On my fortieth day of sabbatical, my dog kills a squirrel. I see her out in the backyard, with the thing in her mouth. It isn’t her first kill. She’s a dog. She’s a sweet dog, the sweetest I’ve known. She’s a dog.

I find the shovel from the back garage. Try to find the thing. It’s not in the dog’s mouth anymore.

She’s happy. She’s almost always happy. Her motives with squirrels are not evil. I think she just thinks they’re better toys than the dozens I bring home to her monthly.

Do I feel sorry for the squirrels? I’m vegan. I don’t eat meat.

Squirrels are a nuisance and eat the vegetables I planted in my garden.

I find the dead thing near the fence next to my neighbor’s, where my sweet dog likes to say hello to the neighbors. I imagine my sweet dog thinks this is a gift. I dispose of the gift and text my neighbors. They hate squirrels. I think maybe my puppy knows that.

After that, my puppy’s full of zoomies. Proud. The other neighbor’s dog has gotten loose and my puppy sees that. She, for the first time, finds a way to climb over the fence, and runs to find the neighbor dog. They are such silly partners.

I say to that neighbor, Want to bring your dog over to play in my yard?

I have two other dogs, older, small.

Soon all four dogs are in my yard. The neighbor’s kids want to come over too, and the other neighbor’s kids who were at their house too.

Soon all the neighborhood kids are in my yard along with all the neighborhood dogs. They all wear glow-in-the-dark-shirts, even though it’s light out. Some wear antennae. Some chew bones.

They move into my house.

The kids curl in the dog beds and pretend to be dogs while all the dogs just keep being dogs.

Photo by Brian Lauer, used and adapted under CC.