As is my habit on school days, I awoke at a ridiculously early hour to release the Hound of the Basketballs, get my shower, and make the Spawn’s breakfast before our 8 a.m. class. However, just before I stepped into the shower, I heard the dog barking with an unusual sense of urgency.
For those of you new to the blog, the Hound of the Basketballs is a Boston Terrier, coming in right around 20 pounds. Being a terrier, she is quite instinctively fond of chasing rodents, birds and whatever else might wander into our back yard. She’s almost never successful — our sliding glass doors have a much higher avian kill rate than the dog. But she is spunky, if by spunky we mean “not exactly a canine Jeopardy! contestant.” On numerous occasions, Mrs. M or I have been compelled to drag the dog away from a freshly treed squirrel, lest her yapping (the Hound’s, not Mrs. M’s) wake the whole neighborhood.
I figured the yapping would be particularly unwelcome before 5 a.m. (I said it was ridiculously early), so I opened the door to call her in, and as I said, the barking was more intense than usual. And it was dark, and I called the dog, to no avail. I saw her at the base of a large tree near our back fenceline, and went out to retrieve her.
As I said, I was getting ready to get my shower when the dog had started barking. Fortunately, I wasn’t entirely ready, and even more fortunately, it was still dark, so neighbors and passersby were spared the sight of Your Genial Host, barefoot and clad only in his undies, making his way through the yard toward the Hound.
Although I wasn’t shouting imprecations at the dog, I’ll admit to thinking of a few, while simultaneously hoping I didn’t step on or in anything unpleasant — there was a reason I had let the dog out, after all. And when I got to the tree in question, I discovered that it was hosting a large raccoon, one looking to be about the size of the Hound herself. Suddenly, I found myself needing to prevent the dog from learning about the Tennysonian view of “Nature, red in tooth and claw/ With Ravine”.
“[Hound],” I said, “You want no part of that raccoon.” She disagreed, of course — spunky, remember? Indeed, her attitude seemed to be disappointment that I hadn’t brought a ladder for her to scale the tree herself. And she had no interest in going in, so I had to grab her. Easier said than done. The hound is remarkably agile for something that looks like a canned ham with pointy ears, and far less concerned with stepping on uncomfortable things.
After a few minutes of chase, however, she finally sat down and rolled onto her side, which allowed me to pick her up and bring her in. The whole episode took about ten minutes, and it still wasn’t quite five in the morning yet. Mrs. M and the Spawn slept on — indeed, Mrs. M may still be asleep, and I’m sure the dog is.
And how was your morning?