“Pierre,” a woman’s voice sounds out.
The call is meant for a dog basking in the afternoon sun that’s falling under his people’s backyard window. He’s still growing, so any week now the top of his head will reach the bottom of the widow frame. He’s nose-to-tail lustrous black, except for some flecks of white at his chest. At the sound of his mistress’ voice, his alligator mouth opens into a wide, panting grin of bright teeth. His amber eyes melt with play and easy affection.
At his feet you can easily see a hole, dark with the wetness of freshly dug earth and fringed with blades of newly ravaged grass. Beside it, ready for burial and future discovery, is a thick plait of muddy, gnawed rope.
The opening and closing rasps of a sliding glass door precede her voice. His tail sets to work, swishing high as he runs to her.
She coos and pats him on the head as he licks her ankles and knees. His entire body shares in the wagging of his tail. Then she continues forward and strides around the corner of the house.
As she spots the hole, her voice freezes and shatters.
“Bad dog, Pierre, bad.”
She grabs him by the collar and drags his stunned, cringing body.
Icicles of, “No digging,” stab at him.
He trembles, looses his water, tries to lick her, to make her love him again, to set the world right once more. She dodges his tongue and pulls his forepaws, his digging ‘hands,’ towards the hole. He crouches and pulls his soft ears flat and mournful against the sides of his head.
He tilts his head quizzically, steps forward, then retreats.