I’m a simple man. I suppose that’s why there is so much I don’t understand in the world. For instance . . . last week we had a grandchild sleepover. I sort of understand how heat-seeking missiles work, but what is it with Grammy-seeking grandchildren? Just the slightest disturbance in their night’s rest, and the next thing I know they’re snuggled in, their tiny bodies attached like lampreys to her side, while their little feet flail away at me until I’m sprawled on the floor.
As usual, I staggered out to the couch and pulled a woefully inadequate blanket up around my shoulders. It was about midnight, and I needed to be up at 5:00 a.m.
Two hours and 17 minutes later, I heard my wife’s dog start to cough. The coughing is just a warning shot. If you ignore the cough, significantly worse comes in a couple minutes. Now, grandchildren stalking the night in search of the elusive Grammy is one thing, but a grandchild startled awake by a barking dog is something completely different - and much worse.
The dog is old, deaf, has cataracts and a bad limp, and needs to go outside at least once a night. When there are no grandchildren present, I pretend not to hear the dog coughing. Letting her out is kind of a project, because she can’t see in the dark anymore. So rather than risk stumbling on the stairs, she’ll just stand on the top step and bark until someone comes to her aid. I’ve had old dogs in my life before, but those dogs always lived outside - the place where dogs are supposed to live. I don’t understand why this one lives inside, but that decision is not up for debate.
I leaped off the couch and let the dog outside. It was raining and there were two cats and a rather large Newfoundland that thought it would be more pleasant in the house. I stood in the door fighting them off while I waited for the little dog to finish her task and come back inside. The cats knew the score – outside was rain, darkness, and skunks. Inside there were couches to ruin and food to steal. They took turns rushing me and I’d reach down, grab one at a time, and fling it into the night. The Newfoundland was another story. She simply wanted to be as close to me as possible and was mildly puzzled as to why I wasn’t coming outside to play. When I first showed up at the door she had leapt to her feet and said, “Hey, cool. I was getting bored. Come on, let’s frolic!”
She weighs about 100 pounds, and in an impressive display of passive resistance, she’d go completely limp and sprawl at my feet when I tried to push her away. Meanwhile, the Ninja-Nazi cats tried to sneak by on either side. The little dog stood just out of reach, politely waiting for the log jam at the door to subside before attempting to come back inside. The fact that she’s deaf didn’t stop me from calling her, repeatedly, but that wasn’t as useful as you might hope. I finally carried the Newfoundland down the steps, swept up the little dog, and retreated inside the house.
Did I mention it was raining?
Then I tracked down the two cats that had managed to get inside in all the confusion. One was hiding under my desk, the other had its head inside the cat food bag.
I turned on enough lights so the little dog could find her way down the stairs, waited until she limped her way to the bottom, then turned off the lights and made my way to the couch.
I fell asleep, but not for a while.
I’m not sure why I had trouble dropping off, but then, I’m a simple guy. There’s a lot I don’t understand.
Copyright 2013 Brent Olson