The Stuffed Dog
When he was 16, his dog died. He loved his dog more than anything, so he got it stuffed.
He got his dog stuffed in an attentive pose and mounted to a board and he put it in his room. And as he got older he took his stuffed dog with him wherever he moved.
He talked to his stuffed dog a lot, just like when it was alive and they were both happy. Sometimes he hugged his dog like he did when it was alive. Sometimes, as he passed it in his living room, he’d stop to scratch it behind the ear or under the chin and tell it what a good boy it still was.
As his stuffed dog got older, he had to touch it up. Sometimes the skin around the eyes and the nose started to become unglued and he’d have to meticulously glue it back. Sometimes, as his colors began to fade, he carefully touched-up his stuffed dog with carefully mixed and applied latex paint.
Sometimes, somebody would tell him he ought to get a new dog – a dog that was alive. They’d say there had to be dogs that were alive that would be as good – maybe even better – than the dog he had. They even tried convincing him that nearly any dog that was alive would be better than his old dog, dead and stuffed. They tried impressing upon him the value and difference between a thing being dead and a thing being alive.
They even tried convincing him that having a caring woman around might be better than a dead, stuffed dog. They tried convincing him that it would be harder finding a loving woman who’d accept a man who plays with a dead, stuffed dog than a man who doesn’t. They tried convincing him with multiple reasons why it might be time to move on to anything better than his dead, stuffed dog.
But he wouldn’t have any of it. He only loved what he already knew. He only loved what was still easy to love. He realized a new dog might not love him like the old one did. And he realized any woman might not either. And he simply couldn’t have any of that.