Ben wiped the tears from his eyes as he stroked Rex's head for the last time. The vet put her hand on his shoulder and gave it a few soft pats.
Rex sighed, closed his eyes, and Ben felt his body go limp. His cheeks burned and his eyes clouded over with tears.
Suddenly, Rex's eyes shot open. He rolled over on the cold metal examination table and let out a short "yip" at Ben. Ben blinked the tears away. The vet gasped and took a step back.
Rex yipped again, his tail wagging furiously.
Ben pushed Rex off of his lap as he fumbled with the remote. Rex left a thin gruel of slime behind as he slid down to the carpet. He looked back at Ben and whined.
"I'm sorry, boy," Ben said. "I think you need hosed off again."
Rex glared at Ben with the one eye he had left and yipped. The it sounded more like a whistle, now that the flesh on the left side of his head had sloughed off.
Ben had stepped on it one day on his way to work.
"You don't need to eat anymore, remember?" Ben said. "You just make a mess."
It was true. Ben had stopped feeding Rex when his lower belly burst after a plateful of Christmas dinner leftovers.
Grandma Margaret threw up what seemed like gallons of mulled wine into the poinsettia pot by the door.
Rex whined, and Ben sighed and slipped him a piece of pizza crust from the table. Rex bolted it down, and it promptly fell on the floor.
Ben poured the bucket of goo that had been Rex over his garden. He'd been carrying the bucket outside, each morning, for the past six months or so out of habit.
Occasionally, the bucket shivered and made a noise that sounded something like a burp. That hadn't happened for at least two weeks.
He knelt by the pool of slop sinking into the soil around his tomatoes and had a good, solid cry. It was getting dark earlier and earlier now, and the air was starting to develop a slight chill.
Ben turned to head back inside the house when he heard a chorus of all-too-familiar yips. He glanced back at the garden.
The tomato plants were swaying - no, *wagging*, in unison, their leaves furling and unfurling.
Ben sighed, then smiled. He went inside, grabbed a can of Alpo, and spooned it out into the garden.