The Silence of a Dog-less House

On August 23, 2017


It’s a different kind of quiet. The kind that makes you dread turning the key in the lock and opening the door. It’s like being without a shadow or an echo; it’s the silence of a single teardrop.

Friends tell me maybe it’s time to think about another puppy to which I say, there is no other puppy, God made only one. And I know that isn’t true, the world is full of puppies, but there was only one Charley.

Three-and-a-half months later and the grieving isn’t over, it’s not even lessening; it’s working its way to a full-scale depression. I’m not walking, except when I force myself and then I have to take a different route from my walks with Charley. Thankfully, the book is finished so I’m free to pour out my anguish onto the page without a thought to punctuation. Let the commas fall where they may.

On one of my boring walks, I pass one—a puppy, new to the leash, so it bucks and spins and tries to get loose. I stop and watch a while, and smile. The puppy’s owner, a young woman, shakes her head and smiles back. “I guess she’ll get the hang of it,” she says, a bit embarrassed. “She’s only three months…”

I reach down to introduce myself. “Maltese?”

“Mix. Part poodle. Her name’s Angel. Part angel, part devil.”

Angel sniffs my hand and looks up at me, then jumps up on my leg, presumably to get a closer look. The owner yanks at Angel and gives her an unconvincing scolding and apologizes to me. I kneel until we’re almost eye level. “How’s that, Angel?”

Angel cocks her head beguilingly and I swear smiles. I give her a scratch behind the ear and hurry away before my tears show. “Thanks,” I say to the owner, “good luck. Bye, Angel.” And return home to the stillness of my dog-less home.

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