‘Daar is de hond’ (‘There is the dog’) by Maartje Wortel

Suggested by author Jan van Mersbergen, who is on the editorial team of De Revisor, but also a generous connector in the Dutch literary scene and an infamous defender in the Amsterdam Saturday League.

Another delightfully absurd story involving pets. A couple find an original way to cope with the death of their dog, adding a new dimension to their own lives and offering an intriguing take on the Dutch expression “niks menselijks is ons vreemd” (we are all prone to human frailty).She asked him on a Wednesday evening. He had swum his lengths at the local pool. When he returned, she said: “I miss the dog.”
“I know,” he said. His hair was still wet. Fifty lengths he’d swum. To stay fit, now that he no longer had to walk the dog and throw sticks around.
Sanderijn was in the kitchen, leaning against the fridge. She had fried potatoes, sliced iceberg lettuce, laid it out on plates.
‘Could you imitate him?’ she asked. She stroked Hans’ head, ruffling his wet hair.
Hans did not reply. He just gave her a quizzical look.
“The dog,” she said. “I really miss him.”
“His barking,” she said. “The fun we had.”
“I’m not going to imitate the dog,” said Hans. “The dog is dead.”
“Yes,” said Sanderijn. “Exactly. It’s so quiet around here.”
She kept quiet for a moment to emphasize the silence.
“Just bark once,” she said. “To hear what it was like. Try it, for me.”
Hans barked. It sounded lame. He didn’t sound like a man who knew how to imitate a barking dog.
“No,” said Sanderijn. “You can do better than that.”
Hans barked again. Much better this time. Sanderijn took a step forward.
“Down,” she said.
“That’s enough now,” said Hans. “Is there any meat?”
“Down,” Sanderijn said once more. She looked strict, raised her finger and put Hans in his place, just as she had done with the dog.

In De Revisor, Biannual Edition 2011-2. Available online in Dutch here