Fang’s internment was a momentous affair. Everyone showed, even Dr. Cobbam, whose refusal to replace an arthritic hip socket with stainless had no doubt hastened Fang’s end, and demanded of my final vigil the full, grim measure of devotion. I still clutched the Polaroid from the morgue: the embalming staff all in white, professionally long-faced next to the ill-named gladioli; the deceased, lying in state, his fine old neck set off by a taffeta ribbon. The sound of sod hitting the casket startled me: I thought I saw his little canine soul escape, a brown and white lozenge airlifted by his own revolving tail. I would never see him again.

Mr. Mooney of the pet store, purveyor of fine rawhide cigars, intoned the final prayers, dogs to dust, cats to ashes, but I did not hear them. A huge pair of wing-tips floated out from under his short pants-legs like a catamaran split in two. Mrs. Mooney wept soggily by his side, stifling her peck sniffles, despising me for choosing elegy over doggerel: