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Photographs by Darrow Montgomery

Linda Hodges and her poodle/terrier mix, Tuxedo, were always together. They would spend their time playing tug of war or goofing with the stuffed panda head with the missing eye or sacking out in front of the TV to watch One Life to Live. They hugged a lot. And when Hodges tired of her Fairfax condo, she would take Tuxedo to Ocean City or Fredericksburg or the hairdresser’s. But mainly Tuxedo loved the shortest trip—the walk to the fridge for a slice of American cheese. And when they were exhausted from all their happy adventures, they would lie down, say their goodnights, and spoon. Hodges liked that the best.

It’s only natural that Hodges, 46, would want Tuxedo’s ashes buried with her. She made this decision a little more than a year ago, on the afternoon Tuxedo came home in a wooden box smaller than the size of a six-pack. “I knew I wanted her with me,” she says. “I just knew that.”

Hodges envisions her funeral with Tuxedo as plain and sad and filled with testimonials from the dog’s best walkers and best treat-givers. She thinks about the ceremony all the time and wonders not only who will show up, but who will take her intentions seriously. She figures that in attendance will be both the natural dog lovers and those who fell only for Tuxedo—the neighbor who composed watercolor and pencil portraits of Tuxedo sitting, eyes fixed straight ahead, next to a full bowl of kibble; the grandmother who trained Tuxedo to nibble cheese from her mouth; the chain-smoking pit-bull owner who hates small dogs but had to respect Tuxedo; the cat lover who remembers Tuxedo as a real momma’s girl; and the lifeguards at her Foxcroft Colony condo complex’s pool, who let Hodges swim with Tuxedo each year on the last day of summer.

After friends and family offer their prayers and respects to Hodges and Tuxedo, they will take seats among the church pews. Then two old neighbors will stand up and eulogize Tuxedo.

Emma Stotts will speak first. She will gush that when asked to sit, Tuxedo would sit. Sometimes, if a Snausage or a bit of cold hamburger was offered, Tuxedo would get up on her hind legs and swivel her hips, Stotts will say. She will smile, maybe let out a soft giggle, and tell everyone she called the dance “the James Brown.”

And when Stotts finishes, Alberta Fitzgerald will recall Tuxedo as a sweet dog who came to her Maltese Twinkles’ funeral at Noah’s Ark Pet Cemetery in Falls Church. She will remember the inscription on Twinkles’ tombstone and read it aloud: “Little star, I know where you are…forever in my heart.” She will say that Tuxedo is in her heart, too.

With the funeral complete, the procession will head out to the Hodges family plot at the National Memorial Park cemetery. She and Tuxedo will be buried next to her father, Claude Hodges, along the graveyard’s tree line, just beyond the shadow of three great big pines. They will settle in among the Pumphreys and the Burroughses and the McConnells resting nearby.

Hodges says that her and Tuxedo’s friends should place roses on their casket. She thinks she and Tuxedo will like purple pansies planted at their grave.

When it is finally cemented to the ground, her tombstone, Hodges figures, will be a simple monument, a declaration of her deepest love: “Here lies Linda and her daughter, Tuxedo.” The dog’s ash box will be tucked between Hodges’ hands and her chest.

It sounds to Hodges like the happiest ending. She has spent the past year and a half grieving over Tuxedo and feels alone. She feels as if she’s lost a daughter. “It’s like cutting off my right hand. And I’m right-handed,” she says. “I wanted her cremated so I would have her still.”

For now, Tuxedo’s ashes rest on a cabinet next to Hodges’ TV in her living room.

Long before there was Tuxedo, there was Bonnie, a black cocker spaniel who grew up in the Hodges family’s Arlington household. Bonnie loved all people except boys, especially little boys who liked to rattle the backyard fence with sticks. Second to those little boys, she hated the man who checked the gas meter. “She was protective of us,” Hodges explains. Bonnie was her first dog.

After Bonnie died, the Hodges picked up Mitzi, a little terrier, from the Alexandria pound. She was black and white and struck by bad luck. Soon after Mitzi arrived, she got distemper, a usually fatal viral disorder. Mitzi’s nose turned cherry-red and her appetite disappeared. But she was a fighter, and the family nursed her back to health with a diet of oatmeal coated in honey and cream. The distemper left Mitzi with only a nervous twitch. Her luck ran out when she contracted a sudden unknown illness and died. She was only 8 years old.

Of all the family dogs, Hodges thinks Mitzi came the closest to matching Tuxedo. “We bonded as a friend,” she explains. “I say we hit the level of Tuxedo, and Tuxedo went beyond.”

Hodges’ least favorite dog was Dingo, who was nothing like Mitzi or Bonnie. Part German shepherd, part pound, Dingo had the most pointed ears and most intense gaze of any of the Hodges family dogs. She could really stare you down.

When asked about Bonnie, Mitzi, and Dingo, Hodges offers up only sketchy memories. She recalls their colors, a dominant trait or two, and not much else. Most of the dogs’ history I get from Geraldine Hodges, Linda’s mother. These dogs barked in the yard a lot and otherwise stayed on the periphery of things. For Linda Hodges, life got in the way of true dog devotion. Summer camp, a love affair with horses, high school, college, and jobs all took her away from her family’s home.

For many years before Tux, Hodges never really thought about owning a dog herself. She had other ambitions, like finding a decent job, getting married, and settling down with kids. But somehow the husband and family part never materialized. Available men were especially hard to come by where she worked—as an officer at a Jessup, Md., correctional institute. After four-years-plus working the graveyard shift, she walked away having learned how to shoot a .38 and a 12-gauge shotgun.

After Jessup, Hodges moved back to her parents’ house and shuffled through a series of office and security jobs, at the post office, at General Electric, at the National Automobile Dealers Association. She stuck at no job too long. In the late ’80s, she ended up driving a bus shuttling the elderly and handicapped. That position led to her current job: driving a school bus for Fairfax County.

With no prospects of family, Hodges began seeking other companions. One day, a colleague brought in a brown mutt to give to a supervisor. “When I saw it, I had to have it, and I said so,” Hodges remembers. The woman told Hodges that this mutt was already taken but that she would ask around for another just like it.

On the day Dingo died—Dec. 5, 1989—Hodges got Tuxedo, who was 8 weeks old and an Army brat, born in the Fort Belvoir area. About 2 feet long, she was quite the dapper hot dog, black with white patches on her cheeks and a white tuft running down her chest. She looked nothing like the first dog Hodges had seen at the office.

“It was love at first sight,” Hodges recalls. “It kicked me in the head. When she became my daughter I don’t remember exactly….It was just the right time.”

When she’s not grieving over Tuxedo, dreaming about Tuxedo, or staring at her approximately 100 pictures of Tuxedo, Hodges attends pet-loss group-therapy sessions, where she talks about Tuxedo. She started out going to one session per month, but since last November she’s doubled up, attending group therapy in both Alexandria and Fairfax. The next best thing to having Tuxedo is having an hour to mourn her without interruption.

Pet-loss therapy has existed for about 20 years. However, the sessions didn’t really take off locally until about three years ago, when area therapists started noticing that a lot of their clients had dead pets on their minds. If people are willing to send their dogs to therapy, to feed them doggie Prozac and doggie cupcakes from doggie bakeries, it’s not particularly surprising that when their pooches finally take that trip to the celestial pound, they’ll make the trip to group therapy.

The explosion of pet-loss therapy parallels the boom in all other things animal-related. Aside from the obvious mega pet stores such as Petco and PetSmart, the services available to dog owners are out of control. You can now take Fido to visit Santa Claus, buy him a couple of baby T’s, and get his nails frosted. At night, you can click on programs such as Animal Planet’s reality program Emergency Vets, a show that focuses on life-and-death scenes at the Alameda East vet hospital. It dispenses more teary drama than ER.

And more and more people are owning companion animals. According to a Pet Food Institute study completed last year, there are more than 75 million pet cats and more than 60 million pet dogs in the United States, up from 44 million and 54 million, respectively, in 1981.

Eventually, they all die—which explains the scene at the February meeting in the second-floor office of the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Hodges hustles through the door pink-faced, her blond hair sticking up straight as straw. Tonight marks her one-year anniversary attending pet-loss therapy. She is clutching Tuxedo’s replacement, a blond Pomeranian/ Chihuahua combo named T’s Shadow, close to her side.

But then: “Shadow, come back here!” Hodges bellows. “Shadow?”

Shadow has escaped and is off sniffing trash cans and the bathroom. Hodges finally gets up and fetches the fur ball and sits back down. Shadow growls at each of us from under the conference table, making it clear he doesn’t need or want our cooing advances.

Hodges seems in her element. She’s surrounded at the therapy table by other mourners: Carol, who lost her one-eyed cat, Amber; Shirley, who lost her Sheltie, Lady; LaTanya, who lost her cocker spaniel, Lexus; and I, who lost family mutt Maggie.

Therapist Katharine Reiter kicks off the meeting with a pep talk. We are here, she says, because we are fighting against anyone who’s not an animal person, who doesn’t understand what Maggie or Tuxedo or Lexus meant to us. We are fighting anyone who thinks we should get over it. An attractive, tanned woman, Reiter offers a little preamble about herself, her own credentials as a pet lover and griever, and then motherly instructions:

“You want to walk into the pain,” Reiter explains. “You want to embrace it.”

Walking into the room is painful enough. The place reeks of old dog smells—food, slobber, Beggin’ Strips, whatever—and new dog noises rise from below, where the shelter’s potential adoptees are housed. Its walls are covered in dogginalia, including a collage of pooches, and on the conference table there’s a metal sculpture of a pouty beagle craving our attention.

Reiter asks us to tell our stories and introduces Hodges as an old pro. She goes first.

This being its umpteenth telling, Hodges’ story is the longest, most detailed, and most agonizing of all the griever stories. It is not messy and unsure and filled with tangents. It is chronological, starting with Tuxedo’s first days, proceeding through the spooning rituals, and ending with, well, the end. When she finishes, she punctuates the presentation with her favorite flourish—the declaration: “When I lost Tuxedo, I lost everything,” she says, welling up. “Tuxedo was my baby girl, my daughter.”

Now the other women in the room are crying just a bit harder.

Reiter tells us that Hodges has made great strides. “When she first started coming to the meetings,” she explains, “she was a basket case.”

The other stories are just as sad and complicated as Hodges’. So we move on to LaTanya, who lost Lexus.

LaTanya passes around a scrapbook she made for Lexus after he died. Inside there are pictures of Lexus when he was first born, when she first picked him up. There are pictures under the heading “Favorite Toys to Play With”: a stuffed Ernie doll from a McDonald’s Happy Meal, a tennis ball, a little rope, and a stuffed elephant. There are pictures of Lexus taking a bath, lounging on the sofa, sitting in his first cage, cooling at her parents’ house.

There is a picture at Christmas with Lexus perched on Santa Claus’ lap. The caption reads: “We just made it back from out of town and we ran to see Santa Claus at Tysons Corner. On the way to the mall, I asked him to please behave and not embarrass mommy at the mall.”

In the back of the scrapbook, LaTanya has written out a eulogy to Lexus on resume-gray paper. Along with the eulogy, she has pasted her sympathy cards and sympathy e-mails, Lexus’ certificate of cremation, and doctor’s receipts. Lexus was 7-and-a-half years old when he died from cancer.

Hodges loves the scrapbook. “This is a good idea,” she says, eyes wide. She already wants to do one for Tuxedo.

At first, LaTanya is pumped to tell her story. She giggles and raps the table as she talks about how she would “share love” with Lexus, rub his belly in the morning; how he’d follow her everywhere, even to the bathroom. But LaTanya quickly tears up. It’s one of the few times she’s been able to really talk about Lexus and what he meant to her—everything.

Reiter encourages her to let it go. She can be a great sponge that way. You want to let it go. Soon, LaTanya dries up and we shift to my story, about Maggie, then to Shirley’s about Lady, then Carol’s about Amber.

Whenever we hit those misty moments, we end up looking to Hodges as much as Reiter for support. She has mastered all those sympathetic touches, little head nods, amens, and “I know”s.

After the session ends, more than an hour later, Hodges keeps to Reiter’s side all the way out to Reiter’s car. She then walks with Shadow over to me and starts up again about Tuxedo. The session was just a warm-up.

It is dark and cold, and I want to go home. But Hodges continues on about Tuxedo. I ask her whether Shadow will be buried with her, too. Shadow growls, tugs at his leash, and pisses on a tree. Hodges says she’s just not sure.

“I loved Tuxedo,” Hodges says. “I can’t say I love Shadow.”

To Hodges, Tuxedo made the perfect daughter. Tuxedo always listened and never held a grudge when she didn’t get her way. She answered to all sorts of funny nicknames: Girlfriend, Tux Bux, Jet. She couldn’t object to Hodges’ buying her outfits—bright cheery red wool sweaters and wire-rim granny glasses. When Hodges insisted she sit for family photos, she usually managed a smile. And she never said anything when her mother would plop her on Santa’s lap, even when she was way too old for that stuff.

Tuxedo loved Hodges completely and made sure to tell her so every afternoon when she walked through the door. She was no slouch when it came to hugs and wet kisses on the cheeks. She could be such a showboat. But she wasn’t too spoiled; she’d be happy with just a slice of cheese.

Tuxedo was very protective of Hodges, especially around strange men. She didn’t like nosy boys too much, either. If something fishy was going on in the apartment-complex hallway, she’d have to sniff it out and report back any problems. Hodges loves to tell the story of when she fell in front of a Dart Drug and hurt her ankle. Tuxedo stood by her side until she was ready to get up from the pavement and hobble home.

Tuxedo was scared of only three things: lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, and thunderstorms. Even though Hodges bought her anxiety medication for the thunderstorms, it never seemed to make a difference. She could sense them from miles away, and it would always be too late to take any pills. That’s when she’d start to shake and want to snuggle real bad. “She would put her head on my shoulder, and her chest would be on my chest,” Hodges says. “We just held each other, and I would talk to her calmly. That child of mine would know every word I said. She would understand.”

“I’d tell her I loved her, that she was my baby girl,” Hodges adds. “‘I’m here, and everything will be better.’”

Despite being a puny poodle terrier, Tuxedo held her own at the nearby park. At their Fairfax condo complex, she grew up among a generation of huge dogs: There was Latische the pit bull; the Scotties Conor, Allister, King, and Muffin; Cooper the black Lab; Twinkles the Maltese; Sasha the Shih-Tzu; the schnauzers Rusty and Zachary; Katie the German shepherd; and Bi Bi the pug.

Tuxedo made a lot of friends in the park, at the pool, and on her walks. Her best friend was Jamie, a Shih-Tzu/Lhasa cross. Jamie’s owner, Marilyn, who baby-sat for Tuxedo, says they had a way of communicating that went beyond normal friendship. If Tuxedo needed to go to the bathroom, she would tell Jamie and Jamie would ring the sleigh bells hanging from Marilyn’s front door.

But Tuxedo had a lot of best friends. For a good stretch during the ’90s, Tux Bux was the center of Foxcroft Colony. You couldn’t go a day without seeing Hodges walking the dog, paying visits to neighbors like Stotts or “Grandma Kitty” or David Bailey. It got to the point where her friends joked that Tuxedo could find her way to their apartments on her own.

And Hodges is eager to have me meet these people. Her mental Rolodex is filled with Tuxedo’s friends. Each time I visit her, she has a new set of former buddies we must visit.

I stand in the hallway to watch longtime friend Bailey talk of Tuxedo as an “easygoing little dog,” and break down and bawl over his dearly departed Latische. “They’re family. They’re like our children.”

We barge into Frances Foxwell’s apartment to catch her in bed. “When Tuxedo walked around, she was like a queen,” Foxwell attests. “Everybody knew Tuxedo. It was fun to see Linda walking around with her Tuxedo.” Her mother, Stotts, now in an Annandale nursing home, admits that although she wasn’t a dog person, Tuxedo was a “good puppy” who really could sniff her way to Stotts’ old apartment on her own.

I met still other old condo heads, such as Barbara Shoop and Barbara Brown and Barbara Norman. Tuxedo was just as cool and cute and kooky with them. They all miss the pooch.

Mary Irick, owner of the nearby Poodle Palace, confirms that Tuxedo was not the average client. “She was different,” Irick remembers, adding that Hodges babied her quite a bit. “Her personality—she was kind of on the shy side. Tux let you know what she liked and what she didn’t like about being groomed. She didn’t like her nails done. She liked mainly being massaged. She liked her bath.”

“People are still asking me, ‘Where’s Tuxedo?’” Hodges says. This bothers her a lot.

As the years went by, the neighborhood’s dogs started moving on to places like Chantilly, Myrtle Beach, Centreville, and doggie heaven. Tuxedo started to slow down. She developed allergies and skin diseases and, worst of all, ear-wax buildup. Her ears bothered her so much that Hodges would have to make special trips to the vet to get them cleaned. And when she wasn’t with the vet, Hodges was giving her doggie Benadryl. But Tux was worth it.

One summer day in 1999, Shadow chased Tuxedo through Geraldine Hodges’ yard. They went round and round, faster and faster, until Tuxedo blew out a knee. Hodges spent $2,000 for Tuxedo’s knee surgery. Tuxedo spent several weeks in a cast, but the knee never healed completely. Hodges says she’s still mad at Shadow for that.

On Oct. 5, 2000, Hodges noticed a change in Tuxedo. She thought the dog just wasn’t as active as she used to be. Her breathing also seemed heavy. By Oct. 24, Hodges had noticed a marked increase in the dog’s weight. Hodges rushed Tuxedo over to the Dunn Loring Animal Hospital. A vet flushed her ears and then took an X-ray of her stomach. The vet found a tumor and wanted to put her down that day.

Hodges couldn’t let Tuxedo die without a fight. She got a second opinion, then a third. She got expensive prescriptions for experimental medicines. She fed Tuxedo Iams and Eukanuba nutritional dog foods.

“If there was such a way of operating, I would have gone that way,” Hodges says. “I would have spent any amount of money. I would have mortgaged my condo if I had to.”

Hodges got desperate. She went so far as to ask one vet if giving Tuxedo some of Shadow’s organs would help. “I would do anything I could for Tuxedo to have her longer,” Hodges explains. “Even if I had to take [Shadow’s] life, I would do that. But the vet said it wouldn’t work. That’s the only reason.”

By November, Tuxedo would hardly eat. Hodges had to carry her up and down the steps and hold her in place when she went to the bathroom. She finally made an appointment to put Tuxedo down on Nov. 4. Hodges remembers lying in bed the night before and thinking maybe she wouldn’t go through with it, maybe she’d wait at least another day, a week. But that night, in the dark and quiet at about 4:30 a.m., Tuxedo let out a single yelp. And Hodges knew what she had to do.

The next day—on the Saturday morning of Nov. 4— Hodges carried Tuxedo into McLean Animal Hospital and had her put down. She was 12 years old.

“I told her I loved her, that she was my baby girl,” Hodges remembers. “Then it was time, you know? They let me have her and hold her, and I wanted to hold her a long time. But it was like they were getting ready to close, and [my friend] said, ‘Come on, let’s go.’ That’s the worst day of my life.”

When Tuxedo left, I found I had no willpower left…Tux was my life no reason to carry on.—Hodges, writing in her journal. No date is listed.

After she lost Tuxedo, Hodges cried and cried. She cried on the Beltway going home from work. She cried so hard she’d miss her exit. She cried when she was home, and she cried through each group-therapy session. She stopped eating. And then she started eating way too much.

The fourth of every month dropped Hodges into an emotional hole. The holidays were depressing, too. She had nobody to confide in, nobody to share her secret talks with, nobody to greet her at the door, nobody to watch TV with, nobody to say goodnight to. When she finally went to sleep, she dreamed that Tuxedo, her Tux Bux, was being chased by a bigger animal.

Hodges says she would have loved to be a guest on the Christian-themed show It’s a Miracle, where ordinary people stand up and tell the story of their miracles. But she didn’t have anything divine to recount.

“I have a problem dealing with God right now,” Hodges says. “I’m mad. Madder than a hornet right now for taking my baby girl, for giving her cancer and taking her and not letting me say, ‘It’s a miracle.’ I’d finally have a miracle in my life.”

But instead of relying on divine intervention, Hodges did what most folks do after losing a pet. First, she tried to replace Tuxedo. She called up the former colleague who had found Tux and asked if she could find another. The colleague told Hodges that she’d lost track of the breeders.

Then, a month after Tuxedo died, Hodges got a blond cocker spaniel she named T’s Blondie. But Blondie was not Tuxedo in the obedience department. There were times when Blondie just wouldn’t move. Blondie lasted three weeks.

Hodges gave Blondie to her mother. A month later, Hodges started attending the group therapy sessions. After a teary, pleading telephone call, her mom agreed to give back Shadow, who had shuttled between mother and daughter since November 1996. Shadow takes up as much space in Hodges’ heart as her name would imply.

This past Thanksgiving, Hodges hung Tux’s collar from her rearview mirror. She also started attending a second therapy session each month and collecting cans for cash donations to a Fredericksburg animal shelter in Tuxedo’s name.

Hodges says she still cries herself to sleep several nights a week and often can’t sleep much at all. “I get up,” she says. “I go into the living room, and Shadow will give me less than five minutes and then he’s done with me.”

Geraldine Hodges wishes her daughter could just move on. “Linda just made up her mind that when Tuxedo died, nothing would ever replace her,” she says. “She’d probably have her cloned if she could. I think this has become a hobby of hers now. Nothing in the world that we can do seems to change anything. It’s almost an obsession. I think this [support group] has become a security blanket for her. She can go in there and talk about Tuxedo and they can go, ‘Oh you poor thing, you poor thing.’ I think it’s become a crutch for her.”

Besides, Geraldine Hodges thinks Shadow is really the better dog. “Shadow’s much smarter,” she explains. “He was just about the best-trained thing you’ve ever seen….I always said Shadow had much more personality and was smarter than Tuxedo.”

“Shadow! Chill out!” Hodges screams from behind her apartment door. On a recent Saturday afternoon, I have knocked and Shadow has answered with an angry growl.

“Stop! Stop! Battle Boy!” Hodges continues. Battle Boy is one of Shadow’s all-too-appropriate nicknames. He finally quiets down for all of a second before his owner opens her door.

Shadow half-circles me, stops, stares up my way from a set of dark button eyes, and barks. He barks in my direction for a good 20 minutes. After he’s done barking, he takes a seat next to Hodges and growls some more. Despite his pint size, thick neck, and gremlin ears, I’m a bit frightened by Shadow. He won’t stop protesting my presence. I feed Shadow four Snausages by hand. Hodges holds down Shadow so I can pet him gingerly behind the ears. But he won’t stop barking. He is a marathon barker.

But even all his noise can’t compete with Tuxedo’s ghost.

Or Tuxedo’s pictures, which lie all over Hodges’ condo. She has Tux’s likeness printed on five T-shirts, and one T-shirt shows her holding up a picture of her beloved companion. There is one 15-year-old family photo where Hodges is seated with her mother, father, sister, niece, and nephew. With help from a Staples color copier, Hodges has superimposed over her body a picture of herself clutching Tuxedo and Shadow.

Tuxedo’s pictures are a constant concern. Hodges isn’t sure whether they should simply surround the TV, be put in frames and hung in her bedroom for a more personal memorial, or be put in a scrapbook. Right now, she figures all the 8-by-10s are going to be hung around the TV like garland.

Next to the TV, Tuxedo’s urn is on a cabinet containing videotapes. On top of the urn there is a stuffed dog that half-resembles Tuxedo.

Hodges sits on a wicker chaise longue, her current bed, with a faded Sesame Street blanket. At her side is a cardboard box filled with Tuxedo’s old toys—the panda head with the missing eye, a faceless, genderless stuffed doll. Soda cans—Diet Pepsi, Diet Swiss Creme, caffeine-free Diet Mountain Dew—clutter the coffee table. These are cans that will someday be recycled in tribute to Tuxedo.

Nestling beside Hodges, Shadow finally grows quiet as she talks at length about Tuxedo and all the ways her current dog hasn’t measured up—he broke Tux’s kneecap, he ripped open an Easter egg filled with Snausages, he doesn’t like to cuddle as much. He needs her only to clean up his messes, feed him, walk him, and shush his barking. His needs are too ordinary, too doglike.

“He’s not that lovable,” Hodges explains. “He doesn’t want to be held.”

And then the inevitable: “I can’t say that I love him, but it’s a strong like. Because Tuxedo was my daughter, my first.”

What Hodges wants is for Shadow to hit her sweet spot, the moment when she can know that he really depends on her. There’s a reason why her favorite moments with Tuxedo were when she climbed into her arms during thunderstorms.

A few days later, that moment comes for the first time. Hodges and Shadow have gone to visit Bailey and his new white pit bull, Sparkle. Within a few seconds, Sparkle starts attacking Shadow.

Without thinking, Hodges jumps in and pushes Sparkle away with her knee. She picks up Shadow. He’s shaking real bad.

Hodges tells this story at the March group-therapy session in Alexandria. It is the climax to a 25-minute-long salute to Tuxedo. Outside after the session, she has to tell the story again: She was mad as hell at Sparkle and really sorry for Shadow.

“He really needed me,” Hodges says. “And I wondered who would take care of Shadow if I wasn’t around.” CP

Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photographs by Darrow Montgomery.