Woof, my dog


dogI got my first dog when I was eight.  It was my job to take care of her and I named her “Woof.”  I thought it important that she could say her own name.

She was a silly, spirited dog.  On camping trips Woof would sit next to me and snap at circling horseflies, then chomp them down. She looked so goofy with her black and gray splotches, brown eyes and wavy fur.  I loved her very much.
My sister and I dropped acid together the summer going into the seventh grade when we were at a beach house for a family reunion.  My sister, Woof, and I wandered off down the beach together, sat down next to some driftwood and took in the beautiful scenery.  We marveled at how Woof seemed to understand us in ways that we could never even understood each other.  We watched her barreling down the beach, chasing after gulls and other dogs, barking at the waves.  She was such a noble beast, a proper mutt.

As I grew older and spent more and more time with girls, I didn’t want to go home to walk my dog.  It was selfish, I know.  My dad lectured me about responsibility and said that if I didn’t take care of her, he’d give her away to a family that would.  It became a source of many arguments between me and my dad, though the true reason behind them had nothing to do with Woof. It was just that I was a teenager and he was a dad. We had very different agendas.  Somehow Woof ended up getting in the middle of it all.

One day, in the heat of an argument, I yelled, “Well then why don’t you just give her away then!?” before storming out of the house to see my girlfriend at the time.  That night, as my dad was walking her off-leash, she ran across 27th street and was hit by a speeding car.  Her body rolled an entire city block. She died on impact.  When I got home, my sister, my dad and Woof were sitting in the driveway.  Clumps of her fur had fallen out. Blood had coagulated on the tip of her nose. Seeing her lie there I felt so confused—that something that ever moved and lived like her could ever die.  “Where were you?” my dad asked, his eyes filled with tears. It was the first time I’d seen him cry since my mother left him.

They were too distraught to do anything at that point, so at 14, I buried the dog by myself in the backyard.  I wanted to tell her that I didn’t mean what I said, that I loved her and I would never give her away.  I felt like it was my fault and in fact I still often do.  I hope one day to see her again.

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