It was one of those nights. The brown dog had spent the afternoon chasing me on the tractor, mowing the front pasture. It was one of those best day ever type deals. Every time he hears the tractor start up, he puts his inner coyote in charge and runs around, following me, lap after lap, until he drops in a shady spot, his mile long tongue flapping in the breeze. I make another round and he picks up where we left off, same verse, just like the first, screw the harmony. I figure all that running around keeps him out of trouble. This is where human logic and canine reckoning come to a parting of the ways. Man’s best friend will always avail themselves of the opportunistic over-ripe bunny carcass or what have you. If it smells like you want to roll in it, get a good taste first and roll on.
And so he did. These little treats tend to sit and fester in a dog’s innards, like little time release biological grenades. Depending on the potency, it can take anywhere from 2 hours up to 8 hours before what’s inside needs to come out, fast. Whatever he ate must have been pretty fresh, because a full 7 to 8 hours had elapsed. While I was in a particularly deep sleep, brown dog took to scratching the wall, near the door and almost directly under our room. I don’t know if he thinks he is going to dig his way out or if he is even thinking at that point, or just acting on instinct. It’s a noise that I have programmed myself to respond to, no matter what else is happening.
So, one moment drifting in the land of nod, the next jumping out of bed and running down the stairs, before my cognitive processes have caught up with where’s the fire. I tried to turn the dining room light on, stupidly flipping the switch many times, until I woke up enough to remember the power was cut to that feature, pending a change to its wiring up in the attic. I grabbed him in the dark, while he was dancing the I gotta puke dance, by the scruff of the neck, opened the door and located the lead line we have just for this kind of moment.
I have learned through trial and tears, when a dog needs to go out, if let out in the dark, without rules or restraints, well, after the eating of grass and barfing is done, back to best day ever and where the heck did I leave that rotten bunny? He will come back in the house, stinky and you’ll have to repeat the whole deal in a couple of hours. Kinda like a bizzaro square dance, where all your partners are fat and homely, and don’t take HELL NO, for an answer. Nope, when Sweet Pea goes out at night, he gets put on the chain.
Since I was tired, and the night was still young, I figured that I’d leave him outdoors, to atone for his sins, while I tried to reenter the land of sweet dreams. About 30 minutes after the sand man making a timely visit, the dog expresses his indignation about being left outdoors by barking at some shadow or firefly or barking because, hey stupid, you left me outside.
I remember yelling something at him and it seemed to work for the moment, but I knew the reset button had been pushed and it was just a matter of time when, yup, time to howl at the moon.
ARRRRHHHHH! I stomp down the stairs, open the door, grab him sternly by the scruff of the neck, look him in the eye and growl something that conveys to him that the alpa dog is not pleased. He looked quite contrite, as he slunk to his couch. I cautioned him to not test my patience and went back up stairs, to await the next arrival of whoever was in charge of putting a pissed alpha dog to sleep. It was a long wait.
Finally got to sleep and next thing you know, some stupid bird and 5 of his best friends were merrily chirping and whatever else they do to make noise before the sun gets up. My morning coffee was a bit bitter, you might say. But hey the day is started and now I get to spend some quality time in the attic, trying to figure out how some electrician, 70 years ago, fished wire into places I can’t get to. They say any day you wake up above ground, is a good one. I wonder if “they” really meant that, when we’re having oatmeal for breakfast. Some how, I don’t think so.