The Loser has never had a pet, though he's taken care of a few. Sixteen years ago, he took care of an acquaintance's cat while he was housesitting for his traveling parents in the suburbs.
The cat had a fully developed personality. When you said its name, it answered you. It talked like a person would, except in its own language, of course. It was like the elderly Chinese people the Loser met in remote villages when living in China in the mid '80s, people who would chatter away to the Loser because they had no concept of people not speaking their language.
|This isn't the dog the Loser will take care of but it looks just like her.|
One August evening, the Loser let the cat, which lived in the city, outdoors to explore and hunt. It wasn't the first time, but it would be the last. There were weeks of posting signs, calling shelters, making grim drives on local roads looking for a small body. It never showed up, and the Loser was certain it had been killed, though he doesn't usually give feelings and hunches real weight.
He lied to owner, telling her it had escaped and that he was profusely sorry. She accepted this, though she was sad.
The cat was ten years old at the time, meaning it would have been dead for at least half a decade by now, but when the Loser thinks about it he feels as sharp a pang of sorrow and guilt as he did at the time.
Since then, he has made it his policy not to have pets or people in his life.
The dog might be fun for a few weeks, but there's no way in hell it's setting an unleashed foot outside. No goddam way. Not even once.