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Three Dog Stories

Three Dog Stories, new fiction by Quinn Gancedo, with art by Sophie Herxheimer.



Lost Dog

When I was a kid we had a dog. At night we’d be watching TV and it would perch up by the window and stare out at the mountains behind our house. You’d call its name and it would keep on staring like something was burning out there.

Inevitably, the dog got out.
We put up flyers. Little xeroxed images of the dog framed by child scribblings.

My mother and I drove around the neighborhood looking. Past the high school and down through the stretch of flat-roofed houses where people sat on their porches drinking in beer and sunlight. We drove like this, an hour a day for a week.

By the old hardware store I saw the dog dragging its nose through a heap of garbage and I said nothing. After that we didn’t have a dog anymore.

Years later my mother was drunk at my father’s birthday party. We got to talking about the week we drove around looking for our dog and she told me that she saw it too. She saw it sniffing at a dirty sock behind the laundromat and just couldn’t bring herself to speak up.


Dog Prayers

At night, my dog lies waiting for the neighbor’s dog to begin barking.

The neighbor’s dog begins barking, at which point my own dog bolts to my window and barks in response.

This moment is always incredibly loud.

Here, I rise from my bed and grab her by the collar and lead her back to her bed which is on the ground next to my bed.

Her face when I do this is a caricature of animal guilt.
In the morning I see my neighbor pulling in his garbage cans. “Did you hear our dogs last night?” he asks me.

I did hear our dogs, of course.

“It’s crazy.” he says. “Us people pray towards the sky. But dogs man, they pray straight at each other.” He laughs.

Still my dog prays every night. Sometimes the force of her prayer is so great that I have to throw the whole of my weight into her and keep her there awhile, until her breathing is steady and her eyes are again huge with shame.

Sometimes I wonder if I should get on my knees and join her.


Dog Weather

In those days what filled the space between us was the dog.

This was the year of weather, when winds came and swept up all the neighborhood dogs. Dogs clogging rain gutters. Whole families crushed by falling dogs. On the news they just shook their heads. An old lady died in a windstorm somewhere nearby and when they opened her up they found her lungs filled with golden hair.

In the beginning we used the leash to tie her to the bedpost. After one of our more explosive arguments we began using chains.

We fed her high density food in order to hinder flight capability. Rice, meat, milk and potatoes. But she just got lighter. Looking at her body you’d think she wanted to go.

We made her wear a shirt of rocks. We cast her feet in cement. We held her down at night, the both of us, sweating through the effort.

We considered doing nothing as an exercise in taking control of a difficult situation. We decided to be open to the possibility that the weather would pass.




Quinn Gancedo lives with his partner and dog in Los Angeles, California.  He is currently an MFA candidate at the California Institute of the Arts.  This is his first published work.


Drawings by Sophie Herxheimer, are from The Listening Forest, a project undertaken in residence with Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, 2014-15. An artist’s book, made in collaboration with The Henningham Family Press, available at The Bookartbookshop or via Sophie, at her website: sophieherxheimer.com.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, August 3rd, 2015.