Pam Houston included the short story "Like Goodness Under Your Feet" in her collection Waltzing the Cat, which was published in 1998. This tale is one of many in which Houston recounts pets she has loved. In this particular composition, Houston writes about a dog she rescues from a pound. The mix-breed animal is undernourished and sick. The vet concludes that the dog has distemper, a virus common among uncared-for canines. If the rescued pet is going to die, the vet tells the narrator, it will happen within the first couple of weeks.
The narrator has named her new dog Ellie after a female friend who has recently died. Lucy has brought the woman's ashes to her ranch in Hope, Colorado. Throughout the story, Lucy reminisces about her friend, Ellie, who represented the closest the narrator had ever come to feeling love. In many ways, Lucy believed that Ellie was a kindred spirit: both women were wild, creative, and daring.
Ellie, the dog, is somewhat wild too. The narrator believes that her newly adopted pet is half dog and half coyote. At first, the animal will not come inside the narrator's home, and when it is not feeling well, it hides under the house, refusing to eat or drink.
The narrator often sits out on the porch, plays her guitar, and sings to the dog. One night, the dog sings along with her. But the animal appears to be very sick over the next few days, and the narrator is afraid it is dying.
When her friend, Ellie, was dying, she left her family and went to a hospital in Oklahoma. Ellie did not tell the narrator where she was, because she wanted to die alone. Ellie did, however, write the narrator several letters, letters that the narrator has kept and has re-read several times. One night, after her new pet seems somewhat recovered, the narrator takes her friend Ellie's ashes, which she has stored in an old coffee can, out to the edges of her property. She sits down with her dog and surveys the landscape. The ranch is situated in a boxed-in canyon, surrounded by mountains that mark the Continental Divide. She surmises that her friend Ellie would have approved of the ranch. With this conclusion fresh in her mind, the narrator throws her friend's ashes to the wind.
Waltzing the Cat was well received by critics, many of whom complimented Houston for her clear writing and understated comprehension of the human psyche. Carrie Seldman, writing for the Albuquerque Journal found Houston's stories, though they cover difficult topics, to be "completely devoid of sentimentality or self-pity."