Now back to Grace Stroud. She and Louisa, for whom Loulou is named, had had two dogs. Both large. Both male. Both pits. Then they’d had no pets. Louisa’s lungs were weak. A clean house was necessary. A house with no hair. Grace had cut hers short, so that she’d shed less. She’d vacuumed twice and more daily. She dusted. Still, too much dust or what have you. Louisa Mendes, oxygen tank, humidifiers, filters. The second bedroom practically a clean room. Still, too much for her. Every breath painful. For years. Louisa hadn’t smoked. Louisa didn’t have tuberculosis. But something had gone wrong. She had constant pneumonia, constant obstructions. She wheezed.
Every breath so harsh she cried. No, not HIV. Her immune system was fine, and it wasn’t PCP any way. Ordinary bacterial pneumonia, and viral pneumonia. Perhaps not constant. There’d be months free of it. But those months, allergies? Who knew? Not her doctors.
Louisa Mendes had died five years ago. Loulou adopted one week after the room was cleared out.
Now there were dog beds, and Grace still vacuumed twice daily. But now she had Loulou who didn’t cough, but didn’t speak either.
And now she had nothing.
Loulou had been a smallish pup. His mother hadn’t eaten well. Three of the puppies in the litter had died within hours of birth. Loulou had noticed the number of smells decreased. Then smells changed. Harsh. But the bed was softer. Then he went outside with all his sibs. There were still eight siblings. All bigger than he. Nope, he was bigger than four of them now. A while later there were no sibs. Just Grace. And that was wonderful. Sometimes Grace left him alone, and he’d sleep. More often though he and Grace were together. They walked slowly often, because Grace fell down occasionally. He just knew that this was because she foolishly walked on only two of her legs. But he’d realized early on that Grace did a number of silly things. She covered her poor bare hide with cloth (which never quite smelled of her). She’d never developed reasonable callouses on her feet, even the two she walked on, and put things on them when she went outside. Although, when there were spiky things on the ground, the foot thingies made a lot of sense. Also, when it was really hot or cold.
Her nose didn’t work either. She never seemed to know who had been around. She certainly couldn’t tell when a place was too filthy to eat at, or had been cleaned with revolting substances.
She didn’t have much appreciation of rotten either. You could learn a lot about an animal from what its rotting relative, scat, or food smelled like. That made it just so much easier to catch it. At least, it became easier to trace the animal, and to know whether it was worth eating. Sometimes they weren’t.
He’d been overjoyed the few times she’d eaten what he caught for her. After all, usually she fed him. It was only fair that he return the favor.
Once he’d brought her a fish from the river.
That had been fun.
Once she’d taken him to the ocean. That wasn’t a word he knew, yet he did know that this vast expanse was different even from the salt water by Randall’s.
There’s something totally odd. What is it? He wasn’t quite awake and the smells were different. The sounds were off. What had happened?
He opened his eyes, knowing suddenly that the oddity was that anything at all was the same.
Yet he’s awake in a strange place. His Grace wasn’t here. He knew she’d never be here. He whimpers.
A light smell, constant in the room now gets stronger. A little like his Grace.
A soft voice, “oh Loulou, poor boy. C’mere.”
He pulls himself to his feet and lumbers toward the coach. He leans into the almost familiar smell. Her hand moves to his neck, his chin, his chest. He’s relaxed.
“Poor boy. You’ve had a rough time. What a long day for you. It’s all right. We’ll keep you happy.”
— that’s a passage about the dog. I think it’s only clear from the name. Certainly that’s my intention.
What I saw when writing was Luca under the table twitching. But this dog could be asleep anywhere that’s not by a couch.
There’s a bit missing. The part where Loulou is scared of abandonment at the groomer.