Let me start by saying it fit Daisy perfectly. Faded blue with a lapel collar (cute). It’s called a “vest” but that’s nothing to brag about. All dog jackets are “vests” because dogs don’t like sleeves, plus they don’t have arms.
Mel got a fraud alert when I bought it. She called on her cigarette break and I said “yeah it was me,” and she said “maybe shop online when you get your job back.” She was right but it still made my stomach twist.
The vest has three stupid rips, hence minus three stars. Three stars collapsed to dumb black holes that sucked up EVERYTHING I cared about. Okay sure, the rips look “retro,” which Mel loved when she saw Daisy in the vest the first time, spinning on the tiles with her ears piqued while I made coffee. “Let’s at least make it look cool,” Mel said. That’s when she sewed on the Iron Maiden patch.
But here’s the thing. Do the product designers know ANYTHING about dogs? Like how dogs can get caught on a branch through “cool” rips while chasing a deer for a mile through the woods?
It was Mel who found Daisy wet and limping, vestless at the edge of the forest. She’d left work mid-shift for me. Not for the first time. The thick bark of an oak tree knuckled my spine and I tried to evaporate.
Last night the woods were quiet. It took hours to find the jacket by flashlight. Cheap denim pinned to a low branch, inhumed in mud. I rescued the Iron Maiden patch with a knife because I thought maybe, one day, it will be a gift. Like, “Hey Mel, remember when Daisy got lost? Isn’t it almost funny now, in retrospect?” Maybe we’ll listen to “Wasted Years” on the porch while Daisy plays in the grass. Sunset through screens will paint mosaics on Mel’s eyelids. Lime on the mouths of our Dos Equis bottles. Maybe she’ll say “I’m ready” and she’ll mean “I forgive you.” Maybe I’ll believe it.
Daniel DeRock is originally from Chicagoland and lives in the Netherlands with his wife and two shelter dogs. He works as a political scientist, writes fiction whenever possible, and is a reader for Fatal Flaw Literary Magazine. He’s on Twitter @DerockDaniel