I’m drinking coffee on the porch and it is nearly midnight. The house is dark and silent. I can hear the mutts whining and breathing to join me, but if I let them out into the front yard tonight I may never see them again. Three deer were almost at the door before Bert scented them, and when he let loose with his barking you would have thought the Manson Family was pulling up in a school bus. I have no idea if it’s a breed thing or if it’s just Bert, but when he lays it down you will get up to see what has caused him to bark. This is one of the few times he’s done this and there not been a person involved. I got to the door and flipped on the flood lights just in time to see three white tails heading over the fence. I went out to see what evidence they had left and found the remains of some old spinach. There were eating some of the stuff I left for the squirrels and I cannot believe the dogs let them get so close.
There is a storm cell riding the wind north of here, and it is traveling hard Southwest, but I think we’ll miss most of the action. The lightning is coming in sheets, flashes, and rumblings, but there aren’t any hot jagged bolts. The air is still and warm, humid like the breath of a sleeping dragon and it’s filled with insects. There will be no rain, but the stars above seem muted with the humidity. It’s uncomfortable out here, with the bugs and the sticky night air, but I like the frogs and night sounds. Bert paws at the door, but I’m still mad at him.
There’s a small flooded spot in the woods, close to the fence, and it’s about the size of a large bathtub. The water there is shallow, fetid, and covered with green algae and pond plants. It’s sort of an overflow area from the pond, and there isn’t enough water there really, to call it part of the pond, but Bert calls it home. The damn dog will not only wade around in it, oh no, he also likes to lay down in it, and when it’s really hot, Bert will roll around in it until he’s covered in mud and green pond plants. He looks like a green otter on LSD.
Bert’s fur is so thick I can hardly blame him for looking for some relief but there is a large washtub under a slightly dripping water faucet outside. He likes to sit in there sometimes, and even though he’ll get wet, and smells like a wet dog, it doesn’t compare to when he’s rolled in the decaying mud of the overflow. Bert smells like the underwear of the Skunk Ape when he’s rolled in pond mud. Worse, he knows he isn’t allowed in the house when he’s done this, or for that matter, when he’s wet, so he’ll try to sneak in. I left the backdoor open as I was changing my oil last week, and in the fifteen minutes it took, Bert got stinky, got sneaky, got mud all over the mutt blanket, and then got gone. I walk into the house and it smells like a gator farted. The blanket was almost a lost cause. I had to hose Bert down, and then dry him off, and that is where all the trouble started.
Bert likes the hose. “It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.” Load it up, Freakshow! Bert loves water and he loves playing with the hose, trying to bite the water, and chasing it. To combat this I get into the kennel with him, and wash him down there. Lucas wanted in on the action so I let him in and started to spray him with water. He acted like I was using napalm and tried to climb over the fence to get out. Okay, the one dog that is easy to dry off hates water.
Bert’s fur retained the reeking mud, as well as everything he’s rolled in; water plants come out on the first pass with the hose as well as small fish, salamanders, an egret, and parts of the Titanic. Mud washes away, and Bert is a frenzy of pure joy shakes off, spraying me with foulness. It takes a while to get him clean, and all the while, Lucas is pawing at the gate wanting it, running away screaming when I turn the hose on him, then coming back repeat as unnecessary. And Sam? Sam believes anything different is dangerous and he doesn’t like the water. Sam camps out on the deck, fifty yards away, and waits.
Now that I have Bert clean I have to get him inside, and once inside I have to towel him dry. This is one of Bert’s all time favorite things. Being toweled dry is paramount to the highest award a mutt can achieve in the house.
So this is the problem; when Bert rolls in the stinky mud he gets rewarded with all the stuff he likes. Maybe I should grill him a steak every time he does it and just get it over with.
A moth lands in my coffee and splashes around like Bert in the mud, but it also dies before I can send a lifeguard in. I have to go back inside, and I have to make more coffee. Bert wags his tail and me, and I notice his fur isn’t nearly as shiny as it once was. He doesn’t stand as tall, or as steady now, and I have to nudge him to get him to move. Lucas isn’t anything compared to what Bert was at his age. Bert was real work, hard work, and he was worth it, and he still is. This might be his last Summer, and the heat affects him so.
I’ll hose the stinky mutt down as many times as it takes, to get him livable, so he can come inside and spend time with me. So little is left, and none of it guaranteed.