When you have a dog, you usually know the other dog owners in your neighborhood. You often see them every morning and evening, you know which dogs you should avoid (Ziggy. Always zigzag from Zizzy), and you start to wonder and worry when don’t see them.

I knew my neighbors would be wondering about Pal after three weeks. But imagining getting through that conversation with each of them made me want to just never leave my house again.

That could only last so long. A girl’s gotta see a sunset every once in a while.

Pal and I had a usual route so when I decided to head to the shore, I took the unusual route. Bam, Bonnie caught me anyway. I got through this 15 minute conversation pretty strongly. Facts. Timeline. Now what. Changing the subject to anything else. “Oh my gosh I’ve never noticed how huge this oak tree is!”

I looked at my phone and said, “Oh gosh, Bonnie. Gotta run so I can catch the sunset!” I had 45 minutes to make the 12 minute walk but she understood and released me….right into the path of the next Pal adorer.

Less strong. More emotion. Had to change the subject three times. Made it early to watch the sunset show. I walked past at least ten dogs and felt odd being just a girl walking, like something was missing–not just a limb, more like my other half.

“Beth!” The third neighbor was half-running to catch me. “I heard the big one… I heard we lost the big one.”

Why, I don’t quite know, but the way she said it struck a cord – apparently my vocal cord?

All of a sudden I’m making a gasping, crying, oh my gosh get me out of here sound. I can’t speak, I nod. She touches my arm. The tears come more intensely– like an absurd amount that I knew would be uncontrollable. I start to walk away even though I’ve never spoken a word. She understands I’m sure, because she has a dog (Ziggy).

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