I have the day off but I forgot to tell the alarm clock. I also forgot to mention it to four dogs who are accustomed to being let out when the alarm goes off. Lilith doesn’t grumble when her sister, Tyger crawls over her to get out of the crate; Lilith hears rain and she rather hold it than go out. But we’re going out before it gets serious out there and today it is supposed to get very serious. Even Sam moves a little more quickly today. Get out, get it over with and get back in. Tyger disappears into the black, Lucas close behind her but Lilith hangs back. Sam stumbles behind the younger dogs making not even the slightest effort to keep up.
I have no idea how long can Sam can keep it up but I’ll give up after he does.
Breakfast is something that is an orderly affair. Even Tyger knows there is a bowl for everyone and everyone has their own bowl. No stealing. No crowding. No fussing. Yay! But I am in no mood to get up. After everyone is fed I go back to bed and watch the lightning in the darkness coming. Sam hates thunder. He’s on the bed even before Lucas. Lucas arrives and Tyger springs up next to him, on top of Lucas’ back, and he’s forced to give ground. Tyger wants to be beside me. She wants to cuddle. Lilith takes the crate as her own, happily.
Tyger nibbles. Instead of kisses she nibbles. I push face away from mine and tell her no. She creeps in and nibbles. I push her away and tell her no. After the ten or twentieth time, Tyger pushes her face next to mine and licks my nose. No nibbles. I pet her ears and Tyger settles down. I feel the weight of her head on my chest and I can hear her breathe in the darkness. Tyger’s tiny body melts into mine and I listen for the sound of the other dogs; Lucas’ heavy wheeze through his half face, Sam’s old snore, and over in the crate, the steady breath of Lilith eases through the morning.
The room lights up a fraction of a second before the thunder hits. Lilith lands on the bed a half second later. Sam stirs and tries to move closer to me. Lucas doesn’t so much as twitch. Tyger come up on her front legs and I can feel her heartbeat thumping in her chest. Her entire body is tense and ready for action. I put my hand on her head and feel her ears plastered back on her head.
I speak softly to her, “It’s okay” and these words are words she will hear again and again for she doesn’t know yet it is. Where was this little dog before she landed in the shelter? Where did she stay in storms like this in the year or so she was off everyone’s radar? How did she deal with such noise and light? Now she stands on her front legs and there is noise and bright light and someone tells her, “It’s okay.”
Slowly, Tyger lies down again, heart still pounding, and she turns and licks my face, no nibbling. Is it? Is it okay?
Tyger’s body melds into mind again the rhythm of her heart now inaudible. Her lungs fill and release, there is more thunder, more lightning, but now there is something different. Tyger smells the scent of my body, Lucas nearby, Lilith at the foot of the bed, and Sam on the other side. The heavy odor of coffee fills the house as well as that of breakfast. Each breath she takes fills her world with these smells. This is home. This is family. This is where I went to sleep last night and this is where I woke up this morning. There is a place for me here and I am loved. I am loved here. I am loved. It is okay. The rain pounds the roof and Tyger knows that she is inside and the rain is outside and she will be warm and she will be dry. Tyger’s breath tells me she has slipped back into sleep.