shivering thing, wondering what to do with it.  His partner returned. "Jesus, where did that come from?"
"I think it fell out of the car."
"Fuck". She shined a flashlight around the dog.
"What do we do?"
"I don't know."  He sighed.

A thin towel protected the small dog from the cold of the steel exam table.  The vet assessed him quickly. Ten, twenty, thirty seconds.  How long to be sure? She looked up and shook her head.

He held the dogs head in his hands, smoothing the fur that caught his tears. 

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