Thursday, May 3, 2012

Losing Plato

The hollowed-out smell of bleach wafted up from the floors, stretching to the ceiling like cleansing ghosts. In between the walls was a thick silence that lacked the sound of the yip-yap barking of Plato’s usual greeting. He lay coiled in a pile of bones and sucked-in flesh, his skin taut and eyes red, the sun shining through the open window like a spotlight on his frail body.

The harshness of the bleach burned my nose and throat and made my eyes itch. His copper-penny­ eyes followed me as I sanitized my small apartment, the smell of Clorox replacing the scent of Jasmine, waiting for death to strangle the air.

“Parvo,” the vet said five days prior, and I was confused at first, because it sounded like nothing more than a game children play. “Is there a cure?” I’d asked hopefully, but he’d looked at me with sympathy, and I knew the answer. As I left the vet’s, the sky had opened up and cried for Plato.

I finished mopping and sat down on the too-clean floor, Indian-style. Plato’s ribcage protruded from his body, a scallop-edged accordion inside his torso. I ran my fingers against his chest, his breath shallow beneath my fingertips. He let me cry, watching with sympathetic eyes, as if I were the one with the sickness and he the caretaker.

 I reached over, picked him up gently, and sat him on my lap. His fur was soft, his body pliant. His eyes—brown, deep, and soulful—searched mine, looking for answers, for comfort, for permission.

I nodded as he licked my palm for the last time.


  1. Not breaking sentences and going straight into the sky crying for Plato was such a sweet move. Rides all the implied intonation and gives it more weight.

  2. Very strong descriptive elements. They drive home the emotion for me.

    Laurel W.

  3. Powerful story.

    Watching your dog die, and being totally impotent to do anything but cuddle them is heartbreaking.

  4. Very moving. The picture of the owner sitting on the clean floor crying with the dying beloved pet really rang true.