At 2:30 this morning Spider, our liver and white Springer Spaniel, woke me up to say that he needed to go out. I attempted to ignore him and hoped that my husband would wake up and take care of it. I knew quite well that my husband was not going to wake up and it was clear that Spider wasn’t going to stop gurgling and quiet-barking at me so I rolled out of bed to let him out.
Our backyard (which I am still pretending with all my might doesn’t exist) is crawling with weeds and sagebrush that are bigger than I am. Both dogs have taken to going out there and rooting around, looking for mice to eat, I’m sure. Our neighbors recently had a rattlesnake in their backyard (their backyard butts up to our side yard) so we have been trying to discourage the dogs from sticking their heads in dark places.
Last week I had to let Spider out in the middle of the night and after he relieved himself, he proceeded to run around the yard like a nut case for 10 minutes, disappearing behind large pieces of sagebrush for minutes on end, while I stood at the back door, trying to yell as loud as I could in a whisper that if he didn’t get back inside immediately I was going to take away all the pillows (what better threat to give a dog to thinks it’s his God-given right to sleep on the couch). Remembering this incident, I decided last night that I would outsmart these dogs and instead of letting them into the wilds of the backyard, I would instead turn them loose in the front yard.
Perhaps you’re thinking this is going to be a story about how the dogs are, in fact, smarter than I am. In this instance, that is not the case.
I let them outside and I stood near the front door, watching Spider go to the bathroom on the tree. I couldn’t keep an eye on Ralph because he is black and he blends into the night but I trusted that he wasn’t running away because he wasn’t barking and when he runs away he barks. A lot.
So there I stood on the front porch wearing nothing but a t-shirt and some bright green underwear.
Spider finished peeing and I called him to come back inside. And he turned towards me. I could hear Ralphie heading in my direction although I still couldn’t see him because seriously, that dog is as black as the night.
And I breathe a sigh of relief. The whole middle of the night bathroom session appeared to be coming off without a hitch! I was prepared to stumble back inside, not having fully woken up, trusting that I would fall back asleep without any trouble.
And then I looked down. And what did I see? I saw Pickles, the cat, walking passed me. And suddenly I am wide awake.
We don’t let Pickles outside because she would be eaten by a coyote in a matter of minutes and although Doug sometimes believes this to be preferable to having her claw at the furniture, we usually agree that she should be kept inside.
When I let the dogs out, I had pulled the door closed behind me but it hadn’t shut all the way. I do this all the time. In fact, there has been more than one occasion on which I left the door wide open while bringing things into the house from the car. And has the cat ever tried to escape? No. But then again, none of those occasions happened to be the middle of the night. And on most of those occasions I was probably wearing pants.
I wrangled the dogs back into the house because I knew they weren’t going to be helpful in this situation. I stood in the driveway and listened to the coyotes howling just beyond the fence and I looked at the cat who was sitting underneath the car.
“Psh–psh–psh–psh.” I try, knowing that the cat doesn’t react to that sound um, you know, like ever.
I go back inside and find some cat treats. I take them outside and shake them.
The cat doesn’t move.
I throw some treats in her direction.
She slinks further underneath the car where I really won’t be able to reach her.
I sit down on the driveway and try to figure out what I’m going to do. Pickles comes out from underneath the car and sniffs the grass. I stand up. She goes back underneath the car.
I sit back down. I contemplate just going back inside and leaving her outside. If she gets eaten by a coyote she can’t say I didn’t warn her. I decide that I at least have to try a little harder to catch her.
She wanders out from under the car, back towards the house.
I get excited. Maybe this will work out! Inside I know that won’t happen.
Pickles goes underneath the other car.
I sit back down on the driveway.
And then Pickles proved that she is a cat, an animal who doesn’t put much thought into anything she does. She momentarily forgot that I was trying to capture her and that all she had to do was run into the black night and I wouldn’t even be able to chase her. She instead looked away from me just long enough for me to hurl myself under the car and grab her.
So there I was, sprawled out in the driveway, halfway underneath the car, wearing no pants with a death grip on the cat. I can feel that I’ve skinned my knee. And the cat. Do you think she is pleased? Oh no. She is not. In fact, she is quite the opposite of pleased.
I maintain the death grip around her middle and try to ignore the fact that she is wiggling and clawing at any part of me she comes into contact with. I get her back into the house and toss her onto the floor.
The dogs are standing there, staring at me.
The clock says it’s 3 am. I have been sitting on the driveway in my underwear for 30 minutes.
I imagine that this is the reason people wear pants when they sleep.