February 24, 2021
At approximately 12:15 p.m. every day except Sundays in the Ashbury household, we pause to enjoy a very strange musical interlude. Because I’m anal and I live to categorize, I have dubbed this interlude “The Lament of the Left Behind Puppy”, and it is a musical movement in two parts.
Those of you who’ve read these essays of mine know that we are the parents to two dogs. The pups are fifteen months old, a boy and a girl, and are the progeny of our late, beloved Mr. Tuffy. Each day, David walks the dogs. He always takes Missy Dawg for the first puppy walk of the day. He does this every day except Sunday, weather permitting, and has done so for just about a year, now.
Once Daddy and Missy are out the door, Bear performs the first part of this musical movement, since he is, of course, the first puppy that is left behind. He’s a soprano, unusual for a male dog, but not for one of his…we’ll call it diminutive stature (he’s a bit over 5 pounds). He ably leads the other four dogs who are also not walking with his daddy in a magnificent chorus of mournful howls and yips, reminiscent of coyotes—musical key of which is not known because while I have a good musical ear, I am not musically trained.
The second part of the movement is performed by Missy Dawg, once her daddy betrays her by taking her brother for a walk without her. Now, Missy has been laboring under the false impression that her daddy is her daddy, and no other dog’s. This is, of course, a big lie. Not as musically gifted as her brother, Missy nonetheless enthusiastically embraces her solo performance with passion and devotion, giving a series of yips and barks apparently deeply felt and relentlessly non-stop, that only the most musically talented ear could possibly interpret. And when her daddy finally comes home, she lets Bear know that he was a bad, bad brother for absconding with her daddy. Every. Single. Day. (Except Sundays).
As you can well imagine, The Lament of the Left Behind Puppy effectively marks the end of my productive work period. Any ideas or inspiration that had been lurking on the periphery of my mind to that point are, I guarantee you, gone, gone, gone, once that lament begins. As is, I believe, a tiny little bit of my ability to hear.
That’s not to say, of course, that noon hour is the only time that the dogs make sufficient noise to wake the dead. If one of them barks, the others usually follow suit. And the truth of the matter is that Missy is often the one who quite…well, mindlessly gets the yipping ball rolling.
Missy will bark at anything, real or imagined. I say imagined because it seems to us that she might just possess the ability to see ghosts. We’ve often seen her barking at a space where there is no one that we can see for her to bark at. But she clearly can (see someone or something, that is), and it’s always a puzzle to us.
This sometimes happens during my allotted work time to the point that I have to get up from my chair, leave the office and track down the offending little yipper. Missy sees me coming, knows she’s not supposed to make such a cacophony, and immediately rolls over and offers her belly for a rub. I figure that’s her version of an apology.
And of course, that performance of cuteness has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not she does it again as soon as I leave her sight and return to my office.
Because she always does it again.
Too be fair, there are also many days when those hours from when I get up until noon pass very quickly, and quietly. There are many days when I don’t even know the dogs are here, so immersed in their sleep are they. I have come to the conclusion that is the saving grace of all small dogs. They appear to require a great deal of sleep.
On days that find me heading into the living room more than three times to wag my finger at a dog, I finally will stop and tap David on the shoulder.
You see, he has his office in a corner of the living room. On any given day or time except, of course, walk time, he might be writing, or he might be composing an email, or, most usually, he’s fallen down a YouTube hole and having a good time. Doing the first two activities, he will not be wearing his headphones, but he will if he’s “tubing”.
And I have to alert him to get him to help with keeping the dogs from giving us a 6 doggie unscheduled cacophony because, of course, he’s very hard of hearing.
Or perhaps he’s just more talented at keeping out distractions than I am. To my mind, and the bottom line, it’s probably a matter of either/or.