On those nights I don’t work I try to stay up as late as possible, and in doing so really wreck the mutt’s sleep cycles. I really don’t have much sympathy for them because their job is to protect the house while I’m away, or while I’m sleeping, so unless there is a crime, they have lots of free time. The two older dogs are pretty much cool with this. They view this as another excuse to lie around on a carpeted floor and snooze. The Loki Mutt sees sleeping dogs as probable targets for leg biting, and my leg is on the menu when he’s quick about it. When he isn’t quick one of the older dogs will get an ear, and I have to put up with the fuss, or I get bit, and have learned not to kick as hard as I can. Lucas has a hard head.
At six in the morning I went to sleep and heard an odd sound. I could hear Bert breathing, Sam sleeping, but nothing from Lucas. Instead there was a slight scraping sound, like someone pulling a towel across the floor. That’s perfectly fine, if Lucas wants to play with a towel that keeps him…
BARK BARK BARK SNARL GROWL BARK SNARL!
It sounds like they’re filming the canine version of “The Exorcist” under my bed. The Loki Mutt has decided to crawl under the bed to reappear on the other side to ambush Bert, who sleeps nearly under the bed. Bert, having discovered the attack, reacts negatively. Sam, not knowing what is under the bed, assumes it’s the Manson Family. Lucas, realizing now the folly of attacking from a position he cannot easily exit, decides the best course of action is to bark as loudly as possible, knowing that I will wake up and shoo them all outside, thus relieving him of his strategic blunder.
Lucas crawls out from under the bed with dust rhinos clinging to him and I make a note to clean house more often than full lunar eclipses occurring on Pagan holidays. I herd the dogs and the dust rhinos out into the yard, and go back to bed. The sun has been up for a couple of hours now and it is going to be very hot.
Sam doesn’t like hot. He wants to be inside where it’s cooler, and he scratches on the door. Sam has the longest toes of any dog I have ever met in my life. He will put his foot on the door and pull down slowly. It sounds like someone holding a fistful of nails stripping paint off the door of a Cathedral. Bert doesn’t like hot either. Bert likes water and Bert likes mud. I let the dogs back in only to discover that Bert looks more like an otter now than a dog. Worse, he smells like a wet dog covered in mud that was made from rolling around in stagnant pond water. Note I didn’t use some analogy to describe this. None is needed, I assure you. There isn't any smell on earth so foul that I could insert it and make Bert’s smell come across to you worse than telling you he’s a wet dog covered in stagnant pond water mud encrusted with aquatic plant life. I call Steven King and I ask if he needs some terribly monster to write about and when I tell him what I have he hangs up screaming at me about being sick and sadistic. My lack of sleep keeps me from remembering the Steven King I know works out of a farm and has never written a thing.
I sleep enough o dream about going somewhere and meeting someone and then we’re riding down the road in Fargo Georgia and someone driving beside us has some stripped down truck where the engine is visible from the outside and I can see the fan spinning. I can fell the wind on my face. I can hear Lucas barking.
Lucas barks at snakes; a singularly futile endeavor. The two older dogs seem to ignore them entirely but Lucas wants some reaction. I throw a softball at his head and he chases it. Damn, poor choice of weapon. I go out to discover the snake is actually a limb that just fell out of a tree.
I go back to bed, and realize this waking and sleeping is worse than not sleeping at all.
I’m drifting in and out of sleep when I hear Lucas barking again. Sam joins him. I determine I ought not react. They are just looking to get me up again. It’s a conspiracy. They just want attention.
Bert has just hammered down on Bert’s Bark Of The First Order. There are strange humans here, and they are on the property. In the decade plus I’ve shared my life with Bert, and he has shared his with mine, he’s pulled that bark out only when I really needed to get involved in something. Without looking I pick up the shotgun and check to see if it’s loaded. My neighbors know I sleep at night. Nothing I’ve ordered is due.
WOOWOOOWOOWOOWOOWOOO! Dammit, Mike! They are right on top of us!
“That dog won’t let us through the gate.” The man tells me.
“Pay’em not to.” I say, but leave the shotgun inside.
“We’re here to assess your property.” He says.
“What do you need to get into my back yard for?”
“Have to made any additions to the house or constructed any outbuildings?”
He edges around the corner of the yard and to my everlasting surprise, Lucas curls a lip and snarls. It’s a low and evil sound, and Sam turns around and looks at Lucas as if to say, “Where did you learn that?” Lucas drops his head down low, like Bert has his, and Bert looks like a mud monster with a ridge on his back. The man looks at a photo he brought and looks at the backyard. He comes around front and sees the sign I’ve put up stating I sleep at night and apologizes.
“I see why you keep that fence charged, Mr. Firesmith. That dog acts like he’s bad.” This isn’t a bad or evil man, just one with a job to do.
“Mostly noise.” I reply. “But that’s what I pay him to be.”
“I didn’t know Weimaraners were such good guard dogs.” He says as he leaves.
Lucas. The man was talking about Lucas. I look into the backyard with new eyes and I see Lucas is the largest of the three. He isn’t a puppy. He’s watching the man leave with an interest that doesn’t have anything to do with play or petting.
My Loki Mutt has grown up.