Pet Ghosts

I wish my dog Jake would come and haunt me.

Things like that happen, I hear. Stories about people who lose a pet they love, and then late at night they feel the bed jump a little, and paws walking up the mattress. A familiar shape, fleeting, at the corner of the eye. Shoes in the closet, mysteriously chewed.

If Jake, my 110-pound Lab mix, were to come back, it would probably be my neighbor Charlie’s lookout, mostly.

“You know,” he’d say, “with Jake gone, you’d think there’d be less poop in the yard.” (There’s kind of a wide open yard space between our houses, and Jake never much cared whether he was pooping in his own yard or Charlie’s. I tried to keep up with this, bucket and shovel in hand, but was not always successful). And I’d say, “Huh. That’s mysterious, isn’t it?”

Maybe I’d start seeing a huge, mysterious shadow figure at night, over by Charlie’s pool, hunched over…you get the idea.

I’m finding, though, that I don’t need an actual ghost to show up in order for me to feel haunted.

I feel haunted when I come home, and I don’t hear Jake’s tags jingling as he trots to meet me.

I feel haunted when I take a piece of food off my plate and try to hand it off under the table, and no one is there.

I feel haunted when I find dog hair, which I’m always finding, because he was that kind of dog. We cleaned the fridge recently, and found dog hair. What the hell?

I feel haunted when no one sticks his wet nose in my face, asking to go out just 20 minutes before the alarm goes off, on a workday.

We lost a cat this summer, too…Simone. Also an old dude. He haunts me when he doesn’t race me to the bedroom, leap onto the bed, and stare at me until I pet him. He haunts me when I don’t hear his awful, anguished cry at mealtimes (God, he had a terrible singing voice…)

For a house with only one animal left (tiny, skittish, purring Koshi), it still feels pretty crowded.

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