The following Monday afternoon she called Martha. After the usual greetings, she said, "I know this is not the sort of question you want to answer, but can you tell me exactly what the veterinarian said about Perky's heart attack?"
"Nothing, really. Just that he was overweight and that predisposed him to it. He made me feel like I'd abused my baby."
"Nonsense. You took excellent care of him." So what if the middle-aged Basenji had been a bit chubby. He'd gotten regular exercise and had been fed expensive, nutritious dog food. In Emaline's opinion, that dog had eaten better than most people. "Did he offer any other possibilities. Besides a heart attack, I mean?"
"No. he seemed really sure of it. I wondered, because poor little Perky was already really sick when we got to the clinic. He was barely breathing."
"Did he do an autopsy?"
"Oh, gosh, Em, I couldn't have afforded that. You know how cranky Walt gets about how I spoil...spoiled Perky."
"Of course. I understand. It's just that... Martha, did the veterinarian ask about what he'd eaten in the last twelve hours?"
"Well, no, but I'd already told him. Perky had his usual supper."
"That's all?" With a peculiar sense of disappointment, Emaline twisted the phone cord around her forefinger. "No treats?"
"Well, sure. He always had treats after his supper. Just three, because they're higher calorie than his healthy food. But he loved them so." Her quick inhalation came clearly over the phone. "Em, do you think there might have been something wrong with his food?"
"Oh, you know me. I'm always looking for interesting stuff. It's probably nothing, but I'd like to know more about Perky's treats. What brand were they? And do you still have the package?"
"I tossed it. I couldn't bear to look at anything of his." A sniff punctuated the quavery words.
"Oh, well, then, it wasn't really important, anyhow. Just curiosity."
"Yeah, I know. You're worse than a cat. Oops, here comes Rachel. Gotta go." She hung up without giving Emaline a chance to say goodbye.
I'm probably imagining things. It's just coincidence. But all the rest of the day, she found herself wishing Martha hadn't tossed the remainder of Perky's treats. I'd really like to see an analysis.