The Life and Times of Napoleon

Less than a month ago, my family said goodbye to one of our dogs. He was 16 years old and had been losing the battle with a brain tumor since November last year. We knew it was finally time to say goodbye because he would get up and eat breakfast each day and after that just sit down and stare at a wall. He had zero enthusiasm for anything. He was also struggling to walk and use the bathroom. His quality of life was gone.

Napoleon, before things went sideways, 2020

Despite that, it was still hard to say goodbye. My husband and I only have one child, and our pets are like our babies. And I know 16 years is a nice life for a dog, but I must be selfish because I don’t care. I wanted him to live longer. It’s been a few weeks and I still have to stop myself from getting him a plate at meals times like I do for the other pets.

In addition to missing him like crazy, I’ve been thinking back on his life with us. He had a good life. I’m not saying that to sound superior. We take good care of our pets. They are important to us.

The absence of Napoleon has left a dachshund sized hole in my heart. I wish we could have had more time together, and I hope he knows how much he was loved.

Napoleon was the first dog we adopted. We actually adopted him after we went on a 9 day camping trip to Yellowstone. At the time in 2004, my husband and I were young and newly married. We went to Yellowstone and camped, really camped, in a tent, without showers, on the ground. While we were there we ran trails, (this was a long time ago when I still ran), and we swam in the lakes. We saw so many people camping with their dogs, and on that trip we decided we were going to get a dog so that next year when we went camping, we would have one too.

Shortly after that trip, we adopted Napoleon. I don’t know how we decided on a mini dachshund, but when I saw him, I knew he was ours. We brought him home and introduced him to our cat, Electra.

Napoleon on his first day with us and me circa 2004

The next spring, we decided to go camping again. We were excited because we would finally get to take Napoleon with us. We had been taking him running on trails throughout the fall and spring and he enjoyed that, so we figured he would enjoy camping.

The first night of our camping trip, he couldn’t sleep. He paced and paced the tent looking for a real bed. (At home he slept in bed between my husband and I). Not only would he not sleep because sleeping on the ground was not his style, he acted like being outside was too hot. He clearly wanted to know where the AC was. My husband and I thought he was hilarious. We figured he would adjust; we were planning on staying 5 days.

The second day of our trip, we went swimming in the lake, and of course we took Napoleon with us. It turns out he was an excellent swimmer. He looked like a river otter and he was pretty fast.

Napoleon, the indoor dog

My husband and I would take turns carrying him out into the lake, and the other would wait closer to the shore. Then, we would release Napoleon and he swam to other person. After about the sixth time of this, Napoleon figured out our game and instead of swimming to the waiting arms of my husband, he veered right and went for the shore. Once on shore, he took off running.

My husband jumped out of the lake and followed. I got out of the lake and waited for them to return, but after twenty minutes, they didn’t show up. I gathered our clothes, picnic things, and floats and waddled my way down the path back to the campground. On the way back, I passed a family heading to the lake. I asked them if they’d seen a tall man and a short dog running on the path. They laughed and pointed back towards camp informing me that they were all the way back at our campsite.

I found them both there. My husband was laughing. Napoleon was supposed to be our camping companion. He HATED camping. He wanted his bed and indoor air, but most of all, he didn’t want to swim.

We didn’t stay a full five days and cut that trip short to three days. After that, we didn’t take Napoleon camping anymore. He didn’t turn out to be outdoorsy, and that’s okay.

He was still the best dog ever.

Big Yawn for Napoleon, and yes, that’s his bed

February 2021 prompt

I am so behind this month… but I’m trying to get back on track. I don’t know what the deal is. I think it’s the weather. I just don’t feel like doing anything. I’ve spent way too much time watching tv lately.

In an effort to get things back on track and not start March off behind, here is this month’s short story prompt:

He wasn’t sure how he was able to do the math problems in his head like that. He just closed his eyes and the numbers found their places, like trained dancers, or like…

Complete the Story

Just like last year, my short stories each month will be connected; however, this year I’m starting with new characters and a new world. If you missed the first story, click the following link to get caught up: Magical Lineage.

In addition to being connected, I try to write a minimum of 1000 words for each short story and my goal is to post it by the end of the month.

If you want to write a story too using the prompt, I would love to read someone else’s take!

Happy reading and writing this month!

Magical Lineage

January 2021’s short story of the month (sorry it’s late)


I sat down next to her on the couch. It was time to start telling the truth. But I couldn’t just dive into the heart of the matter, so I started with the little things. I told her that her father and I had loved her from the very first time we saw her, and that we couldn’t imagine having any one but her as a daughter.

She just sat there glaring at me with that smug teenage face full of angst. She wanted me to say it. For some reason I didn’t understand, it was like she was trying to draw it out of me by sure force of will. She didn’t give up until I told her the truth, no matter how much it hurt both of us to finally say it.

One week prior

I didn’t like the idea of Daisy-May going to school. I mean, Daisy. She had asked me all summer to stop calling her Daisy-May. She was starting high school and she wanted to go by Daisy now, just Daisy. I told her that her name was Daisy-May, like I always did when she mentioned it, but after the first dozen or so arguments and the sighs that tugged at my heart strings, I relented and started calling her Daisy. Her father called her sweetpea or princess or sweetheart, and she never challenged him about it.

I needed to accept that Daisy and I were now standing on two sides of a battle that I didn’t want to be in. She was a teen and growing up, and I, her still cool and very hip mother, was in fact neither hip nor cool.

Until this year, I’d taught Daisy at home. The schools were decent enough in our neighborhood, but I knew my Daisy was a special kid, and I wanted to teach her myself. Until this summer, she hadn’t asked to go to public school, but once it came up, I knew she wouldn’t back down.

Her father and I had several fights about it. Finally, I decided I couldn’t argue anymore. We enrolled Daisy in school, and today was her first day at public high school. I figured she would come home and tell us all about her new friends, that we would not approve of, but say nothing about.

I wasn’t prepared for what she asked when she walked in the door that afternoon. The whole day I wandered around the house cleaning things and picking up things, but there wasn’t much to do. By lunch time I was lost and alone in my own house.

I tried to read a book but ended up re-reading the same sentence over and over and finally gave up. I tried to watch tv but nothing held my attention. I ended up daydreaming and not accomplishing anything for the rest of the day.

Daisy came in the door and the smile I spied as she came up the walk, instantly disappeared the moment she looked at me.

“Why is my magic different than yours and dads?” Daisy asked. She didn’t wait for an answer. She went up the stairs making it a point to stomp each and every step. She stomped down the hall and slammed her door.

I just stood there until my husband came home a couple of hours later. I didn’t say anything to him. I burst into tears. He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me.

“Did something happen today?” he asked.

I kept sobbing.

“It couldn’t have been that bad,” he said. “She just went to school.”

I tried to collect myself and through sobs that I couldn’t get under control, I managed to say, “She knows.”

“Knows what?” he asked. All he had to do was look at me to know what I meant.

The next day Daisy went to school. I spent the day lost in my house again. When she came home, she asked the same question, but I didn’t answer. I just shook my head and she stomped off to her room.

That continued for the whole first week of school. On Saturday morning, she sat down at the table and I placed a plate of waffles in front of her. She sighed and went to the living room and slumped with folded arms.

At first I kept moving things around in the kitchen, but I could feel her staring at me the whole time.

I sat down next to her on the couch. It was time to start telling the truth. But I couldn’t just dive into the heart of the matter, so I started with the little things. I told her that her father and I had loved her from the very first time we saw her, and that we couldn’t imagine having any one but her as a daughter.

Then I launched into a lecture on how magical powers are inherited and that magical families would arrange marriages to increase the chances of having children with multiple forms of magic. These children were usually stronger casters than those who could only control one element.

And then she asked the question I’d been dreading since she was little when her powers first manifested. She had earth magic. My husband used water magic and I had time magic.

“Am I adopted?” she asked, punctuating each word to drive home her point. She already suspected the answer, but for some reason she wanted me to admit it.

I couldn’t say the words. She didn’t feel adopted. She was ours. She’d always been ours. I didn’t know how to explain it to her. Because she wanted the truth.

I looked at her and didn’t just see the almost fifteen year old sitting next to me. I saw her the day we brought her home, only a few days old. And I saw her covered in icing on her first birthday. I saw the first time she fell and skinned her knee. I saw the time she chopped her hair and we had to chop the rest to even it out. I saw her face from only a week ago when she was nervous excited about her first day of school. And then I saw her now. She wanted to know who she was.