“Dog Days,” by Chloë Boxer, appeared in the Fall 2018 – Caregiving Issue of MQR.
Some days — on days like today — I can hardly remember what it was like before we knew what the dogs could smell. It’s understandable, I tell myself. That’s because in the perfect painting of memory, nothing looks that different. I mean sure, girls wore that funny little bump in the front of their hair, and we used words like faggot and tranny, and there were only two mainstream political parties. But we were still arguing about health insurance, and complaining about our mothers and our jobs and the price of gas, and even all the way back then, I already loved him.
I didn’t have a dog then. The whole idea seemed ridiculous. Maybe that’s how our parents felt about smartphones — at first no one could imagine such a thing. Then, suddenly, everyone had one. I talk about how I should’ve bought stock in Purina the way my dad used to talk about Apple. We should’ve gotten in on the ground floor, Kath! But who can see these things coming, right? Well, maybe the dogs can do that, too. You never know anymore.
The first time I heard of anything like it was in one of those clickbait articles we all learned so quickly to disregard: “This Woman’s Dog Saved Her Life, And You’ll Never Believe How.” I didn’t believe it. Apparently the dog kept barking at her stomach — barking and barking — until finally she went to see a doctor. It was cancer, of course — late stage. The doctors operated immediately and her life was saved. But no one knew shit back then. Like everything, it started out as nothing.
Image: Basquiat, Jean-Michel. “Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump.” 1982. Private collection.
Chloë Boxer is a writer of fiction and true crime television pursuing an MFA in fiction at Arizona State University. Follow her on Twitter @SilvrSpoonerism.