cinders.


when i was in fifth grade, i really wanted a dog. i didn't know what i would do with it, but i really wanted one. mostly, i wanted one because i really liked porkchop, doug funnie's dog in the nickelodeon cartoon doug. i kept telling my parents that i wanted a dog. my dog was gonna be awesome. he would fetch me the paper, and i would take him for walks. i would bring friends over, and they would pet him, and they would say, "you have a really cool dog." that was what i was gonna do.

incidentally, my aunt raised a bunch of lhasa apsos, and she had a puppy that she said she could give to me. so, one day, my dad drove me over to her house so i could pick up our new dog. she didn't look like much. she was a tiny furball with two big black eyes. we loaded her into the volkswagon van and drove back to my house. i heard that puppies shit all over the place, so i had put down newspaper all over my bedroom floor. once she saw all the newspaper, she scampered away.

that same night, my parents told me to name the dog. it was a girl, and i didn't know any good girl names. i just said the first name that came into my head: cinders. immediately, i thought of cinderella with her glass slipper, but also of giant, concrete cinder blocks. neither image fit the shaggy black thing in front of me, but it would have to do. what else was i gonna call her?

as it turned out, my mom had a strong phobia of all animals, but especially dogs. cinders couldn't stay in the house. we put her in the garage for a little while, and surrounded her with a fireplace gate. after i spent some time with her in the garage, i realized how hot it got in there. "she might die if we leave her in there," i told my dad. he agreed, and so we let her run around in the backyard. at night, she would howl and howl, most likely because she had been separated from her mother and the pack of dogs that she once knew. my dad couldn't sleep with all the howling, so he stuck her in the plastic doghouse that he bought, and he positioned it so that the entrance faced the fence. there was nowhere left for her to go. she could howl all she wanted in that plastic doghouse, but no one would hear her.

my cousins and i would try to play with her, but she was an overexcited dumb dog. all she would do was hump our legs and gnaw at our shins and ankles. any time someone came over and expected to play with her, i'd have to forewarn them: "make sure you wear jeans. and double up on socks if you can." cinders would bare her teeth and jump all over us. i had no idea how to train her. all i could do was say, "no!" and bop her on the head. it didn't work, though. it got to the point where all you could do to get away was carry a biscuit, throw it as far as you could, and then run in the opposite direction back inside the house.

eventually, no one wanted to play with cinders. she just hung out by herself in the backyard all day. i started to hate her. she was supposed to be my porkchop, or snoopy. she was supposed to fetch tennis balls and sit when i told her to sit. but she wouldn't. she would just jump all over my leg and try to sink her teeth into me. when i'd pull away, she'd growl. to get my revenge on the idiot dog, i'd sometimes trick her when it came to meal time. each time i unlocked the sliding door, she'd come running, expecting to be fed. i'd usually stick her dog food and water dish right outside the door and watch her as she ate her food. but after i started hating her, sometimes i would just unlock the door and watch her come running, and then i'd just stand there and laugh. i'd wait until she'd go away, and then i'd unlock the door again. like clockwork, she'd come running. by doing this, i proved that i was smarter than my dog.

after some time, cinders became obviously depressed. she no longer responded to the click of the door lock. she wouldn't even jump on my leg or try to bite anyone anymore. when i went outside, she'd just look at me and trot off.

one day, my dad took her to the vet. the vet discovered that she had small cuts and bruises everywhere, most likely from scampering through all the rose bushes. he advised us to keep her indoors, but we didn't.

a few weeks later, my dad picked me up from school and told me that he had given cinders away. i didn't even react. i was a terrible pet owner, and i knew it. i had no idea how to take care of a dog. the entire six months that she lived with us, i didn't even take her for a walk. not once.

i'd like to think that she ended up with some family that didn't neglect her. i'd like to think that this family took care of her, and trained her, and let her stay inside the house.

she deserved at least that much.

1 comment:

EasilyEntertained said...

You do realize that puppies bite all the time like that because they're teething right? If you had waited a little while that would all be have ended. Very sad story.