I am sitting on the kitchen floor clipping Jack the Terrier’s toenails. Hazel the Weimaraner is curious and then delighted, and she quickly turns it into a game, tracking down each new tiny bit of clipped nail and eating it. Jack watches her from my lap, seemingly concerned, and Kallan (who is sitting above me at the kitchen counter), takes up the narrative from Hazel’s point of view …
“What? This is me flirting.”
“OK, well it just annoys me when you tell me I frighten you.”
“Listen, boy. This is how my love works, and if you’re going to be all babyish about it, we can just call this thing between us over.”
“Hold still … let her clip another one.”
“What? Toenail scrap-nibbling is too a thing.”
“A flirty thing … did you see how I caught that one mid-air? Yes, this is a flirty thing. It’s a piece of you, and now I’ve eaten it. How is that not flirty?”
“Stop being so wimpy. It’s not like I’m nibbling them off of your actual feet. These are freebies. You don’t need them anymore.”
“Later, you’ll be all sleepy and curled up next to me, and you’ll look up at me and ask Why does your breath smell like toenails? And …”
“Shut up … in my story you haven’t seen me eat the toenails. Geez, could you be less boyfriendy?”
“OK, so you will look up at me, and you’ll sleepily ask, Why does your breath smell like toenails? And I’ll be all … STOP INTERRUPTING WITH FEAR-TALK … I’ll be all …”
“Did you see how I flipped in the air to catch that toenail bit? You have to admit, that was pretty impressive.”
“OK, so you will ask why my breath smells like toenails, and I will say …”
“No, in this story, you do not have bloody-stump feet … I SAID STOP INTERRUPTING WITH FEAR-TALK.”
“Just shut up for one second.”
“OK, you will ask why my breath smells like toenails, and I will say, I ate them … because I love you, boy.”
“THERE ARE NO BLOODY PAW-STUMPS IN THIS STORY. Why do I even talk to you?”
“I caught another one mid-air! My flirtiness is off the charts, boy!”
Having finished clipping all of Jack’s toenails, I release him, and he scrambles to right himself and reassert some dignity. Hazel stares at him for a second and then races away. Jack shakes himself and stands, his head cocked worriedly, listening as Hazel barrels through the house.
Jack braces himself for her return, but as she weighs quite a bit more than he does and has velocity on her side, he is doomed. Hazel comes flying into the room and throws Jack to the ground, rolling him over and pinning him beneath her. She holds him tightly and shoves her nose into his defensive maneuvers to grab at one of his front feet.
She starts nibbling giddily on his just-clipped toenails.
Jack lets out a little shriek of questioning terror.
“BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, BOY!”