Saturday Story: Dog

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“Mummy, Mummy look at the puppy!”

“Oh my, isn’t he a little cutie? Oh look, he’s trying to lick your hand.”

From the day my mother and younger brother brought the black puppy home, misfortunes beset our family like gnats. My father was hit by a car while taking it for its first walk. The animal was sat next to him when the ambulance arrived, its tail wagging. The paramedic looked relieved when I took it away.

Edward named it Snuffy, but the rest of us called it ‘Dog’. It fouled every clean floor, every piece of fresh washing and every good temper in our home. Every evening, we gathered for dinner trailing fresh woes. As it grew bigger, so did our troubles. My mother lost her job. My father’s ill health continued, spurred by alcoholic binges. Edward was expelled after a kitchen knife was found in his school bag. “I don’t know why I took it,” he sulked, playing with Dog’s floppy ears. Dog’s tail kept wagging.

On the night when my mother finally left home, taking Edward with her, I refused to leave my father, who was passed out in a drunken stupor. Our family was torn asunder.

Dog left too that night. I watched him trot down the garden, a picture of nonchalance. A man in a black coat stood waiting at the end of our driveway. Four red eyes turned back to meet mine as they walked away down the street. Dog’s tail was still wagging.

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