Puffin (Story by Risa Peris)

It was more shadows than complete darkness. I could see outlines of things if they were very near me. I was legally blind. My parents, both lawyers and beholden to the written words I could not see, bought me Puffin for $20,000 when I was twelve and had lost most of my sight. Puffin was a Golden Retriever and a seeing dog. I had a cane too and, for some reason, felt more vulnerable and likely to be harmed with the cane than Puffin. People got mad if I hit their feet with the cane. But Puffin….he was apparently adorable and even though his vest said don’t touch people still petted him. Puffin was trained not to react to them. The best part of Puffin was that he sensed danger. 

I sleep with a lot of guys. I usually picked them up at a local dive bar next to my apartment building. Puffin sniffed all of them and would either do nothing or growl slightly. The growls were meant to alert me.I never knew what he was alerting me to. Was the guy scary looking? I went by the tone of voice. The best voices went back to my apartment. Puffin would sit like a king on his pillow beside the bed. Sometimes when I moaned he would come and lick my face. He didn’t know if I was in distress or not. 

One time I brought a guy home who claimed to breed hamsters. I remembered the silky smoothness of hamsters. Then the man’s tone of voice changed. I could detect viciousness. He ripped my clothes. I could feel him penetrate me. I screamed and fought harder. But I was shadowboxing. Puffin barked and then growled fiercely. The man left me on the floor and Puffin attacked. The man screamed and screamed. 

“You fucking dog. You fucking dog!” The man was severely distressed. I found my phone and spoke “Call 911.”

Turned out Puffin bit the man’s penis off. I was told by police it was reattached. 

Puffin was my best friend for life.