Fifteen Dogs

Rip, Buck, Jerry, Joe, Red Issy. Point, Superman, Callie. Linus, Otis, Homer, Ann. Hondo, Sam, Auna. The temptation is to talk endlessly about them—their breeds and dispositions, the great hunts we made together, how they lived and loved, how they died, where they’re buried, what I buried them with—so many home movies. How many man-hours, how many days, weeks, months—what percentage of a life—passed by in which I was cleaning up after them in their first year of life, and again in their fading last years? How many hours spent warming water to add to the kibble? Sweeping the hardwood floors of the daily shedding? Lifting the crates in and out of the Subaru, fumbling with leash clips in the snow. How many trips to the vet, how many hours and years spent training them, and learning to read them. Waiting for them to pee, waiting for them to poop. Gloved with a plastic bag, picking it up steaming, looking for the distant trash receptacle. The sweet irony being, of course, that we serve them far more than they serve us. Service animals, we all are.

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