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"Dakota," in Paws and Reflect: A Special Bond between Man and Dog
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Jeffrey gives an overview of the book:

Paws and Reflect explores and celebrates the special and powerful bond between gay man and dog through twenty-five stories of personal experiences in this well-crafted collection. Touching, powerful, and often humorous, this is a must-read for all dog lovers. My essay, "Dakota," is included in this anthology.
Read full overview »

Paws and Reflect explores and celebrates the special and powerful bond between gay man and dog through twenty-five stories of personal experiences in this well-crafted collection. Touching, powerful, and often humorous, this is a must-read for all dog lovers.

My essay, "Dakota," is included in this anthology.

Read an excerpt »

I honestly didn’t know what to think when Dakota started acting out. Suddenly, my perfectly behaved dog was peeing on anything in the house that was new to him. Whenever we turned our backs, he went down to the basement to find a new box to mark. He also took to eating the cats’ food, which explained his fishy breath.

One evening, before we went to bed, we decided to put him in the laundry room for the night to at least keep him from peeing on the carpet. It was an unnerving surprise the next morning to find him standing at the foot of the staircase when we came down—and to find the laundry room door gouged up, wide open, and some well-chewed dirty laundry scattered across the floor.

In my mind, I thought I must be a terrible parent. This was like that mother you see in a grocery store with the child who’s screaming out of control, clutching the candy rack and refusing to let go. And I figured Mike was thinking the same thing, because after the laundry room incident, each conversation was tense with all the things we weren’t saying to each other: Why couldn’t I control my dog? Why couldn’t he lighten up?

Dogs being the intuitive creatures they are, Dakota picked up on all this. I didn’t know dogs could frown, until Dakota started slinking around with a long face, his head down. My child was miserable, and it was all my fault. I had taken him away from the only stable home he’d likely ever known, and he was letting me know that he didn’t like it.

My friend Ryan said that our blended household reminded him of The Brady Bunch, only with pets instead of kids. If that’s the case, then Dakota was my Jan. I guess that made me Carol, and I wondered what Mrs. Brady would have done if she were forced to choose between her new husband and her troubled child.

My vet said Dakota needed time to acclimate himself to the new house. “He’s just trying to get it to smell like him,” she explained. “Once he’s made his mark on it, he should settle down.”

My dog, it seemed, was a drama queen. I have no idea where he could have picked up that trait.

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Note from the author coming soon...

About Jeffrey

Jeffrey Ricker's first novel, Detours, was published in 2011 by Bold Strokes Books. His second novel, The Unwanted, is out now. His writing has appeared in the anthologies Paws and Reflect,...

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Published Reviews

Feb.27.2009

"...a spiffy collection about men wooing and winning men. ... it's the newcomers that give this fine book its the-future-of-queer-lit-is-good edge. Among them: Josh Helmin on high school attraction, 'Nathan...

Oct.12.2010

"...It is rare that I am given so much to think about from having read a story. For that I owe Jeffrey Ricker a great deal. Even more than that, this story is written in a way that once I began to read it,...