This group of kids ranging from four to six years old were my captive audience as I gave my dog a bath in the garage. Cohen, least exciting name for a dog, was roughly 30 pounds. His fleas were 70 percent of his body weight, I suppose, for I felt those blood sucking grapes behind his ears, and along his back, and between his toes, and under his arm pits and leg pits, and all over his wet body. Those parasites felt dreadful as my gloves lathered Cohen's infested torso. He was more of a tree now, I imagine, than he was a dog. And he bore the most vicious fruit for they were pallid and had multiple legs that thrashed as I picked one off him for inspection.
I asked one member of my audience, a girl of four I imagine, if she had a dog. That smile on her face as she shook her head was a beautiful thing of innocence. What about a cat, then? She said no because they were too poor for pets. And then I had half a mind to gift her with one of Cohen's fleas to get her started. And Cohen, being the sweetest plagued thing with feet that he is, I'm certain Cohen wouldn't mind sharing. He's a darling, I tell you.
Cohen died a slow death later that year. The vet said that rat urine inflamed his liver to bursting, and my heart continues to bleed for his presence, fleas and all.