“I’m taking him to the vet and having him put down.” Jeff said into the phone.
“No you aren’t.” I said, ready to scream.
“It is cruel to make him suffer like this.”
“He isn’t our dog to put down.” I almost growled at my husband.
“I don’t care. Grandpa will understand. He’s always complaining about how he hates Bruce anyway.”
“The kids will be heartbroken.” I said trying to stall him.
“What about my mom? She’ll never forgive you.”
“Gretchen, I’m taking Bruce to the vet. I’m sorry.”
“I want to say good-bye.”
“Bruce will understand.” He hung up. Damn him.
Bruce was Grandpa’s dog. He was old. The oldest dog I knew. Jeff thought he was 16. I knew better. Jeff thought Bruce was half wolf and half Alaskan malamute. I knew he was half Irish. Jeff liked to bake him organic dog treats. I knew Bruce preferred bourbon and prime rib. Jeff thought grandpa was crazy to have such a large dog. I knew Grandpa was half crazy and Jeff was right, it was about the dog, but it didn’t have anything to do with its size.
Once a month I kept the dog for Grandpa, while he “Went to the cabin with his old college buddies.” I hauled the dog to weddings, to funerals, to camping trips and hanging around the house. He’d been there for my college graduation, my wedding, for my kids. My mom had watched the old dog before me. My grandma before her.
Of course Jeff didn’t believe anything my family said about the damn dog. He’d spent years hearing us tell bad jokes and tall tales. It was how we spoke, in stories. I blame it on my Southern parents. Jeff just thinks I’m funny. He tells me I should have my own show on cable. HA HA HA. He thinks my family is quirky and quaint. Right now nothing was funny or quaint.
I raced home from the studio. I’m a photographer, mostly editorial, corporate portraits, product photos. Good thing I’m the owner of the business, otherwise I’d never deal with my husband, my children and Grandpa’s damn dog. I would have had the dog with me today but he was too stiff to climb into the car by himself and at 125 pounds I didn’t feel like lifting him today.
Jeff was still at home. I parked blocking the driveway. Thank God the kids were still in school. I have never been so angry with anyone in my entire life. I barged through the door yelling at my husband. “All I asked you to do was check in on him for me at lunch time and you decided to kill him. Well for once in your life listen to me…”
I yelling stopped when I saw Jeff. He had a towel around his hand. He was bleeding.
“The old guy bit me when I was trying to get him out of the house.” he said with a shrug of his shoulder.
I saw Bruce poke his old white muzzle around the corner.
“Why the hell did you have to bite him?” I yelled at the dog. Bruce tucked his tail and cowered. His ribs stuck out from his sides. He looked ancient and pathetic.
Jeff reached out to scratch the dog behind his ear. “Don’t yell at him. It’s like he sensed what I was going to do. Poor old guy was scared.”
“Don’t touch him.” I yelled. I looked at the wound on Jeff’s hand. It was clean. I went back to the dog. “Damn you, after all I’ve done for you.” Bruce looked at me with glassy brown eyes and shook, tail still between his legs.
Jeff put his arms around me “Gretch, don’t get mad at the dog. “
“You don’t understand,” I gasped.
“He’s old and scared.” Jeff said stroking my hair with his good hand. “You know dear, all that dog hears is “Bruce, blah blah blah. Blah blah blah”. He laughed and gave me a quick hug.
I pulled away. “He’s a werewolf.”
“Oh Honey, don’t call him that. He’s just an old arthritic dog. Poor old guy.” He leaned down to touch noses with the dog. Bruce licked Jeff’s face and thumped his tail on the floor. “You aren’t a werewolf are you old guy? You’re just a prince in disguise. You think she’ll give you a kiss?” Jeff started to make kissy noises.
I thought I was going to throw up.
“There’s a reason why we never see Grandpa and Bruce together.” I growled. They’re the same animal. Bruce isn’t 16, he’s 85. ”
Jeff took a deep breath. “I’m not going to put him down. We’ll wait till Grandpa gets home and discuss it with him. Werewolves. That’s a good one. So when you work at night does that mean you’re a vampire?” he laughed again. “You can bite my neck anytime.” He kissed my neck.
I backed away feeling the panic rushing up inside my body. “Jeff, it’s true and now….”
I couldn’t say the words. Now my husband was going to become a werewolf and I’d have one more old dog to take care of.
Juliette aka Vampire Maman