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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Remembering To Count The Dogs

There are many quotes about counting;  counting your blessings, counting sheep to sleep at night, counting days or hours until . . . whatever that is you are waiting for happens, counting money, counting the stars at night, counting the words you are writing for your novel, especially if you are participating in NaNoWriMo this month! There are many more fine examples, but in counting my brain cells this evening, they seem fewer than normal, so I'll stop with this list above.
I have a special count I make each time I let my dogs into the yard. I count them as they come back in. Each body that wiggles or races or drags through my kitchen door is numbered. One, two, three, four, five, six! Once I have reached six  I can close the door and go about my business. Sometimes, I forget to count and just assume six dogs have come back in. Especially challenging, when only half the pack goes out, trying to count who is still in and who is reentering.  Sometimes I mess up. A dog gets left outdoors. While most dogs love to be out, my pack loves to be in. When a dog is left unaccounted for, well, there is a price for me to pay. No dog wants to be outside alone. Not in the heat of a summer day, certainly not in a rain storm, but as I found out a few minutes ago, not in the dark of night.
Four hours ago I fed the hounds. I opened the back door to my large fenced yard, well lit by lights around the premises, and dogs ran, in many directions. Dogs ran into the yard, dogs ran into the sunroom, and dogs ran into the living room. I assume they had a game afoot, romping and playing with each other. Of course, the purpose of the open door was for the dogs to go out for their last evening run to pee. All the dogs came safely back to the sunroom and settled in, or so I thought. I'd forgotten to count.
Pounding away on my keyboard (sounds like I am really knocking out my NaNoWriMo novel, doesn't it?) I heard a howl from my back yard. A high pitched howl that seemed to come from the far side so I had to think, is this my dog or a neighbors? The howl came again and I knew who it was. (don't you know the sound each of your pups makes? an individual sound like no other dog, the dog's voice as I like to call it) and swung around. Five dogs were sound asleep. Rascal was missing.
I looked at the clock at the bottom of my monitor screen. Holy cripes, it was almost eleven-thirty. And my dog was outside making a hideous sound, one my closest neighbor on the other side of the stone wall, would most likely hear. We have a truce - I keep the hounds quiet after ten.
Barefoot and in my PJs, I dashed to the kitchen and ran out. Loudly, but quietly as I could, I called out into the night, "Rascal".  What a perfect name for a little thirty-five pound butterball of a dog who gets in trouble more often than not! I called again, my voice a little louder, "Rascal!"
Across the yard, from the far corner by the right-of-way, my butterball came running. She sprung into the kitchen and came to a sliding halt. Then she looked at me with a bit of disdain. If I could have read her mind, she might have been saying, you left me outside for four hours!
I looked at her and wondered what she had been up to for that time. Her howls only surfaced in the last few minutes. There was a smudge of dirt over her brow, or was that one of her markings? She is a colorful gal. All pinky white, one blue-eye and one brown. Her back looks like a brindle sweater, and her tummy is full of polka dots. My little clown dog. I grabbed a few biscuits and fed her. Smiling, happy she was back inside, although honestly, I had no clue she was missing. Safe in the yard, but missing from her usual spot on the couch.
Yes, I count my blessings. And among my blessings are six dogs that make me happy to be a member of the pack. Just shame on me! I must remember to count my dogs when I close my doors. One, two, three, four, five, six. Oh good, now I can relax.
It's exhausting having an adventure!

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