He is a scrawny little mongrel. A fierce bite on him though. He often indulges his teeth on my flesh, despite most people suggesting I simply stop letting him rip open my skin. It is not always as easy as it sounds. He has been following me for some time now. His bark gnaws away at the inside of my skull. "I don't know how you put up with his constant barking," they say, but sometimes silence means violence. I welcome his bark. I am used to it now and some days I don't even notice he is there. Those are my favourite days. Though usually, it is not a day, it is an hour, maybe two if I am lucky. Then he will pick up a scent, a rotten hint of something so minute the human nose cannot detect it. He will proceed to act on it, finding the source of the stench and tearing it to shreds. That is when I lose control. You see, I did not buy or adopt this dog. Nor was this wretched creature given to me as a present on Christmas morning.
He has been with me for a few years now, albeit often neglected; his constant demands for attention are draining, yet loud and sometimes difficult to ignore. Despite endless attempts to scare him away, he clings on like a limpet: cold, lifeless and invisible to all but anyone who dares to look closely. Those who do look closely do not tend to stay very long. The aggression behind his barks usually scares them off. If it is not that, it is the thought that they may end up with a mongrel just the same as my own.
Overgrown yet still piercingly sharp, his claws will make themselves a temporary home in my skin. The severity of the wound left behind all depends on how formidable he is feeling that day. His growl, more intense than rolling thunder will fill every little nook of my body causing it to shake. Simple tasks such as pouring a glass of water seem impossible when this growl, a deep vibration ripping from his throat, casts itself over me, the hysteria that comes with it flows through my veins.
Imagine yourself stuck in quicksand. You so badly want to get out but there is something, an unknown source pulling you deeper. Your pulse quickens, your breathing becoming close to heaving as you know you're running out of time to save yourself. As the tiny grains of crushed shell pull you deeper, alarm bells start ringing. You have to get out, but how? Clammy palms and tiny nipping crabs refuse to give you grip of the surface. That is what it is like to own such a complex creature like my own. He does not realize the effect he has.
To begin with, I found his solitary ways like living in a constant nightmare. But now, I have warmed to the idea of it being just the two of us. When we are alone he will wag his tail. That matted black tail thrashes into the back of my knees and I will fall. This is when being alone is not so entertaining. He will snarl in my face, each bark like a bullet wound in my brain. The pain is unbearable. He does not care. I am bait, here only for his enjoyment. I am a rabbit being enticed out my burrow; vulnerable and intimidated. His energy is remarkable for such a scrawny little creature. His balding fur exposes his ribs like tapered points ready to burst out his skin. It is seldom that this will last longer than a few hours. If he is exceptionally confident, this could last days. That is when I am at my worst.
It has happened so many times that I can survive a few hours but when it lasts days I feel as though there is no point in trying to resist. I will stop pouring hot liquid over him to get him to go away, I will stop throwing punches, I will stop tossing knives like a circus performer. Eventually the time will come where I will shed my now burnt, scratched, bruised and slashed skin and I will start afresh.
A hand. A newly blossomed flower. Clammy palms and trembling fingers. A wrist. Connecting the flower to its shriveled stem. All colour is lost, translucent skin like cling film stretched over bones. Bones. My dog's favourite treat. Flesh stripped back, vessels exposed he will quench his thirst. A blood meal. He is a parasite and I am his host. I have been told I am only a temporary host to this creature but I do not believe a word of that. I have been entertaining his fulfillment for four years now. Part of me looks forward to the next four.
Earlier this year they tried to take him away from me. A friend told me he needed to see a vet because if I did not take him his brutish ways would only continue to worsen. The veterinary surgeon informed me I was neglecting him. "You can't even look after yourself." They're right, but I could not let them know that. Getting rid of him should be a relief; I should relish the thought of him leaving me forever. But I don’t. There is some kind of notion, an indestructible barrier preventing me from willingly giving him up. I have always welcomed change but this was too much.
The bathroom floor is a lonely place. Upon returning from our appointment with the vet, with weak knees I stumbled into the wet room and, as if in slow motion, collapsed onto the grey tiled flooring. He bounded in after me, determined to get my attention. It is hard to tell how long we spent there but I know it felt like forever. He was angry with me for trying to fix him. I have never known a dog to enjoy going to the vet's, but my pup is a bit different. I do not recall much of what happened but I remember two things: waking up the next morning, my leg no longer a functioning limb but tissue shredded like pulled pork falling off the bone and his bark. I could never forget his bark. That bellow echoed through every part of my head, I’m never able to stop it but maybe I do not want to. You see, I did not buy or adopt this dog. Nor was this wretched creature given to me as a present on Christmas morning. He found me. I call him depression and I would be lost without him.