I woke up at 3 in the morning and checked my phone. I had a text message.

It’s true they killed Blackie

I wasn’t sure if the message was a question missing an important punctuation mark or if the message was informing me that ‘my’ dog/Kenzie’s dog was dead.

I tried to get out of bed and go find her but I must have fallen asleep because in the next three hours I don’t know how many dreams I tore through but I saw Blackie ripped apart by other dogs, hit by a car, and put down for attacking a boy. By the time I checked my phone again at six in the morning I was surprised to see the message there. I thought I had imagined it. But it was there.

I grabbed a flashlight and walked to my project partner’s house where Blackie spent her time. I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure if I’d see her come bounding out to the front of the house or if I’d find her corpse. I was looking in the street for blood stains. I didn’t see any. I was hopeful.

I saw her lying on the porch.

I called her name. A few times. She was never a deep sleeper. Normally just my walking by was enough to get her up. She was dead. There was red smeared on the porch. I thought maybe another dog had bit her neck open. There was no one outside. I sat on the porch and cried all alone. I walked back home and got my phone and tried to call Blackie’s owner, Kenzie’s ex-boyfriend. I wanted to know what had happened.

He didn’t answer. I guess it’s normally rude to call someone before 7 in the morning.

Fran, my project partner’s brother, waved me over and the two of us walked to the porch where Blackie was laying. It took me a minute to be able to ask Que pasó? without crying. He couldn’t even respond. He ducked around the turn of the house and I didn’t follow him, thinking about how hard it must be for him to be seen crying.

“We think she ate poison.”

I called her owner again.

“Is it true?” was the first thing he asked me. He sounded like he’d just woken up.


Diaaablo coooño.” It was the saddest mild Spanish swearing I’ve ever heard.

I was driving myself crazy, asking how anyone could want to kill such a sweet dog. Why do people do things just to be evil, just to destroy?

I changed into running clothes and as I put on my tennis shoes I remembered she wouldn’t be running with me that morning. On my way to the main road I stopped by the house. They had moved her to the back between the outdoor kitchen and the hen house. Her tongue was a dark purple and thick saliva had pooled by her mouth.

Someone told me later that the poison destroys everything inside, quickly, and that neighbors had heard her screaming. I didn’t even know dogs could make a noise that could be described as screaming.

I was irrationally upset with everyone in the community. I think I saw myself in Blackie a little bit. She didn’t really fit in. She didn’t have anyone. Families looked after her but she just wasn’t from here. She was different from all the other dogs. It makes me sad though because I never really felt like she was mine. I was always aware of the fact that she was Kenzie’s (and my project partner’s, in her absence). It made me cry that two weeks before Kenzie will be here (to help with an upgrade to the water system) she died. To have missed Kenzie by such a short window of time seems like the greatest tragedy that could have befallen Blackie.

Blackie’s (human) family spent most of that afternoon sitting on the plastic chairs and talking about what a good dog Blackie was. They offered me a plastic cup of what is more alcoholic grape juice than wine. I raised it up, “To Blackie.”

Fran took her body out far into the hills. In three months, he told me, we’ll go back and get the bones.