Lately I’ve come across some heartbreaking pieces of writing involving pets. Last week, I listened to a New Yorker Fiction Podcast featuring “The Lesson,” a heartbreaking Jessamyn West story centered around a boy and his pet cow. A couple weeks before that I read author and singer-songwriter Patti Smith’s reissued memoir Woolgathering, which involves a crushing passage about the death of a half Collie, half Shepard whom Smith owned as a child. And I also recently returned to one of my favorite Stuart Dybek stories “The Apprentice” (collected in Childhood and Other Neighborhoods), which involves a young boy, along with his pet dog named Wolfgang.
Here’s a short passage about Wolfgang from “The Apprentice”:
They’d found Wolfgang in a drainage ditch along the road. The boy yelled for Uncle to stop, thinking it was a dead fawn. When Uncle saw what kind of dog it was he was reluctant.
“Those are Nazi dogs. That dog is an omen of Nazi things to come.”
But he’d given in to the boy’s request. They carefully moved Wolfgang, splinted his legs, and Uncle made casts out of the papier-mâché he used for his models.
As for Wolfgang’s fate, it’s not exactly clear by the story’s end, but it doesn’t look good for the scrappy Wolfgang.
In any case, the above three pieces (and above three beloved pets) inspired today’s prompt. Which is to write a piece of prose or poetry involving a pet of yours, or a pet of a character’s. And note: the piece does not have to be a grave one.