She parked her coffee mug
in the puddle by her plate.
The other woman shook her
head to tsk-tsk her, but said nothing. They were grandmas and as such had
little interest in continuing to abide by cultural norms. Her response had
grown from habit, not concern.
As the siblings smiled at
each other between sips of hot, dark liquid, a turquoise-hued head stuck itself
in the doorway. Granny and Auntie, what times
bout half an
teen bopped away, her second earbud reinserted into her head, her eyes again
fixed on her smart phone.
relatively subdued. Last year, it was metallic mane, though her younger sister
tried rainbow puff, and her brother went for rose gold blond.
Boys into it,
It was sun streaks. I
had to. I never otherwise would have been student council
You were a
Hair colors no
indication of chastity.
But in college, you
went red, then completely blond, then some other streaky
You wore flannel
shirts and denim.
Very comfortable. A
Emblematic of other
things, these days.
That was those days.
Did your husband like the switch ups?
He didnt care.
He noticed, but he didnt care.
Mine would have
cared. Did you know I basically gave up makeup and perfume after marrying? He
said artificial color and flavors, as he called them, made him
The two women laughed. The
older one took their mugs to the sink and sponged away the coffee that had
spilled. I have leftover chicken soup in the freezer. Will they eat
I hope you have
enough. Theyll eat that and more.
defrost some stuffed vegetables, too.
Wow! You still make
Why not, cheap, easy,
didnt like my hair? You never said anything.
Would you have
Ill set the
Before that, tell me
why your granddaughter went for aquamarine and pale green? I though millennial
pink with amethyst roots was trending.
Here Duke, here
Boy!Beep! Beep! Screech.
Duke was Howards pet.
That schnauzer was better than the baby brother that Mommy had also brought
home. Now Duke was dead, but Howard still had that baby brother. Howard sat on
the sidewalk and cried.
Abby and June came by. They
pointed at Howard and sang, Howy, Howy, baby, baby, lost his doggy.
Sissy, sissy. Stop yelling at us. Hes such a baby.
Abby and June ran
At home, Mommy gave Howard
hugs and kisses and made him broccoli stir-fry.
Two weeks later, he was
. asked Mommy.
The pet show. Duke
Maybe a new
You wouldnt get
a new baby. There will never be a dog like Duke. He was trained and hed
win the show. I told Abby and June hed win.
Think about a new
dog. There will be many shows. Maybe, get a new dog, now, and think about
* * *
A few months later,
Howards little brother was still a baby. Howard still had no
One day, when he returned
home from school, he heard a puppys cry. There, in his kitchen was a
light ball of fur with dark eyes and a dark nose. The puppy wet the
Howard frowned at the
puddle, but laughed at the dog, why do you have such short legs and such
a long body?
The puppy stepped into the
puddle and wagged its tail.
Your head is too big
for you, too, but your long ears are cute.
The puppy walked over to
Howard. He tried to reach the boy, but even standing on its rear legs, the
puppy only reached Howards knee.
Howard backed away from
those dirty puppy feet. You look like a terrier, but not like any
Ive ever seen. Lets find out what you are. First, lets wash
Howard scooped up a cleaner
puppy and went to his computer. After pressing a few buttons, the boy declared,
youre a Dandie Dinmont!
The puppy wagged. She made
Mommys going to
Over dinner, Howard told
Mommy and Daddy, and his little brother that he planned to call the dog
girl, Daddy said gently.
It would be like us
calling you Harriet.
Can I call her by her
Thats a little
Dee-Dee? Its a girls name as well as the first letters of her
Come here, Dee-dee.
Please dont puddle.
One season later, Dee-Dee
knew how to: speak, sit up, stay,
sleep, come, and heel. Howard again told
Abby and June that he had the most winning dog.
His classmates laughed and
told him that Dee-Dee was just a mop without a handle.
He shrugged at them.
Dee-Dee was a wonderful dog. He still missed Duke, but Mommy said that feeling
might last forever.
One day, Roger,
Howards best friend came over to play ball. They tossed a ball back and
forth. Dee-Dee watched and then chased it. A little later, she began to catch
it before Howard or Roger could. Finally, she put her front paws on the ball
and walked it over to Howard.
Duke couldnt do
Every day, Howard practiced
walking the ball with Dee-Dee. His dog got better and better at it.
The more that she grew, the better she became on keeping her paws on the
When she was almost a year
old, Howard entered her into a show.
At the arena, Dee-Dee kept
running around and around her carrier. Howard worried shed have no energy
left for her trick. He lifted her out of her carrier and put her on his
Other dog owners, too, had
freed their pets from their carriers. There were dogs everywhere.
Since she wanted to make
friends, Dee-Dee jumped off of Howards lap and ran away.
Howard looked for her. She
wasnt in any of the carriers. She wasnt under the table that held
the carriers. She wasnt in the preparation room.
Maybe she was in the
judges circle. He began to walk there.
A lady shouted, look
Dee-Dee ran passed Howard
toward the judges circle. A larger dog was chasing her.
Howard was worried that the
bigger dog might eat her or that Dee-Dee might crash into the judges
seats. Dee-Dee, however, stopped running.
She had seen a ball that
had been left behind by another dogs owner. She began to walk
it. The bigger dog, the one that had chased her, barked, but his owner grabbed
him and pulled him away.
Howard watched Dee-Dee
walk the ball. When she was done, he told her to do her other
tricks. People clapped. The judges clapped.
Howard picked up Dee-Dee
and took her back to her carrier. Inside of it, she ran in more circles. When
she finally fell asleep, he got ready to take her home.
Where are you
going, asked a judge, who was suddenly standing by Howard.
Howard, a tear falling from his eye. Abby and June were right. He was a baby.
Mommy was right. He should never boast about his dogs.
You have to stay.
Your dog is in the finals.
Dee-Dee is in the
That ball trick. Good
job! Plus, her coat is beautiful and her eyes are very clear. You take good
care of her. We reward good care.
After the judge left,
Howard hugged Dee-Dee. Youre better than even
Dee-Dee did not win the
entire dog show, but she won the terrier prize.
Howard did not enter her in
any more shows. He never again boasted about her or about anything.
These days, he plays ball
with Dee-Dee and Roger. He also lets his little brother play with