Where Were You at 5 AM?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

Where were you at 5 AM this morning?

Wait.  If you are a farmer or in any branch of the military, that question is rhetorical.  For the rest of you, it isn't.

Me?  Oh, I was in my boxers and sandals, in my backyard, screaming into the darkness.

This is not a metaphor.

At 4:40, my dog Grover, who had suddenly become uncontrollably dehydrated right before bed, started clicking and clacking is paws across the bedroom floor.  "Go back to bed," my wife groan-screamed.

He didn't.  I got up, corralled him back onto his bed, and re-covered him up.

At 4:50 he was back up and sitting directly against the bedroom door.  Essentially, he is watching me in my sleep sending "let me the fuck out" vibes until my eyes open.  My eyes open.  Looks like I'm taking Grover to pee.

Most of the time, almost all the time actually, Grover is really well behaved off-leash.  Does he run off occasionally? Of course he does.  He's a dog.  But for the most part Grover's worst fear (after thunder and the vacuum cleaner) is being left alone (again--he's a rescue), so he has very little permanent interest in getting away.  Which is why, when you are pissed off after hunting him down for 45 minutes, he will just stare back at you with this huge "i just got exercise and explored!" face with zero hint of recognition that he was previously "lost."
I see rodent people. 
But a few days ago, the dog that lives in the house directly on the other side of the forrest/swamp in our backyard moved away (not to doggy heaven for the record).  Seeing as there was no longer a dog around, my neighbor (who I happen to know--but not very well) dumped the pounds and pounds of leftover dog food in his compost -- which is in the forrest between our houses --all the way on his side of course.

Since then, all bets have been off.  I already wrangled Grover out of the compost once last Sunday (which is how I know all about his compost heap).  But, considering it was 4:55 AM and we both seemed pretty groggy, I thought Grover and I would go out, quick pee, back to bed.  And, come morning, I would be my wife's hero for sacrificing myself so she could stay sleeping.

I open the door and in a blur Grover bolts into the back of the house.  Initially I am not surprised or concerned.  Grove sometimes bolts back there, poops, and heads home.  But after a few minutes standing in the chilly night air in only my boxers (remember: out, quick pee, back to bed), I decide to head back there myself to round him up.  He's bouncing around the backyard chasing the daredevil groundhog who has taken up residence.   I can't tell if he's done his business or not.  As I approach him, he springs into play pose and jet's sideways towards the other end of the backyard -- the entrance to the pathway to our neighbor's compost.

As I pursue him across the lawn, I smell the poop.  This is a bad sign.  If he went to the bathroom and hasn't turned tail to come back inside, he's gonzo.  I begin to holler his name.  My tone is essentially one of begging the universe to return my dog.  I have more faith in the universe bringing him back than him coming back on his own.  You don't really understand helplessness until you are shouting a Sesame Street characters name at full volume into a quiet forrest while still mostly asleep.

*Tangent* People often like to compare having a dog to having a baby.  I submit this as one of those moments where the analogy truly falls short (as I recognize that it does in many other ways as well).  Babies just don't run into the woods at night like they used to.  The times have really changed.  *End Tangent*

I'm freezing, mostly naked, and now I have to poop as well.

As I head inside to go to the bathroom and put some clothes on to continue my search, my wife is just making her way into the bathroom.  There is no way to rush a sleepy wife, but I swear to you all that  I almost shit myself waiting the next 3 minutes for her to exit the lavatory.  That ordeal concluded, I went in search of "drivable clothing".  My wife is still groggy.  She realizes what is happening, but is sleepy enough to only be able to wander the front yard somewhat aimlessly (if the circumstance had been any different, this would have been adorable).  I throw on sweats and a top (I can't remember what it was) and begin the drive around the corner, then down the long driveway to my neighbors place -- at 5:05 AM.

It is very difficult to slowly creep your way down someone's driveway that early in the morning and not feel like you should be arrested.  I mean, my window is rolled down, I'm scanning my surroundings and I stop halfway to go scurry into the woods.  I do need to be arrested.  I am doing nothing illegal and yet I'm terrified that somehow a police cruiser will show up out of nowhere and I'll be all over the town's blotter the next morning.  "Amherst man arrested while searching through neighbor's compost."  How New England.

At first I can't see him.  In order to get my car's headlights off the house itself, I pull all the way up to the house and turn around.  I then return to the break in the shrubs where the compost is.  Still nothing.  I turn my engine off and just listen.  After a few moments, there is a rustling.  That is either my dog, or the new headline will read "Amherst man mauled by mountain lion while searching through neighbor's compost!"  Still trè New England.

Gotta bite the bullet.  I head into the woods with my flashlight and a handful of dog treats.  "Grover . . . Grover . . . come here puppy," I speak in a earnest whisper.  And then, hiding just to the side of the pile of dog food, is my dog.  His expression -- oddly -- is one of complete recognition that he is a bad bad dog! 

At that point he realizes he is 'caught' and doesn't take off again.  Tail curled under and face held low, he pitter patters into the car's backseat.  I close the door and drive the 60 seconds back to the house. Then its back up the stairs and mercifully back into bed.

It felt like hell week for the mutt marines.  I dogged more before 9 AM than most people do all day.

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