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The Little Boat Dog
She was dying and so was I. She had been alive since I was born, over fourteen human years. Her body was failing on her and it felt like my heart was failing on me. It began slowly, she was slower, a bit irritable but then the immensity came. She stopped eating.
This was completely unexpected. Every time we came home from school, she would be sitting by her bowl waiting for her food. If you stood up to go to the kitchen she would be following you, wanting more food. She had the best begging face. So whenever we thought about her passing, we always thought she would drop dead and we wouldn’t even notice because she would have just kept eating.
She had little re-bounds and would eat some of her food, especially once we started to give her pills. Soon she became extremely skinny and it terrified me. I tried to stay strong but it was overwhelmingly hard.
During one of her last weeks, we were going to put her down if she didn’t eat by the end of the week. The day was Wednesday and my parents were off with my sister watching her basketball games.
I was home alone and I had to get my own dinner. The entire house was dark except for the light from the television. The sun had already set and the shadows mixed with the other shadows until night came.
She had followed me into the kitchen. I moved over to the counter and opened the lid to her dog food. The fumes wafted up to me smelling like stale bread and beef jerky. Ewe, I could never eat this even if my life depended on it, I thought to myself as I tried to clear the scent from my nostrils. The cold metal cup was heavy in my hand as I began to fill it with the dry dog food. Then I realized my mistake. Her food bowl was still full from last night’s dinner.
I gloomily walked over to the fridge to pull out my half eaten foot long sandwich. The refrigerator light burnt my eyes. Great, the lettuce is probably all wimpy, I thought as I grabbed the crinkling plastic and placed it on the counter. I moved over to the sink and flicked the light switch. My shadow fell over her sad, suffering face. Feelings overwhelmed me.
The tears began to glide down my face, streaking it like an Indian war hero. They seeped into my mouth. The taste was of pure salt. My legs grew shaky. To still them I collapsed to the ground, hearing the cupboards bang as my back hit them. Silent sobs came from my lips.
Knowing something was wrong my poor puppy, Marina, came over to me. I squeezed her as tight as I could. She nuzzled her face into my neck. “Why don’t you eat? Just eat!” I exclaimed through sobs.
My mind went back to when I thought she would never die. When my puppy would just keep living, wagging her tail, always wanting food. She was like an older sister, always being there to comfort me when I felt sad or if I was angry.
I sat there and cried until no more tears would come out. Her brown spotted white hair was soft under my fingers. Petting her was like feeling the softest cotton, but I could feel her bones under her hair. The ridges of her spine were easily felt and her ribs too. I squished her closer to me. So what if your almost fifteen and old? Can’t you just stay with me a little longer? I thought desperately. She was extremely skinny which made her skin like an oversized coat hanging from her small frame. Her overabundance of skin was malleable and almost like overly wet clay taking shape but slowly melting back to its original form. I squished it in my hand, molding it around my fingers. The feeling brought me to a memory.
She would sometimes sleep when we came home. When we woke her up, the side of her face that she had been sleeping on would be squished to the side. It looked like her face was cocked at a weird angle and she was always groggy which made us laugh.
The memory made my body relaxe but my head still throbbed from crying. Her nose was cold against my neck. I opened my eyes as she backed away. My hands fell to my sides filled with white fuzz. She took one long look at me and then went over to her food. Her walk was always trailed by her wagging her tail, which made her entire behind wag side to side.
Like she used to, she inhaled the food instead of chewing like a normal dog. I picked myself up feeling the cold tiled floor beneath my bare feet. Good girl, I thought smiling. Taking my food I went back over to the couch. She climbed up next to me and closed her eyes. I ate my food and let her sleep. Her body made my thigh warm and I could feel her slow steady wheeze press against me.
I didn’t cry again until the day we put her down. It seemed like I wept for days after. Now there is a small cross with buds of flowers for a little grave under our large pine trees. She will always be remembered as my little boat dog.