Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Beasts of the Backyard

MH900446578It’s why we live on the Texas Gulf Coast, those rare perfect weather days.  The temperature is 75, the fields have been mowed and I smell fresh cut grass and  hear flocks of geese as they fly in formation from the inland lakes back to the reedy marshes of the Gulf.  Of course tomorrow the temperature could be 80 or 40 with rain and 50 mph winds, but today is beautiful and my dogs are making me laugh.

My dogs love it as well and spend a good bit of their day lying out in the sun in the cool temperatures – as long as I leave the back door open. For some reason, however, if I close the back door, they rush the door and start banging on it to be let in. Once inside, they fight over who gets to lie in the slim beam of sunlight on the floor. I have two theories about their reasoning in this matter. Either they think that if the door is closed they will miss out on a possible snack because they can’t hear us opening the pantry door (because the last bite of any snack is always shared 7 ways) or they think if the door closes, then they will be abandoned to the outside forever. The first theory has some validity, but the second is just absurd, which guarantees it’s the right one. Now, these are dogs that have lived inside our house since the day they came to our home, they each have their own bed, they lay on our couches and watch TV and there is abundant food available to them at any time. However, let that door close and suddenly they act like orphans from Oliver Twist. “Please please don’t abandon us to the wilds of the backyard, cruel mistress. Our soft padded feet are meant for better things and we are without our sweaters. We are delicate flowers at your mercy and have no snacks.”

It’s just not nice weather days when they act ridiculous about the backyard. Let there be someone working out back which means I have to keep them in the house (in order not to annoy the workers with the substantial amount of canine digging assistance that will be offered) and you will see 7 noses of varying sizes pressed against the glass like they’ve never been allowed outside a day in their life. This, of course, is after they’ve acted like blood thirsty devil dogs snarling and barking when they first see the workers. This is for my benefit for truly their only concern is if the workers brought lunch and know the last bite rule.

The cat doesn’t help the situation. He will parade up and down the porch, preening where they can see him through the glass, like he’s saying, “Look at me, free to be outside, trusted by our dear mistress. Oh, you poor poor pups, I am so very sorry you can’t enjoy being out here for it is indeed lovely to be free.”  This is the same cat that we rarely see from sun up to sun down now in full glorious display on the porch just to torment the dogs.  Thank you Mow-Mow.

Before the dogs go to bed they go out one last time and with the opening of the back door, turn into nocturnal feral hunters of the vile night creatures hiding in the backyard.  I am fairly certain, however, that neither the slugs nor orb spiders are planning a take-down of man or dog-kind anytime soon, but that is a moot point so we move on.   They run through the flower bed,  around the pool, they stand at the far fence corner and bark and snarl threats at the darkness and then run to the other corner and do the same thing and then it’s back to the flower bed to begin again.

At this point it is obvious they have no intention of coming in even though I am standing barefoot in my pajamas waiting.  As usual, the tattletale of the bunch, Peaches, comes back to let me know the others are savages and we should just go in and let the night have them.   I sigh and get out the flashlight and take a step out into the dark, trying not to step on the slugs, and start threatening bodily harm to 6 dogs.  Hopefully no one hears me and takes it serious and calls the SPCA.  I only threaten 6 because Peaches is right beside me making sure I know, yet again, she is a good and obedient dog. Finally, I hear bushes and palms rustling and the padding of paws in the grass – success.  I head back inside and  one by one the beasts slink back inside.  They know I’ve had enough and a bedtime treat is  unlikely, but as they go by with their heads down, their tails are in the air and there are secret smiles on their faces as if to say “It was worth it.”

Goodnight to all.  I wish you grace, contentment, a sharing heart, and compassion for all living things in 2012.

©2011-2012 itsa5doglife  All Rights Reserved

Another Night Safe

moon2It’s late Thursday night, my husband and son are stranded in central Louisiana in the dark with a flat tire on their plane. What should have been a quick two-hour round trip is well into its fifth hour, but soon they’ll point the nose westward and far above the bayous and rice fields, they’ll make their way home and I wait.

There’s nothing much harder than waiting. Waiting for a child to be born, for the results of a test, or a war to be over. There are so many waiting. Waiting for a word from the one they love, just one word that they are safe and healthy and when they might be coming home. That is the sacrifice of loving an ordinary person with extraordinary courage.

I’ve had a small taste of that kind of waiting. My son was a police officer on the worst streets of our city, and for two years I didn’t watch the news, I lay down at night knowing he was out there, praying for God to keep him alert, wise, and alive. Morning was a relief, his shift was over, there had been no phone call in the night, it was another night safe and I could breathe again.

With my other son the waiting has been in endless hospital rooms, for surgeries to be over, for pain to pass, for answers and healing. A different kind of waiting, but when it’s your child and you don’t have control over their safety or pain, it’s all the same. You pray, you cry, you wait.

As night falls on those who serve or suffer and the ones who wait, may it be another night safe.

©2011-2012 itsa5doglife  All Rights Reserved.

The Lump at the Foot of the Bed

bedI need more sleep. I need the kind of sleep where you actually get to lay flat on your back with your arms stretched out or on your side, without worrying if you roll back over, you will be on the floor. I want to move my legs without having to move eleven pounds of dead-weight dachshund out of the way, only to have that same dead-weight pushed back to my side when my husband decides to move his legs.

The dead-weight is named Shasta and came to our home via Hurricane Katrina, having been abandoned with her sister near a co-workers home. I agreed to adopt one of the pups and we were delighted with how loving and friendly she was, even when she made no bones about the fact that she fully intended to sleep in our bed. Poor little soul, she needs to feel safe, she can curl up with us a few nights. We actually said this out loud.

Let it be said, however, Shasta does not share well. In fact, she considers the bed hers and that we are just squatters she tolerates in her space. She comes to bed at her leisure – I don’t know what she does between the time we go to bed and she joins us, but based on the looks of her, I suspect clandestine cat food eating is involved. We are drifting off peacefully, and then, here she comes, bounding up the steps to the bed, jumping over my husband (but she always misses and lands on him) then immediately puts her cold wet nose in one of our faces until we lift up the covers so she can get under them. Let the fun begin.

She’s now under the covers about shoulder area, this is Stage One, the pre-sleep grooming station. Shasta proceeds to chew and lick every inch of her body, while making sure at least some portion of her frame is touching both of ours so we get the full shaking effect. Then there is the slurping sound as she attends to her nether region, which she can barely reach so we are also treated to mid-slurp panting as she catches her breath. Throughout this whole ordeal, my husband is poking her with his elbow, whispering “Stop it Shasta.” All that does is encourage her to poke her head back out of the covers, look at him with distain, dive back under and begin again all over again. Apparently the bathing process bears no interruption.

Finally her bath is complete and she sighs, loudly. Now she must get comfortable and this is achieved by laying horizontally between us. Lovely, now neither of us can move. Luckily, that doesn’t last too long and she begins the descent to the foot of the bed and this is accomplished in inches. She lays, she inches downward and lays again, then 15 minutes later, it’s another inch. During her descent, if we have the audacity to move our bodies, in our own bed, she protests with a sound that I can’t even describe. It’s somewhere between a groan and a whine and highly annoying, therefore, obviously doing its job. This dog can be in a dead sleep and if I move my arm to a different position, I get the “grump”.

It’s now near midnight and the journey to the foot of the bed is finally complete. She’s now a lump where normally I would put my feet, but since in her world my feet have no business there, I move them to the side so as not to disturb her majesty’s rest.

This peace will last until the early morning hours when some primordial urge in her signals the gradual ascent must begin. This happens by way of sliding up my body, as close as she can get. By morning, I have my fan blowing on me, no covers and a dachshund attached to my back like a giant furry leech. I am hanging on the edge of the bed facing the wall, fearing heat stroke, trying to get away from the living breathing heating pad.

It is daylight and I say to her several times, “Get up Shasta, let’s go outside.” She lays there playing dead. By this time, my husband has had enough, flips the covers off her, and calmly says, through his clinched teeth, “Shasta, go outside.” Sleepily she raises her head, then painstakingly drags her body up and towards the stairs to get off the bed, stops to stretch, silently yawns and turns and looks at us and then bounds down the stairs to await her breakfast. IMG_0770

©2011-2012 itsa5doglife  All Rights Reserved

Note: Shasta is now sleeping in her own bed with the smaller dogs – thank goodness.


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