By Brittany Burnett
I don’t know what quite sparked it, but in fifth grade, I was absolutely obsessed with the Pug. Unlike the conversations I find myself in today that tend to idly swirl around with general detachment and dissatisfaction, my late elementary days were tormented with the daily anticipation that, come sixth grade graduation, I’d be allowed to pick out my dream dog. Eventually, the day came, and so did Claire, a purebred, fawn-colored Pug purchased from a breeder in town. When I was first introduced to the breeder’s group of puppies, I initially found myself drawn to the smallest male, but as it turned out, Claire, or as she was temporarily called, ‘Big Girl’ was set to become a Burnett, directing my attention to her slightly nauseating disposition with hushed barks and laborous breaths.
I was infatuated; I paraded her around with me, much like a young child would drag around a stuffed-animal on a string.
During the early months of Claire’s homecoming, I found myself completely enraptured with the joys of a puppy.
I began, quite quickly, to notice the ins-and-outs of her appearance and personality; I spent forgotten summer hours painting and drawing her, precisely shading the folds of her snout and the tight curl of her tail.
She was loquacious, and according to my self-made medical journal, had ‘an acute form of spaz.’ My favorite activity with her would be to sneak out through the garage and watch her sleep in a ball of fur, while she heavily breathed by the apple tree; it felt abnormal to watch her be so still and tranquil.
About four months before Claire’s first birthday, I came home from swim practice in the evening, to find both my mother and father standing in front of the doorway.
I felt the absolutely uneasiness one feels when seeing a parent cry, like all the power you’ve known has dissolved. Their distress lingered longer than I could bear, and I remember the look in my mother’s eyes, the sheer sympathy she felt towards me, as she said, “Claire is dead; I came home from work and she was lying in the backyard.”
My initial reaction was a sort of self-imposed mourning, as I took to my room for the rest of the night, and prohibited any consoling from my parents of any kind, adrift in the sheltered harbor of my thoughts, and the dozens of drawings of Claire that suddenly seemed quite foreign to me.
I refrained from telling my two good friends, for fear of the sympathy and unnecessary monitoring of my mental state, tear ducts, and any loss of appetite or interest I may develop in the coming months.
Instead, at school I was as cheerful and upbeat as I had been prior to the incident, and for a curious reason, I didn’t need to force myself to be that way.
I lost something I had so desperately wanted only eight months previously, but found myself not so upset and broken down, but more indifferent, and almost slightly relieved.
Having Claire made me understand that interests change, and that perhaps she was just another one of my many obsessions, glorious and full of life in her prime, but fleeting, and quick to lose her spark.
However, Claire acted as an example of disappointment, that things you care for can be taken away all too easily, and without warning.