Ralphie and Mildred
Linde was always there to greet us with Ralphie on a chain. When we challenged her about that cold metal around the neck of her "baby" she would chortle and say that even the sweetest baby needed a certain amount of discipline.
After five years together, Ralphie ran away and was found strolling the streets of Egbertshire, narrowly escaping being hit by lorries and push carts that sped around the round about.
What a stroke of luck it was that Ralphie knew to scratch on that green door near the end of Periwinkle Lane after three days without anything besides stale scraps of bread outside the croissant shop.
Mildred Crohn was at first intimidated by this creature that, when properly fed, weighed more than three quarters her weight. But he suddenly crouched on the ground and whimpered tragically. She closed the door and took a deep breath. Mildred did not believe in omens, but she suspected it was destiny scratching at her door and soon returned with sausages and porcelain bowl painted with purple pansies filled with water.
An eight year partnership had begun. And more than once on their walks they actually passed Linde in the public market who made no eye contact with Ralphie and he made no move until there was a healthy distance when he looked back and snarled.
Both Ralphie and Mildred lot most of the use of their eyesight with the passage of years. Mildred, whose early years had been dedicated to animal portraits let her canvases and brushes gather dusts, sometimes stroking Ralphie's tail that reminded her of the many bristles that she had once dipped into pallets of magenta and amber.
They never knew exactly how long Mildred had been dead when they found her clutching a copy of Collier's on her bed. Ralphie's head rested on her ankles, as if to protect her soul until it safely left the room. He lived only another week and a half as Mildred's family began organizing her modest estate. Though he surely could not see it, Ralphie spent his waking hours with his head pointed upwards towards a photo of a young Mildred with a painting of one of her subjects all those years ago.