Photograph by Sara Ghahramani
SEVEN MONTHS, SEVEN DAYS by Babak Lakghomi
First, he dreams of a young man who wants to be their dog. They haven’t been successful in adopting a real dog and the man wants to use this opportunity. All his life the young man has wanted to be somebody’s dog. The man follows all commands and needs very little training. But it’s awkward to treat him as a dog.
After they’ve asked him to leave, the man shows up at their place again with gifts to make them take him back. They refuse the gifts. Unfortunately, he’s not the right fit for them. When they say this the man silently weeps. They’re worried that the man will try to come back to their life, so they change all the locks.
They continue applying for adoption of different dogs. They wait a long time. Nothing happens. Every night in bed Tara shows him videos of dogs.
“Why can’t we have a dog?” Tara asks.
He pictures himself walking a dog early on a foggy morning.
“Come on girl,” he says to himself.
“Good girl,” he says.
They wait for the dog for so long that they name her Godot.
The fosters send them photos and videos of the dog every day.
“She won’t want to leave you alone for a moment,” the foster mother says.
“We’ve told her she is coming to live with Tara,” the foster mom says.
They buy her toys and treats. Packages for the dog arrive from all over the country. They get the dog a bed, bone marrow, a rawhide.
They make his study into the dog’s room.
It is cold and gloomy on the day they pick up the dog. They’re early at the park, where the fosters will give her up.
Grey figures push their carts. All shops are closed. Nobody is on the street.
Another foster parent gives up another dog. The dog keeps looking back at the fosters as he leaves with the new owners. The new owners pull on his leash and get him to go with them using treats. He eats the treats and moves in the direction they want, but he still keeps looking back at the fosters. The fosters leave the park in the opposite direction, the man touching the woman’s shoulder.
Godot is afraid of stairs. When they bring her home, he has to pick her up and carry her. The dog makes sad cries. She is so fragile in his arms despite her size.
On their walks, the dog keeps pulling. She sniffs every electrical pole and fire hydrant. When she pulls, he becomes motionless like a tree, and the dog looks back at him.
Some people look away as they pass, but some start talking to him. This attention is new for him. Someone asks his name in addition to the dog’s.
They set up a schedule to train the dog. Teach her different commands every day. Whoever works with the dog on that day checks a box. The first day all the boxes are checked.
The dog eats her food in several seconds.
One night, Tara takes the dog for a walk, and she jumps at her, bites her arm.
Tara calls him right away. He says he will come there. He will pick them up. But she can’t describe where they are.
The next day she shows him the bruises, blue and black on her thighs and arms.
The next two times he takes the dog out himself. He wears a thick jacket. Under his jacket, he wears long sleeves. But nothing happens. Back at the house, he has to carry her up again.
At the study, she sits by his feet and paws at him asking to be petted.
They’re walking on a green field. The three of them. She starts biting her leash and jumping at them. They try to distract her with treats but she gets more aggressive. She bites and grabs Tara’s arm, not letting go this time.
“Sit Godot, sit,” he says and when she doesn’t follow, he kicks her.
“Don’t do that again,” Tara tells him, her voice loud and shaking.
On the way back, they don’t talk. Tara walks the dog. He walks ahead of them.
Back at home, the dog spreads herself on the floor and asks to be petted.
They begin to leave her alone in her room for longer durations.
The next day as he is walking her, a woman working on a yard approaches to pet her.
“She isn’t friendly,” he says.
“I’ve grown up on a farm,” the woman says. “I’ve been kicked by cows!”
The woman pets the dog and the dog wags her tail and lies on the grass, showing her belly.
“She looks pretty friendly to me,” the woman says.
He pulls her leash and they go back home.
On their walk the next day, the dog jumps him again. They keep walking, and the woman is again in the yard.
Godot gets excited when she sees the woman.
“Hello my friends,” the woman says.
“She’s a little jumpy today, be careful,” he says.
“I’ve trained hundreds of puppies,” says the woman. “Aren’t you lovely, dear? Aren’t you a lovely pup?”
“Godot! Let’s go!”
He tugs at the leash and the dog whimpers as they leave.
He dreams the dog is running with him. She is running at his speed. They’re running on a green field.
When they get home, the dog is tired and lays down on her bed.
“I thought you’d like to run more,” he says to the dog.
“Yes, but it was so hot,” the dog says.
He brings her a bowl of water and watches her drink it.
“Thank you, I was so thirsty,” says the dog.
On the morning of the day that they return her to the shelter, she stares at him. He thinks she looks like she is crying. He wonders if another family would adopt her.
This time, they put her in a crate in the backseat. It’s cold and rainy like the day they brought her in.
They put a bone into her crate. She doesn’t want it. She makes sad sounds and Tara cries.
“I wish we hadn’t put her in the crate,” Tara says. “This is the last time. She could be sitting in the back with one of us.”
After two days, he vacuums the study and mops the floor. He disassembles the crate, the baby gate, the playpen, and puts them in the closet. He removes the covers from the dog bed and throws them in the washer.
The dog’s hair is still on the bed.
The toys—he does not pack them yet.
The room still smells of her. It’s kind of a sweet smell, a smell of wet wool and raw flesh.
Babak Lakghomi is the author of South (forthcoming from Dundurn Press, August 2023) and Floating Notes (Tyrant Books, 2018). He lives and writes in Toronto.