You snuggled against my neck,
your breath puffing softly.
A place of peace as we sit, flesh to flesh.
I hated to let you go but it was too soon —
we’d just met
and it would have been inappropriate.
But time brought us together
and when we looked into each other’s eyes,
it was like the first time, all over again.
Your scent on me,
mine on you,
and it was loyalty and love until the end.
Growing up in the country means animals. My Nana had dogs and cats, which meant I had dogs and cats as a little person. The day came when I began petitioning my parents for a dog of my own. Needless to say, my petitioning turned into a full-blown campaign, the likes of which they were not ready for.
My dad had a work colleague who bred German Shepherds; we went there to see the newest litter. I climbed into the pen, eager to roll about with the tiny black and tan balls of fuzz that were yelping for their mom because they could not see yet.
She licked my hand and moved to the side so I could sit on the floor.
She knew I too was simply wild and accepted it.
One ball of fuzz crawled toward me and I scooped it up. The breeder took him from my reluctant hands, turned him over as he yelped, and pronounced, ‘Yep, that’s a boy.’
I put him on my shoulder and felt his tiny claws through my shirt as he crawled up to my neck and nuzzled.
Did you know (fairly) newborn puppies smell like babies?
It must be mother’s milk.
See? We’re all simply wild to start out but life often breeds it out of us. Unless we’re lucky.
We stayed snuggled together until the pup fell asleep and I fell in love. I was ready to take him home with me.
‘He is too young,’ the breeder said softly. ‘He has to stay with his mom a little longer and then you can take him home.’
I counted nearly every hour until he came to our house forever and we were simply wild together.
I called him Zerk, named after a grade school hampster.
I can’t remember what happened to Zerk but we had to have him put to sleep. I think he got sick or something. I went with my dad to the vet but couldn’t go in the room when they did it. I helped carry the black garbage bag with his body in it to the car; on the way home, I heard yelps, much like the ones he’d made as a teeny pup, coming from the bag. ‘Dad! He’s okay!’ I yelled.
‘No, that’s just the last air in his lungs, honey.’
I closed my eyes and imagined feeling his breath on my neck as I listened to the yelps coming from the back seat and cried wildly.