When I was ten, a dog followed me home. That's not completely true, I encouraged the dog to follow me home with a trail of Pringles. Maybe it was Monster Crunch, I can't remember. So the dog, a mostly springer spaniel with god knows what else bred in, stuck his waggy tail way up in the air, followed the snack food trail, and came home with me where I declared to my parents as so many children have to their parents, he followed me home.
They didn't like dogs. They didn't particularly care for children either, but they were more or less stuck with us-the dog required a bit of sales technique. Fine, the dog could stay, but he had to remain in the laundry room until he could be shipped off to boarding school to learn obedience (which a more intelligent child would have seen as a glimpse of their own future, but I didn't, and was thoroughly caught off guard when they deposited me suitcase in hand at the school where I never did learn obedience, but had my foot tattooed with India ink by another girl in the dorm. At least they didn't make me eat dry kibble and live in the laundry room until they shipped me off).
So a couple months pass, and the dog, Mittens (which was completely a cat name, I know that's like the animal kingdom version of a Boy Named Sue) named so because of his four white paws, still isn't home. Each month, the school would call, and inform my mother that Mittens was a sweet dog, but not terribly bright and would need some more time. Eventually, he came home.
Two days after his graduation/homecoming he was in the laundry room (my mum wasn't about to let him loose in her white decorated house (what sort of an idiot decorates a country house with dirt blowing in every time the door opens with white sofa, white carpets, glass tables everywhere? Yes, I just called my mother an idiot-were she alive today, I reckon she'd agree). The dog had graduated to better food as well-small individual meals of some "meat" shreds in cellophane pouches that came in a box. Why this was stored atop the washing machine, I can't say but the dog that was too stupid to leave the obedience school in a timely manner, took but a few minutes to figure out how to open, and consume an entire box of food. Stray dogs are good at that sort of thing. Stray dogs are also good at eating their own sick, so if the overeating made him upchuck, we never knew. We didn't know until he shat everywhere in that laundry room. Floor, walls, the scrub sink-the closet where my dad kept his work clothes. No surface was left unpooped. Later, when I'd have visits home from school at holidays, I'd think about smearing feces about the laundry room in a nod to the genius of Mittens. Regrets, regrets.
The next day, I came home from school to be told Mittens, when left out in the yard had run off. I spent days wandering the neighbourhood looking for him, calling his name, posting, "Lost" notices. It was only after my mother died-fifteen years later that my sister confessed to having deposited the dog at the pound. She dropped that on me as we were at the funeral parlour, picking out caskets. It was like she held it in for fifteen years, and at long last could tell me without being scolded by our mother. If I'd known they had me scouring the neighbourhood in search of my put-down dog, I really would have shat up the walls. Regrets, regrets.