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Dreamscapes Archives Fiction - A story about a dog

Sundays in Vancouver with dog
Sam North

Hazel called on the Friday. She had met a man on Thursday on the doggy beach and this was ‘maybe my last chance’. Hazel is 27 and three-quarters and is apparently already on the ‘last chance’ train.
"Will you look after my dog? Please ..."

Koko in the water

I hesitated – ‘I thought you met this guy on the doggy beach? Doesn’t he like dogs?’
‘He’s taking me to Salt Spring by air. You like my dog, Jonie is so cute, you know she likes you. All you have to do is walk her once a day. She’s well behaved and..."
‘Ok, but it is just a one time thing Hazel. As much as I like your dog, I live in a no-pets apartment."
"You're an angel," she purred and rang off in case I changed my mind.

The dog pitched up outside my door on late Saturday night. She came with a suitcase, three dog bowls, enough food to feed Afghanistan for a week and a note stuffed under her collar.

I never actually read the note as she had decided from the very beginning to guard it with her life. She snarled, pissed on the welcome mat and camped out in the bathroom, slamming the door shut with her big paws. She knew she had been dumped and didn’t care who knew it. She had the hump and was going to make my life misery. Taking a leak became distinctly hazardous. There’s something blood-curdling about trying to pee with this long low growl vibrating in the bathroom. I decided to face her down.
‘It’s my apartment OK, I can pee anytime I like.’

She growled some more. This was going to be great. At one o’clock I fall asleep, the low grumbling from the bathroom having subsided to a tolerable drone.

Suddenly, at around 3am she leapt on my bed landing like she just fallen fifty feet. For a second I though I was under attack. I couldn’t even yell. All the breath in my body was instantly expelled and I was doubled up in pain, writhing on the floor. By the time I had recovered from the shock, taken many deep breaths to restore my heartbeat to something like normal she was in my space, on the bed, snoring, her head on the pillow.
‘Out! Off! Off my bed’

She ignored me. She wasn’t going to budge, ever. When I tried to grab her she snapped and made threatening noises. Dogs know a good piece of territory when they see it.
For the record I slept on the sofa.

So it is Sunday. Sundays in Vancouver means it is raining. I carefully planned nothing to try and fool the weather into being a sunny day but I guess some other bastard had gone and planned something and it just pissed it down. The dog entered the living room and pressed its nose against the window, sighed and whimpered. It repeated this procedure around a hundred times in the hopes I’d sort of get the hint.

I didn’t get up. I rolled over, listening to the rain cascading off the broken gutter onto my rusting bicycle thinking to myself that I’ll just grab another quarter of an hour of blissful sleep.

Moments later the dog drops a chair leg onto my head. Subtlety is clearly not one it’s strong points. Damn IKEA chairs are hard to put back together as well. Angrily I throw the chair leg at the dog and it handily embeds itself in one of my B&O speakers. Great. The dog starts whimpering and burrows its head into my closet. It’s all well and good feeling guilty, but dammit...

I sigh, get up and immediately my bare feet make contact with something icky. I yell so hard the dog leaps all the way into the closet and starts shaking. The vicious brute of the night before was a nervous wreck now. ‘You want to pee?" I asked as gently as I could.

Those words she knew. She bounded out of the closet and I tried hard not to look at whatever she had deposited by the sofa. ‘Jonie want to pee from the balcony?’

Now it is worth mentioning here that you can take a dog to an eighth floor balcony, but you cannot make it pee from an eighth floor balcony.

She dug in her paws at the threshold; even when I carried her over and turned her around and vaguely hinted that now would be a good time, she clung on to me as if I was going to throw her over. (Which thought had actually occurred to me). She was not going to pee, no matter how desperate she was. I realised that somehow Hazel had omitted to mention her dog has vertigo.
‘OK. You win. OK? Didn’t Hazel ever teach you about Sundays? We sleep in on Sundays.’
I knew I had better shower and dress. This dog had to go.

Owning a dog is clearly a big responsibility. And dangerous too. The dog bursts into the bathroom as I finish showering and demands water. Apparently it drinks only from the bathtap and it drinks long and hard. That can only mean one thing of course, she has already emptied her bladder. Nervously I go to look.

Yep, sure enough. Right by the power switches for my computer. One inch to the left and she would have been toast. Most likely my computer as well. Great.

I tell myself that I’ll have breakfast out. I’ll walk the dog on the beach first. She’ll be exhausted and leave me in peace to read the Sunday New York Times. Other people do yoga, I workout trying to lift the Sunday NY Times.

I took the dog to the doggy beach on Kits. It is full of wet dogs and soggy owners. The women are there to stare at the men and the men to stare of the dogs. Jonah, my temporary dog, immediately stole another dog's stick and ran into the sea with it. Other dogs followed and there was much wailing from owners who did not want wet dogs. My new weekend dog emerges sopping wet and victorious from the sea and struts the beach like a victorious gladiator. Clearly it learned early to bark softly and carry a big stick. Dogs can have very bad cases of stick envy and the rest of the pack steered clear of her, sneaking jealous glances at her tail waving vertically in celebration.

Now here’s a tip for people forced to walk other peoples’ dogs. Do not attempt to throw a stick and ball at the same time. Dogs have been known to have instant nervous breakdowns trying to decide which to pick up first. Jonah stared at both ball and stick with apoplexy from one to another began whimpering in desperation and finally walked away disgusted with me for confusing her.

She was still off me as we arrived at Romeo’s Cafe on Cypress Street. (Sadly it suddenly vanished one day and became a Starbucks)

Romeo’s was a strange cafe. It was either totally full or totally empty. Sundays it was full of young rich beautiful lawyers and media people eating breakfast (served until 3pm). Of course they didn't have to scoff their eggs and bacon whilst an impatient dog repeatedly hurls itself hard at the restaurant window. A young Chinese child was busy entertaining us with excellent performances of Chopin and other classics, punctuated by the sound of ‘ouff’ as the dog pounded the glass every three minutes. Deeply embarrassed I slunk out of there.

We decamped to the Epicurean on Ist Ave for coffee. She could sit her butt outside and I could sit with the lepers, I mean smokers, watching the rain beside her.
"Cute dog." A pretty girl declared.
The cute dog looked up into her exquisite brown eyes and promptly threw up. Big time.
"Oh my God – my shoes"
There is very little you can do about Sketchers shoes once a dog has vomited on them. You could, of course, offer to pay for new ones, but I managed to escape with copious amounts of apologies and we both noticed the shirt buttons in the pile of gunk at our feet.

I kind of knew there was an another surprise waiting for me in my closet at home.

The dog isn’t ready to go home. She wants to walk. She feels perky now she’s coughed up my shirt. We walk to Jericho. We walk back, two solitary sodden creatures in the incessant rain. We arrive home. It stops raining. In fact the sun comes out in a glorious burst of heat.
I fall asleep on the carpet, exhausted.
The dog drops the chair other leg on my head.
I yell.
The dog heads for the closet.
I ponder the possibly of dangling dog from the balcony until Hazel gets back from her romantic tryst in Salt Spring. I was sure I had some rope somewhere.
The phone rings. Relief at last. It is Hazel.
‘I'm in love. We are staying an extra day. Is that OK?’

The dog emerges from the closet with one of my best shoes in its mouth. I can see that she has chewed the heel off.
‘No problem’ I hear myself saying. ‘No problem at all.’

I decide to lock myself in the bathroom with the New York Times. I open it up and groan. She has beaten me to it. The stench of urine smarts, it is so bad my eyes begin to water..
I stare at the wall and count to ten. It has soaked right through.

She comes barging into the bathroom and rests her head on my knee, dropping my other best shoe on my toes. Her tail is wagging for the first time.
I believe we have bonded.

© Sam North April 2003
Sam's Fiction Collection

*Dedicated to Koko the dog

Sam North is the author of Another Place to Die: Endtime & A Cure for Sceptics

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