Neither of them had real jobs when they married, and one night, two months in,
her husband called the restaurant where she waited tables and said he had a surprise for her at home. She knew, without him telling her, that it was a dog,
their first together.
He’d been at a gas station up the road, saw two kids kicking a skinny blonde
mutt, asked inside. The guy at the register said to take her. Veronica
and her husband put her in the kitchen the first night, where she cried like
a human, and sometime after midnight moved her to their bed. She wouldn’t
lie down, just sat and watched them sleep.
A year and a half in, he surprised her with the big dog, the seventy-pound hound
that the shelter people said wouldn’t weigh more than twenty pounds. Veronica
and her husband had just started counseling. The big dog smiled only at Veronica,
and turned her back when Veronica paid attention to anyone else.
When the big dog was about six months old, Veronica and her husband had separated
but took the dog to surgery together. She had two extra claws on each of
her back feet that kept getting caught on blankets and such. After the
surgery, the vet told them that he’d found several more miniature claws
behind the two visible extras, that he removed seven in all. Veronica and
her husband couldn’t stop laughing, and went home together.
She got him two weeks before her parents died. Dylan helped her pick out
the dog and they walked him every afternoon. She put him to sleep when
her husband was in rehab the first time. She’d spent the morning
stretched out on the kitchen floor next to his crate, patting his head until
he finally growled feebly at her. She knew that was the last bit
of spirit he had. It was the only day she missed her husband, and she gave
the cremator a picture of her husband holding the dog, to be burned.
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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 34 | Fall 2011