Alessandra Overton walked faster because it started to rain and
she had left her umbrella at home. It was 5pm. That meant noise,
stress and crowding because it was rush hour in Stockport, a suburb
of Manchester. Alessy, as she was called by her husband, made
her way through the crowd. Till about a year ago her daughter
Mary lovingly called her by that name too until she had disappeared
without a trace. In spite of wanted ads and a reward she hadn't
been found. Alessandra still wasn't over the disappearance of
her. Every day she hoped for the return of her daughter whose
birthday would be six days from now. She tended to call Mary HER
daughter as her husband never really cared for her anyway. He
only had his doberman "Harry" and the dog club on his
mind. Twice a week the dog lovers of the area met at their clubhouse.
There the members talked about their hobby, took trips and exchanged
tips about dogs. All in all quite an unusual club.
The red light was green and Alessandra squeezed her way across
the zebra crossing. What a mess. Everybody hurried home and once
someone bumped into her and almost knocked out of her hand the
gift-wrapped cardboard box which contained a huge gnawing bone
for the dog. Harry the doberman's birthday was tomorrow and that
bone was for him. Stan, Alessandra's husband, planned to give
it to him. All afternoon she combed butcher stores for a suitable
bone with some meat left on it. In the last shop she looked she
finally found a bone according to the wishes of her husband.
Up ahead was the bus stop. A bus just drove up. She ran because
she wanted to get a seat and it started to rain more heavily.
At home she put the package on the table in the hallway so that
Stan would see it right away when he got home. She didn't feel
like exchanging any words. She would rather have known where her
After a short while her husband came through the door. He spotted
the gift package right away. "Oh, thanks a lot," he
said, "but I've already decided a while ago to offer something
different to the dogs at the club. For the occasion all the dogs
would have something that way. I'll give Harry the bone for breakfast
tomorrow." That was just so typical for Stan and Alessandra
was boiling with anger about this decision but she didn't let
it show. That would have upset the apple cart. "Wow, that
will be some celebration at the club. I can't wait. I'll got to
bed right after dinner."
Alessandra had been thinking for quite some time if she should
get a divorce. He started to be more and more unbearable. In the
evenings he talked about the dog, at the most, or told stories
from the club. He never had time for her. So, Alessandra went
to bed early too.
The next morning Harry already sat next to the bed of his master
and waited patiently until he would wake up. When Harry turned
over and opened his eyes, the dog started whimpering. Immediately
Stan congratulated the dog to his birthday and petted him. Although
Alessandra was awake she preferred to pretend she was still asleep.
Stan lead Harry to the kitchen and put the gift package on the
breakfast table. Immediately Harry started sniffing and jumped
up on a chair, quite to the joy of Stan's who ate a bread with
marmalade. Harry was chewing on the wrapping and after about a
minute the juicy bone was in front of him and he gobbled it up.
"Alessy, you are invited to the club this afternoon too.
It's almost time and I have to run to the freezer storage real
quick. Look after Harry in the meantime. I don't want to take
"How can he be so enthusiastic about that dog," Alessandra
thought, "when Mary would turn nine in five days." She
thought of Mary again, where she could possibly be now and what
she was doing. The slam of the door interrupted her thoughts.
With a big bundle under his arm Stan returned. "Alessy, keep
Harry on the leash for a moment, please. I have to hide his surprise.
Is lunch ready soon?" "Yeah, yeah, yeah.". Stan
devoured lunch and to pass the time he took a little nap as if
he had to hide his nervousness.
Finally it was time to leave and Stan went ahead with the bundle
that had thawed by now. Alessandra would follow later on with
the dog. Stan didn't want the dog to smell the surprise in advance.
The reception at the club was happy; among the dog owners as well
as the dogs. "Oh, Mrs. Sandeford, your 'Roul' has gotten
big. How are the gums of your 'Lady', Mr. Dean? My, what honor,
'Queenie', hello," he said to a female dog that jumped up
on Stan. She probably smelled the meat. Barking mixed with revelations
about individual dogs and cheerful welcomes that were common in
the club on the birthdays of one of the dogs. "Let us start
the party right now," said Stan. The members went to the
clubhouse where a table with delicious things was prepared. They
sat down and the dogs roamed around the empty space in the room.
There were probably about eighteen dogs present. "Let us
drink to the health of Harry the dog and his owner. May they live
long and prosper!" spoke Mr. Pratt. "Thank you,"
Stan replied next to Harry, "I have a surprise too."
He unpacked the bundle he had brought along and a large plastic
bag stuffed with meat was revealed. "Here, this is for you.
Queenie, Bobby, Lady, Roul!" he shouted and distributed the
pieces of meat among the dogs accompanied by enchanted exclamations
of the guests. Alessandra, who pretty much had stayed in the background
so far, suddenly turned as pale as cheese. Wasn't there blond
hair flying through the air on a chunk of bone? Hair just like
Mary used to have? And wasn't the name MARY engraved on this wristband
that hung from a bone with meat? "Noooooooo! Oh, nooo! Stan,
how could you! You, you...! Did you have to do this to me!? No,
no!" Crying hysterically she collapsed. "Isn't that
a successful surprise?" asked Stan to distract the club members.
With relish the dogs gnawed on the arms, the legs, the head and
chewed the meat off of the lean spine. The club members took care
of Alessandra Overton without knowing what was wrong with her.
It seemed as if the bones weren't to the dogs' liking for after
the feast the skeleton of Mary Overton remained.
Copyright © October 1980, Wasty, The Birthday Of A Dog
German title: Hundefutter
Reading time: approx. 5 1/2 minutes
Last updated February 12, 2001 by Martin Mathis, e-mail lastbandit.com