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“It’s not that bad,” she says. “He only does it when he is anxious or excited.”

She looks around the living room with a sigh. It is as if it has been under attack by a hungry grizzly bear right before being hit by an earthquake. Wallpaper and curtains in rags, furniture overthrown and gnawed on, stuffing coming out of all cushions, the carpet frazzled in patches, and it smells like pee. In the corner, the TV shows snow through the spiderweb of the broken screen.

“But he’s a chihuahua,” I say, “and you’ve had him for seven years.”

Music pairing: Lie by Lukas Graham

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