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We have run out of options. My wife and I have been avoiding it.

Only let her play with her toys. But they’re inside, and we’ve retreated into our backyard, a concrete patio, ceding the house to the cleaning service for at least an hour.

And it’s hot.

She approaches the back door. Whines. Gives me a pointed, closed-jaw look.

Expects me to understand, to endeavor to seek out her need, because that’s what I always do. She wants me to approach her, approach the door, let her back in the house.

But I can’t do that. Not today.

So I go to the cooler for a solution. The plastic water bottle feels warm, the remains of a party after all the ice has melted, and the cooler’s sat in the sun for a week or two. The bottle glistens in the open air.

My dog sees the plastic. She sits. Her tongue traces her lips. She moves her body weight between her feet, from one side to the other. Her tail gives a slow wag. Moments of anticipation before the explosion.

I toss the bottle over her head, arcing to the ground.

She doesn’t see the contents, could care less about the water.

She knows my act is forbidden, but that makes it better.

A sweeter excitement to relish.

She leaps from her crouched position, a flurry of pounces, sequenced together like a string of calculations, her ears flopping around, adding joy to the sight, until she finally meets her victim with tongue and teeth.

The bottle clicks, rattles, and cracks, hemorrhaging water into the beast’s mouth as she relishes her prey’s defeat. First the label comes off. Then the bottle cap. Next a ripped piece of its neck.

But it’s not enough.


The beast is not satisfied with her conquest.

She looks at me with a wide grin, showing her amusement. Playtime is just beginning, she loves it, and she’s thankful for my sacrifice.

And the bottle still lives. Only a little.

It’s pancaked and twisted. Its edges torn with small bite marks. Its innards ooze out onto the concrete. The workings of a puppy, new to this game.

The second bottle is different. The cap comes off easily, the water captures her interest, her tongue unfurling to slurp it up.

How will the third bottle be? What about the fourth? I look into the cooler.

How many bottles will it take?

Thomas Viehe

Thomas Viehe prefers pop over soda, loo over toilet, fall over autumn. He lives with his wife and dog in a remote part of the country, Washington, D.C.

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