The next morning, I was greeted with some mercifully good news upon waking up. My tablet buzzed, and an automated message informed that the quarantine was loosening somewhat. Public places weren't opening up really yet, but otherwise, visiting other people was alright.

I pushed against my lethargy, and sent Jackie a text, simply asking if she wanted to go for a walk.

She responded surprisingly quickly, with a simple yes, and then another text that she'd be waiting outside my house in a half an hour.

I got out of bed, and took a shower, going through all that now entailed as quickly as I could. Despite the annoyance of getting all sopping wet, I was getting more and more adjusted to my fur - and as I was blow drying it, I found myself having a hard time imagining myself without it. Somehow the idea of having nothing covering my body... felt unnatural.

I shook off the thought, and finished getting all dressed. I only put on a light jacket over a t-shirt, and jeans without shoes. I sensed that otherwise I might be too warm. I was not looking forward to the summer months.

All I grabbed for breakfast was a granola bar before going out the door. Thankfully no one was in the kitchen. I was not interested in talking to my family right now.

My fur prickled slightly as I entered the cold. Snow was on the ground, but none had fallen for a week or so. Despite being dressed more thin than I normally would be for the weather, I felt fairly comfortable. Overall it just felt so good to be outside. Sounds and smells flooded my canine senses.

I just stood there a moment in front of my house, breathing slowly with my eyes closed. After so much stress recently, especially yesterday, I just needed a moment of calm. I didn't even pant - with my muzzle, it was feeling easier to control it.

I heard footsteps in front of me, and opened my eyes to see Jackie walking up. She was dressed in similarly light clothes. My mood fell a bit when I saw that she had a somber look in her eyes.

"I hate shoes," she said.

"You were trying to put shoes on?" I chuckled.

"Yes, and I tried for ages and it wouldn't work."

She wiggled her paw-like toes against the frozen snow, seemingly trying to decipher the new experience.

"So... uh, you wanna walk to the Junior HIgh?" I asked.


I considered trying to see if she wanted to hold hands, but she put her hands in her pockets before I could reach out.

We didn't talk much at first. It was just the crunching of the snow beneath our padded feet.

"How has it been since you got home?" I finally asked.

Jackie didn't answer immediately. "Awful."

I frowned, heaving a sigh. "I feel you."

"I'm never going to adjust to this," Jackie whispered as she stared at the ground ahead of her. "Right now... I'm certain people are staring out of their windows... they're silently judging us."

I saw her breath starting to grow rapid, and I placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Just... relax. We can't control what others do. We can only choose how we'll react to them."

Jackie squeezed her eyes tight. "I know... I know."

I took my hand off her shoulder. I could tell she had serious stuff going on in her head, but I had no idea what to say. I saw the glimmer of wetness in her eyes.

"Jackie... we've been through this together. You can talk to me about it."

She didn't answer. A brief gust of icy wind blew around us. She grimaced slightly, but didn't react much to it.

"I care about you Jackie," I said. "I don't know... well... I'm not sure where you want this to go... but I want to be there for you, if you want me to be."

She sniffled. "I don't know where I want anything to go Matt. Human Jackie's life is over. Something new has taken her place. Maybe Jackie was never very human to begin with, and she was always faking it."

"No," I said, leaning down to try to make eye contact with her, "you're not a something. You're Jackie, and that doesn't change if your outside does."

She was quiet. And then she let out a sob.

"I hate my inside. I hate myself. I'm a freak."

"Jackie," I said with sternness. I got in front of her, blocking her path. "You are not a freak. That is a terrible, terrible word, and I never, ever want to hear you use that word again."

She looked up at me, stunned.

"I know that you don't want to care about yourself right now," I went on, "but I care about you. I hate seeing people in pain, in such awful spiraling depression. You do not want to feel this way. I know you don't want to feel this way. You want to be happy."

She muttered something inaudibly, but it seemed she couldn't find the words.

"It's okay to be happy Jackie," I said, grasping her upper arms. "Sitting alone in our rooms, crying in the dark is not going to make our lives any better. It's not going to change anything. This is our life, and no amount of pining for a different reality will change that. So we have a choice. Stay still, and continue in awful depression, or stand up, and try to do something about it."

Jackie loosed more tears. "I can't - I can't do anything about it. I'm stuck."

"Talk to me," I said, pulling her forward into a walk again. "tell me what you're feeling."

She wheezed. "I... always... secretly wanted to be like this. I... I read a book about a girl who turned into a dog when I was little... and I began pretending to be a dog a lot. I sniffed at things a lot. I didn't realize that I smelled way better than was normal."

She trembled. "Gosh," she said... "I hate this. I hate talking about this."

"Just go on," I said, "it's okay."

"Even... even when I got older, I still found myself fantasizing about it. And I messed up my brain. I know it. I became a f-furry. My mom and dad found out about that. I felt worse. When... when my dad died... I felt like such a failure to him."

"I - "

She cut me off. "I know. I know that he didn't see it that way. But it felt like that. But now all this has happened. It's all become real. And... gosh. I just feel like the two sides of me are playing tug of war with my body. I feel horribly ashamed one minute, and the next I've... I've felt so incredibly happy. Ever since getting home... being able to be as weird as I want in the privacy of my room... I've had such awful mood swings. One moment I'm panting and wagging my tail like crazy, the next I've collapsed to the floor, pulling at my fur, wishing I could tear it all out."

I put my arm around her side, and she began crying harder as we walked. As she sobbed, she reached out to me, and on her own held my hand. I laced my fingers with hers, snugly pressing her paw pads against mine.

I waited, in case she spoke further. She did not.

"I have a confession to make Jackie."


She looked into my eyes, hers fully pooled with tears.

"I am not lying to you," I said, "I'm not just saying this to make you feel better - but I feel like since getting home, I've grown a lot more comfortable with my transformation."

She took in a pained breath.

"I look in the mirror," I said, "and I feel like I see myself staring back. I look a little big goofy with my big ears..."

I made a small chuckle. She did not react.

"... but," I said, "I feel like that kind of fits my personality. Before all this, I liked messing around. I didn't want to take myself too seriously. And I feel like... I honestly like how some of this feels. I feel like I can learn to make this who I am."

Jackie wiped her eyes with her free arm. "I'm not sure if you're lying Matt, but if you aren't, you shouldn't enjoy it. This... this isn't right."

"We don't have much choice," I said. "Hate it and be depressed, or accept it and move on."

"But I...," Jackie cried further, "I want to keep this. I always wanted this. Even if... even if a cure comes, I want to stay this way... because something is wrong with me."

I felt around her hand with my fingers. It was hard to get a sense of how the paw pads felt when my own fingertips were now pads.

We were getting close to the Junior High now. I thought back to what seemed like ages ago, but was really only a few weeks. The day that everything had begun to change.

"You remember several weeks ago," I asked, "when we were playing in the snow?"

She nodded slightly.

"I let my secret habit slip."

"You panted like a dog."

"Yes," I said, "and I downplayed it. I only realize now that my tongue felt too big for my mouth... and some amount of canine instinct was there. I did enjoy panting. And I liked pretending that I was a dog too when I was little. I've realized that perhaps this has always been who I am."

Jackie made several slow breaths before responding. "I started suspecting that day. I... I almost said something to you. I almost... almost spilled it all. Maybe if Douglas hadn't been there..."

She let out a long, groaning sigh. "I just... I felt so alone. The thought of someone... someone who knew what I was feeling... I should've said something."

I smiled and met her eyes. "You just did say something, even if it took time. It's okay. I understand. You can be as weird as you want with me. I'm weird too."

She looked away from me, back to the ground. She was silent as we came around the back of the junior high, near where we'd had our game of capture the flag weeks back. I patiently walked with her, and we sat down on one of the outdoor cafeteria tables. We carefully positioned our tails as we sat. Thankfully, the uncomfortable bumpy texture of the benches was cushioned a bit by my fur.

"I like this," Jackie whispered. "Like... I really like this. I've never felt more... more like me."

"That's awesome Jackie."

She squeezed my hand.

"Do you actually like me?"

"Of course."

"No," she said. "Like... like me, like me."

I searched my thoughts. It didn't take long to find my response.

"Yes," I smiled, leaning in close to meet her eyes. "I... I'd had a crush on you for a long time. And now... I think being a golden retriever fits you."

Finally, after so many tears, I saw the hint of a quivering smile come to her face.

"I think you look cute this way," I said.

Jackie trembled, but she held her gaze into my eyes. "I.. I didn't really think much about you until the day out in the snow. But when you were panting... I felt awful. I kept... I kept imagining you as an anthro dog. And... now it's real."

She was silent. Once again, she had to force it out with a whisper. "I... I think you... you look really cute. Especially your big floppy ears."

I laughed, and shook my head a bit, flopping them around. "I think I wear them pretty good."

Her smile was growing, even though I could tell she felt embarrassed to be smiling. I hugged her. We sat there in that embrace for a while. She rubbed my back, feeling as my fur shifted position. It felt nice.

"Your fur looks... really clean and shiny," she said.

"Thanks. Showers aren't very fun but it feels good to be all fluffy after."

She smiled a bit more firmly. "Yeah. It smells good too."

I wagged my tail gently, and turned my head, and pressed my wet snout against hers. It was an odd sensation, and she giggled. Gosh... she looked so cute when she was happy.

I kissed her. She leaned into it. Gradually as we kissed, I saw her relax. She began wagging her tail. We scratched each other behind the ears. And then she licked my face. I licked her back. We were both very weird. I was okay with that.

It ended too soon. I didn't want to push her though. After pulling out of the kiss, she rested her head against me. Other than her twitching ears, she barely moved.

"Are you cold?" I asked.

"No," she said, "I have my blanket on."

She nuzzled my chest as I scratched one of her ears.

"How do you feel?" I whispered to her.

"Better. I feel... much better."

"I know it will take time to adjust," I said, "but at least with me, I want you to be yourself."


I leaned down and gave her a quick kiss.

"Thank you," she said.

"And thank you too. Yesterday... yesterday was... was a hard day."

Jackie sat up, but remained close. "What... happened?"

I sighed. "I was stupid. My sister was stupid. Long story short, Ashley has a good chance of contracting canis."


"My parents are both mad at me. Ashley... I'm not sure if she's going to talk to me in the next thousand years... I just feel sick."

"I'm sorry Matt."

"It's okay," I said. "What's done is done."

Jackie sighed. "Do you want to hang out at my house the rest of the day while it blows over?"

"Yes," I said. "I'm not sure how much it'll blow over in a day... or if it ever will, but I just don't want to be around any of them for now."

"I hope you all figure it out."

"I don't know what there is to figure out," I said. "it's happened. I'm sure that they already know by now if she's going to change."

"Well whatever happens," Jackie said... "I'll try to be there for you."

I smiled. "And same for you."

Jackie stood up, and offered her hand to me. I accepted the gesture gladly We walked around a bit more, examining our old snow forts. They were misshapen, covered in new layers of snow. Throughout the snow I saw vague depressions, remains of our footprints.

I found myself looking between them and the tracks that I was now leaving in the snow. These tracks had the shape of a human foot, but my longer canine nails now pressed into the snow, as well as my paw-pads. It was obvious even just from my footprints the strange nature of who I now was.

So much had changed in the time since that Friday afternoon weeks ago. I could only imagine what my life would look like six months from now, let alone years in the future.

But today, I wanted to focus on the now. I wanted to focus on Jackie. My girlfriend.



About the author


Bio: A golden retriever that knows how to use a computer

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