Sleep comes and goes in cycles of deeper than shallower and somewhere in between there are dreams. I’ve learned to ignore dreams as reality. There is a hundred pounds of touchstone sleeping next to me and another fifty at my feet. As long as the dogs do not react to a noise, or a shadow, or some random waking dream, I refused to do so, too. This philosophy has settled my nerves on many a night when sleep was interrupted by those things in the night that haunt the world between dreams and awake.
Lilith slips off the bed as silently as a shadow herself and Lucas lifts his head. I can feel the tenseness of Lucas’ body. Something real has been heard or sensed and Lilith is at the window now. The night is as black as they are ever sold. If I move at all that will set Lucas into motion so I wait and I strain to hear. Nothing. The frogs are singing and there are night noises but nothing… Lilith my sweet little girl dog, lithe and loving, growls like no other dog I have known. It’s an ominous sound and it cuts deep into the blackness. The pitch of the growl is higher than normal. Lucas isn’t as stealthy; he jumps off the bed with a thud and I can hear Sam trying to stand. Lilith growls again. Yeah, it’s over now. She isn’t playing her part as the Cuddle Mutt or the Pibble Princess. I get out of bed as quietly as possible and reach over for the shotgun. I cannot see anything but I can hear Lucas over by the window with Lilith.
There is a sound, the slightest sound, the sound of something scraping against something else, and all hell breaks loose. Lucas hammers down with his voice. It’s a deep houndish sort of thing. Lilith rushes towards the back door yammering away and if there is a person outside they have to know they’ve been had. I swing the barrel of the shotgun towards the widow and it’s pointed less than ten feet from the back gate. If someone goes over that gate I’m going to know it. I won’t shoot them, but I sure as hell want the gun to be pointed in that direction.
No noise outside. Okay, not likely a person, but still. I walk to the back door where the Bark Party is in full swing, even Sam is up and braying now. And I release the hounds. Lilith and Lucas go into the doggie door at the same time, and because the real door isn’t locked, they wind up opening the door with the two of them crammed stuck in the doggie door. They back up which closes the door but they’re still inside.
Any day now, Guardians, while we’re still young, please, take your time.
Lilith flings herself out of the doggie door and Lucas is right behind her. Sam brings up the rear and it is so totally on right now, whatever it is, it is on. If it’s a person they better be armed because my dogs are. They sound incredible. It’s a furious sort of sound with Lilith growling while she runs and Lucas’ voice echoing off the trees and through the woods. Sam yelps as he runs into something and just for a second I wonder if something got him. But what? With that sort of commotion coming out of the door what in the name of Dorothy Parker would dare?
If you’re a human being in the backyard in pitch black dark why would you try to stand down that sort of train wreck bearing down on you? In the dead middle of the back yard those two dogs are going to be there in less than five seconds. Why would someone try it? And, oh by the way, I’ve a shotgun. No, there isn’t a human being out there but there is something. The dogs are positive there is something there and they are not happy.
The weak light from the flashlight reveals Lilith trying to climb an Oak tree near the edge of the backyard, right close to the northern shore of what was once the firepit. My Girl Dog is leaping straight up the trunk of the tree and she’s getting seven or eight feet with every bounce. Lucas has his nose on the ground and is trying to find a scent. The beam of the flashlight reveals…a raccoon on the first real limb of the tree. He is pissed. I take the shells out of the shotgun.
Okay, nothing to see here, move along, move along.
Sam is down with this idea. He pees on a small tree near the floodpit and wanders towards the house on command. Lucas hesitates. Lilith isn’t having anything to do with this. She wants the raccoon. K.
I put Lucas and Sam in the house and come back with the leash. Lilith isn’t having anything to do with the leash, at all, oh hell no. She jumps up in the air trying to pull away from me.
I smack her lightly across the nose with the leash and make her sit. She knows I’m serious now. She looks up at the raccoon and I pull her head back around. “Look at me” I tell her. Lilith really wants the raccoon, I mean, really. So we walk around the yard, with Lilith trying to talk me into letting her loose and me trying to talk her into leash training. Walk, stop, sit, lie down, come to me, walk, stop, sit, lie down, stay, walk, stop, sit, lie down… We walk past the tree and she pulls. I make her sit, make her look at me, make her stay, and then we walk. We finally walk past the tree, about an hour later, and she simply walks past the tree. We walk past the tree three times and Lilith doesn’t flinch.
Thirty minutes before it’s time to get up I lie down on the sofa with the Cuddle Mutt. She now understands that the person who brings home the dog food is also the person who decides what to chase, and when.
But damn, did we have to have class at three in the morning?
PS. I forgot I left the shotgun in the yard until I was leaving for work.