by Colette LaBouff

What else would an animal be but what he always was? I had not counted on age. Mine or his. I arrived in big September raindrops, grabbed the dog’s face in the middle of the kitchen. This was a dog I knew from seven weeks old. I took care of him when his master went off to the Caribbean or went to live in Mexico after we separated. A dog who slept in my bed – I moved to the edge – for six years. A dog I called in when he cried from the top of his outdoor house as a puppy. My husband, calling from Martinique, had said then to “let him cry. Let him learn to live outside.” I couldn’t bear it. I brought him and the bitch in the first night. Now, I grab his muzzle, bringing something of the thirty-five year old I was into my hands, and I pull his face toward mine. That’s how easy it’s going to be. It’s like taking candy from a baby. He comes close. Growls and snaps. I remember; he’s eleven. His eyebrows are white. But it’s hard for me to say that he’s not the dog I knew. And then that age has not changed him. It’s made him who he always was. And who might I now be, his teeth bared between my hands?

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