For Dogs Who Flew In World War I & Understand A Little French


Hi guys. This is LJ, and this is a short story. I've decided to start posting my short fiction to SFW sometimes because 1) YOLO and 2) I recently had the revelation “I don’t need an INSTITUTION to LEGITIMIZE me” so I live my life in accordance with that sentence now. This story is about my beloved Samantha Silver (most of my stories are about her) on her twenty-seventh birthday and it’s my favorite story/anything I’ve ever written. A fun fact about this story is that I wrote it on the actual day of Sam’s birthday so that if she were real and not just a figment of my imagination the final scene would have been happening in real time as I wrote it. Another fun fact about Samantha Silver is that I changed her birthday from July 3rd to July 18th so that she could have the same birthday as Chace Crawford. They are literally born on the exact same day. The title is the name of the cartoon character Snoopy’s fictional brand of dog food. Dogs factor heavily into this story. There are two more Jen May illustrations as you work your way through.

This is the kind of thing that I enjoy writing the most. I hope it gets the job done. 


On her birthday she killed someone, a dog. Her birthday fell on a Wednesday that year, and she was in New York City. She was visiting her sister in New York City.
         In New York City she felt like she couldn’t do anything. She felt like everything she did she wasn’t really doing; she wasn’t “doing it,” she was “doing it in New York City.” She gathered that that was how everyone who lived in New York City felt about everything they did, and that that was why they lived there- because they liked it. They liked that feeling.
         She arrived in New York City on the evening of the 17th, and took a cab to her sister’s apartment. Her sister lived with her boyfriend, who she hadn’t met yet. Her sister had terrible taste in men. She didn’t expect that she’d like him.
         When she met him, “I’m an animal when I’m sleeping,” he told her, “So don’t, like, do anything. I’m not liable for anything I do while I’m sleeping.”
         “That’s a strange thing to say,” she said. She heard her voice coming out of her mouth much different from how it usually sounded. It was silver, white, sparkling, like a spiderweb- like someone was reaching into her throat and pulling out a spiderweb. She knew immediately that she wasn’t going to be happy here.
         Her sister was holding a short glass of ice cubes and something clear.
         “Is that vodka?” asked Sam.
         “No,” said her sister, “It’s gin.”
         The ice was making a very big deal out of itself clanking around against the glass.
         “I want to go to bed,” she said.

On the morning of her birthday, she woke up alone in the apartment. Everyone had gone to work. She went about her normal morning-actions very quietly; it was one of those typically rich New Yorky apartments that feels like a museum or an office inside an art gallery; it was mostly white and she worried she might bleed or puke all over it. The shower was the kind of shower without a bathtub which was a drag because those types of showers made her feel claustrophobic. All the water got in her nose and eyes and she opened the sliding glass door and water splashed out onto the floor. She worried the water might leak through the floor and dribble down through the ceiling of the apartment below and she worried she might have to deal with the downstairs neighbours banging down her sister’s front door, yelling about the leak. She mopped up the water with her bathtowel and dried herself with the wet towel. She rinsed the conditioner out of her hair in the sink.
         She felt like she was made of glass. She was worried to touch something and smash herself open. She wasn’t sure if she was allowed to eat their food or not. She approached the coffee maker and touched the glass of the pot with three fingertips, gently. She didn’t understand how to work it and was scared to push a button. She felt outside of herself and in a haze for not having had any coffee. She wanted to blow-dry her hair before she left but she looked at her face in the mirror and watched herself tell herself “You have to leave here, now.” She piled her hair into a knot and hoped that it would dry okay.

The man in line in front of her ordered a “tall bold— everything I’m not.” The cashier was one of those ten-foot Filipino chicks built like a wall, and everyone smiled at everyone. Sam giggled as she ordered a Venti bold, imagining herself saying “a Venti bold— everything I’m not,” which made no sense in a way that appealed to her: she wasn't too hung up on sense.
        She found a step to sit on. She drank her coffee, smoked a long cigarette, and wondered if she was bold or not. She didn’t fully understand what boldness was outside of its relationship to coffee, so she looked it up in the dictionary on her phone and learned that she wasn’t the first definition but was the second. She did not hesitate to break the rules of propriety.

She walked to Dean & DeLuca and bought herself a delicate tart that wasn’t very good but she ate it anyway. She walked back up to the counter and bought herself the Oreo cupcake she’d wanted in the first place but it was dry, worse than the tart. She threw it in the garbage and went back, a third time, for an iced coffee.
         She drank her iced coffee down the street and into Uniqlo. She walked past the long clear case with the mannequins inside that ran down the center of the front hallway and stood, drinking her iced coffee and looking at the store, all the things that were the store. It was buzzy and stressful; she didn’t have it in her. But she remembered her sister saying once that if you’re ever in the Soho Uniqlo you should make a point of using the bathroom, since bathrooms are hard to come by in Soho and you’re going to need to pee eventually so you may as well just get it over with now.
         She used the bathroom and picked up a grey t-shirt that looked like it might make her life a little easier and carried it upstairs but then threw it over a T-stand of two styles of denim romper because she didn’t want to wait in line.
         The street smelled like the cart cooking meat. She had chosen to visit the wrong neighbourhood.

She didn’t want to shop. She didn’t want to eat. She didn’t feel like going to a museum. She didn’t feel like seeing what any of her sister’s friends who were kind of her friends were up to because they were probably all at work and anyway she didn’t like them. The whole world makes such a big deal out of how fabulous and exciting New York is but there’s the exact same amount of nothing to do in New York as there is anywhere else; there’s just more of it. Cities are bars and parks and stores and restaurants and galleries and museums and offices and houses and apartments and that’s what they are and everyone’s bored but all you can ever do is either go to one of those places or meditate. In some cities you can take a ferry if there’s water or you could go on one of those tram things, but she didn’t want to do that.
          Or you can go to church, she realized. She considered going to a church, one of those big architecturally-famous churches, just hanging out and chilling doing nothing on a pew for the next five hours. Maybe she would light a candle. But then she thought “If I’m going to do something so boring as go sit in church for five hours, I should probably get a drink first,” so she went and bought herself a drink- a glass of white wine- and drank it on a patio with her sunglasses on, and it was nice, so she went with it. She ordered a second glass, and a third. After the third she was hungry again, so she went and got herself something to eat, and then she found another bar, where she ordered another glass of wine, and then her sister texted to say she was on her way home and to meet her there, so she took the train back uptown and found Benny sitting at the kitchen table, poring over stacks of glossy paper- they related to her job- drinking a juicebox of coconut water, and wearing a hat.
         “Why are you wearing a hat?” asked Sam.
         Benny shrugged. “It’s part of my outfit. My hair’s probably weird underneath. Take your shoes off.”
         Sam looked at her feet. “I feel like my feet are probably, like, dirtier outside of my shoes then with them on. The insides of these shoes are, like, really dirty.”
         “Suit yourself,” Benny shrugged. Shrug, shrug, shrug. “What did you get up to today?”
         “I tried to go to Uniqlo, but I couldn’t deal with it, so I didn’t…. um, do that. I don’t know. Nothing, basically. I did nothing. I ate two shitty pastries at Dean & DeLuca, I was really underwhelmed by them, but then I had Babycakes later, so that made up for it. I drank some wine. On a patio.”
         “People-watching?” Benny asked.
         “No,” said Sam. She sniffed and looked at the things on the walls and the trinkets. Her sister had turned into a seventy-five dollar candle.

On the train the fake air was so cold it looked blue to her.

        “I haven’t really been smoking pot that much,” Benny sighed, “Lately.”
        “Me either,” said Sam, “Actually.”
        “That’s so sisters of us,” said Benny, “Like, psychic transference.”
         Sam said nothing. She didn’t think it was psychic transference; she didn’t think that psychic transference was a thing.
        “I think we should smoke pot tonight, though,” Benny finished, “At Allison’s; she’ll want to. Like, for your birthday. For old time’s sake.”
         It was strange that seven months ago had become old times.
        “Sure,” said Sam. 
        “Good,” Benny nodded, “Are you excited to watch a dog give birth?”
        They were on their way to Allison’s to watch Allison’s dog give birth. The plan had been to go out and get drunk at a bar they both liked, but during dinner Allison had texted Benny to say that her dog, Chloe, was in labor. Chloe was a Lhasa Apso.
        “No, let’s do that,” Sam had whined, “That sounds so much more interesting than a bar.”       
        “You want to spend your birthday watching a dog give birth?” Benny’d asked.
        “Yes,” said Sam.
        “Suit yourself,” Benny clucked, “Fine.” 

They smoked out of a glass pipe and watched a Youtube tutorial about how to help a dog give birth. Sam knelt down next to Chloe and leaned the top half of her body into an accidental balasana, child’s pose. She rested her head on Chloe’s hot stomach and felt the puppies stirring inside her. She craned her neck to face the girls: “If you touch her stomach, you can feel the puppies!” she enthused, but neither girl moved closer. They were indifferent, framing their faces with symmetrical cocked elbows, gossiping about their jobs. Sam sat with Chloe for a half-hour: petting her, scratching her ears. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” she cooed. She wondered if the dog knew she had puppies inside of her or if they would surprise her. “I feel very connected to you,” she whispered, looking into Chloe’s eyes. “It’s okay,” she whispered, “I’m here.
        Chloe began to breathe heavily and pant. Her body contracted.
        “I think it’s happening,” Sam warned. She saw the beginning of a wet pink thing come out of Chloe’s butt and cried, “It’s happening! It definitely is!”
        Benny and Allison scrambled to the floor.
        “Ew, it looks like it’s shitting,” Benny scowled.
        “Shut up,” said Sam, “Don’t say that!”
        “Why?” Benny asked, “It’s true!”
        “Obviously,” Sam huffed, “Everybody in the world knows it’s true, but we’re not saying it, because it’s rude. It’s disrespectful to Chloe.”
        “Who’s ‘everybody in the world’?” Benny asked, “Is this room ‘the entire world’ to you?”   
        Sam dropped the issue. The dog gave birth.
        “She pooped out a puppy!” Allison cried.
        “Let me hold it,” said Sam. Her throat and mouth were very dry. Her voice had sand in it.    
        She moved to take the puppy out from under Chloe’s snout and Chloe bit her. She leaned her face right up in Chloe’s and told her “It’s okay, Chloe, it’s me. I’m just going to hold your baby for a second. It’s okay, he’s safe” and Chloe let her then.
        Benny said, “You’re so connected to the dog.”
        “I’m gonna go get the eyedropper,” said Allison.
        Sam held the new puppy in her left hand. He was as glossy and translucent as a baby mouse, a baby bird, but there was something in the weight of him- a yellow heft, the feeling of sunshine, a smile- that meant he was good and stood for something. He was a dog.
        “We have the same birthday,” Sam told the puppy.
        “I hadn’t thought of that,” said Benny, and Sam thought if a litter of puppies had been born on Benny’s birthday that’s all she would’ve been able to think about, You have the same birthday as my sister. For a moment she felt she might crack and in a cracked voice ask her sister where the hell her head was at and how the hell shit goddamn could she possibly not have made that connection, but such a confrontation would have called for the sort of bold she wasn’t and, stoned, a screen of dark energy thudded over her and she realized inside the ugliness why she’d come here, why she’d picked this— so they wouldn’t have had to think or speak of anything but the dog. And so, wisely, she dismissed it all.  
        “Touch his little ear,” she directed, and Benny tried to, but couldn’t do it. She flinched.

Chloe had four puppies: three boys, and one girl.

        “Should we name them John, Paul, George and Ringo?” Allison asked.
        “Only if Paul’s the girl,” said Sam as Benny said, “Yeah but Paul should be the girl.” It was a sweet moment; the pot had been a good idea. Benny wiggled her fingers up to Sam’s forehead and said “Psy-y-y-y-yychic traaaaaaansfereeeeennnnce” in a ghost voice.
        “Fine, Paul’s the girl,” said Allison, and they all waved hello at Paul the girl. “Hi, Paul!” they said sweetly, “Hi!”
        “I love Paul,” said Sam, “I relate to Paul.”
        “I love their skin,” said Allison, stroking John or George or Ringo’s back with her forefinger, “It feels like velvet, now that it’s dried off.”
        “I don’t really love them,” said Benny, “Sorry to be an ass about it, but I don’t. I’m just, like, not that into animals. They’re weird. They look like rats.”
        “Suit yourself,” said Sam, and snapped her fingers in a swooooosh, like a black girl.
        “Booyah,” said Benny drily.
        “This one’s gonna be Ringo,” said Allison. She picked up the only black puppy and draped him over the top of her forearm.
        “No, I think he’s George,” said Sam.
        “Okay,” she said, “I see that. Hi George! Is that guy John?” She jutted her chin out at the grey puppy.
        “Yeah, the grey one’s John.”
        “And the white one’s Ringo.”
        Paul, the girl, was black and white. And at the same time as they were all grey, black, and white, they were also pink. Sam picked up Paul and placed her on her forearm, copycatting Allison. She held Paul and her forearm up to George on Allison’s forearm and they play-acted, talking in baby voices, as if they were the dogs.
        “You guys are so lame,” said Benny, “I’m smoking more pot,” and they all smoked more pot. Sam lay herself down on the floor in starfish formation.
        “Can you do something?” she asked the room, “This is my weird birthday request.”
        “Maybe,” said Benny, giggling, “Probably yeah.”
        “Okay. This is weird. I’m high. But, like… can you put, like, one puppy on my, like… upper left arm, and then one on my upper right arm, and then one right here-” she tapped her chest, the center of her collarbone, “And then one on, like, my forehead? I kind of have a headache. I feel like that would make my headache go away. It sounds really peaceful.”
        “Sure,” said the girls.
        “Ringo’s going on your left arm,” said Benny.
        “You want Paul on your forehead?” asked Allison.
        “Yeah,” said Sam.
        “And George on your heart.”
        “George on my heart.”
        “And John, by default, on your right arm.”
        “Nobody talk to me,” said Sam, “Nobody say any words. I just need to be like this, for a second.”
         She could feel every puppy’s tiny heart beating through her skin like flicking dimes in unison. They reminded her of cinnamon rolls. She could smell Paul’s foody, tinny puppy smell, the closest to her nose, and she liked it; she wanted to love it. All it would take was more time and she’d love it. On her heart George yawned. She felt his tongue lap against her skin and she imagined this must be how a tree felt: a robin building its nest inside the crook of her stomach, quivery hyper squirrels scurrying back and forth across her arms, an owl settling in her hair. She felt an odd sensation of tears running down her face though she hadn’t noticed herself beginning to cry them, maybe she’d been in too deep of a trance, that’s so cool, this is so wow...
        “Ew Sam, Paul is peeing on your face!” Benny hollered.
        Allison screamed, and Sam felt Paul’s pee trickle down into her mouth and the pee was in her mouth and she screamed. Instinctively her reaction was to sit right up and smack her face and make a face and shake her hands in the air and chant “Ew, ew, ew” as she lifted herself off the ground with the heels of her hands, beginning to stand. She wanted only to run to the bathroom and wash her mouth out, but then she remembered the puppies, and looked down.
        Benny told her later Paul slid off her face and was a lump right away. It wasn’t the movement that killed her, it was the sound of the scream.

They put Paul in a Prada shoebox and tied a pale ribbon around it. They brought it into the bathroom and showed it to her. They told her they were going to take it to the park and bury it. They didn’t care about the puppy, really; what they wanted was to comfort her. They were trying to make the night lovely.

        “I don’t want to bury the fucking puppy in the park!” Sam cried.
        “Where do you want to bury it, then?” asked Allison. She passed Sam the box, and Sam swatted it away.
        “Get that away from me!” she cried. Her voice had fallen into a lower register with all the crying she was gulping on. Her face was so wet. “I hate that shit!”
        “Oh…”- Benny made a noise, realizing something. “It’s true,” she nodded, “She does hate that shit.”
        “What shit?” Allison asked.
        “EVERYTHING!” Sam screamed.
         “No, not everything,” Benny said, a hush-a for her sister, “Just, um.. the fashion industry. It’s bothering her that it’s in a Prada shoebox. Sam doesn’t think that, um, Prada should exist.”
        “Not just Prada!”
        “I know,” said Benny, “All of it.”
        “Oh, shit,” said Allison, “Well then, let’s definitely take it out of the Prada box.”
        Sam was calming down. She loved the girls for being so careful with her.
        “God, Benny,” she sniffed, “I can’t believe you put it in a fucking Prada box.”
         She wiped her nose on her forearm and Benny handed her a wad of toilet paper.
        “I know. We weren’t thinking. We just wanted to give it a nice… coffin. It was the nicest coffin we had on hand. On such short notice.”
        “Maybe I should taxidermy it,” said Sam, her voice still shaking like a child’s post-tantrum, “And save it forever as a memento… a reminder, of the fragility of life.”
        "Probably don’t do that,” said Benny.
        “I’m not going to.”
        “Chloe tried to eat it,” said Allison. 
        "To eat Paul?" 
        “A human would never do that,” said Sam.
        “Seriously,” Benny agreed.

“Can I braid your hair?” Benny asked.

         “Yes,” said Sam, “It’s a bit sweaty at the neck, though.”
         “I don’t mind,” said Benny. She climbed up on the couch behind her sister, resting either of her knees against either of Sam’s shoulders. Allison had gone off to bury Paul alone; “It’s gonna be a spiritual journey!” she insisted. Chloe nursed her three sons in the corner.
        “I know you hate Adam,” said Benny, who was bold in the first way.
        Sam tried to summon up a tactful response but could not. “Yeah,” she said, “I do. I hate him.”
        “Don’t worry,” Benny sighed, “I kind of hate him too. I’m not, like, mad at you for hating him. I just have to take his side while I’m around him. But, I mean, I get it. Like, this morning even, we were both getting ready, and he was like ‘Can I borrow some sockettes?’ I was like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’- like, a) what are sockettes?, b) I mean, I know what sockettes are, but like, be a fucking man, and 3) um… oh. Right. I don’t own sockettes. And lately he’s been pulling this shit on me, this bullshit, of wearing a newsboy cap. Like, honestly? Can my own fucking boyfriend, like, not wear a newsboy cap? Ew. Like, way to make yourself look like a weenie who I would never want to fuck ever; like, it’s not nineteen fucking twenty, like, whatever. Like, eight. It’s not 1928, it’s not 1951, it’s not any year it ever was when it was acceptable for men to wear newsboy caps. Like, it’s not fucking 1911. You’re not an actual newsie. As far as I’m concerned, the only men out of all human history who are ever not lame to me for wearing newsboy caps are newsies. Newsboys. So unless all of a sudden it becomes, like, the past, and you’re an orphan on the streets of New York City forced to sell newspapers so you can buy, like, a dinner roll, just stop. Just stop it now.”
        “Yeah, it definitely seems like you don’t like him very much,” Sam yawned, stretching her arms up to the sky. She waved a hand in front of her face and fluttered her eyes open and closed. “Sorry, sorry- tired. I mean, maybe you should, like, break up with him? You did say you hated him, like, a minute ago. Just a thought.”
        “I said I kind of hated him,” said Benny. She hopped off the couch, and pushed the coffee table out of the way with her foot. “Let’s lie. Can we just be sisters and, like, lie?”
        Sam nodded, and skidded her back along the front of the couch until her head was flush with the ground. Benny nestled herself into her shoulder, the two of them like chipmunks in a nest, curled up, a sloppy yin-yang.
        “He’s just so rich,” she said quietly, “I live in the sickest apartment, and I don’t even have to pay rent. Like, he wants to marry me, I think. I could be rich… forever! I don’t know, Sam, I don’t know. I don’t think I could ever do what you do. I just wasn’t born with a whole lot of dignity... I admire you, I do, I just, I just- what if this is what I want? What if I just am this?”
        “Well then that’s cool then, I guess. Who cares? Just go with it.”
        “Well… would you think less of me, if I just did that?”
        “Yes,” said Sam, “But I’m sure I’d move on with my life.”


  1. Killer first line, and it's the type of first line you forget about until you reach the point it foreshadowed and then you're caught by the tension and can't escape. I dig this story a lot, even beyond my love for anything Snoopy-related.

    I really like the way you personify objects, especially "The ice was making a very big deal out of itself clanking around against the glass."

    1. thank you! I cited this blog comment in a telephone conversation with my mother tonight. I mean that as a compliment in the highest regard.

    2. he's really right, this guy

  2. laura!!!! so so good!

  3. An impressive post, I just gave this to a colleague who is doing a little analysis on this topic. And he is very happy and thanking me for finding it. But all thanks to you for writing in such simple words. Big thumb up for this blog post!
    dog conditioner