Editorial November 2008 Issue

Autumn, Anew

Small, special moments with my dog.

Autumn seems to be having a positive effect on the internal clock of Otto, our new dog, helping him get in synch with a schedule that more closely resembles the one we follow – you know, sleeping at night and being active during the day? More frequently, I am enjoying the pleasure of being woken by the light of day, rather than Otto’s middle-of-the-night barking at feral cats, or his pre-dawn gallops back and forth past my bedroom window with a toy dangling from his mouth.

As I write this, in early October, his preference is still to sleep outdoors, even though the nighttime temperatures are dropping. He made an exception on the night of our first rain since last spring. Though he still sometimes curls up in the dirt, more and more, he’s been sleeping in a doorless crate on our back deck. It’s well protected from the weather – but when the rain started falling hard, he wanted to come into the house.

Nancy's New Dog Otto

I let him in, of course, and put a wooly (synthetic; he chews wool) mat (no padding; he chews foam) on the kitchen floor for him to lie on. I sincerely hoped he’d sleep on it. Past attempts to keep him in the house at night resulted in restless nights for the whole family, as he paced and whined and dropped toys loudly on the floors.

Maybe he was tired by the long walk we took in the rain before darkness fell, or perhaps it was the sudden change in the weather that curbed his usual interest in nighttime activities, but he lay quietly on the mat throughout the evening as we ate dinner and watched a movie. And he slept there until about 4 am! That’s when he padded into our bedroom to nudge my arm and let me know he was ready to greet the day. I could just barely make out his gleaming eyes and wagging tail.

It was quiet; the rain had stopped. I got up and tip-toed across the cold floor to open the sliding door to the backyard, intending to let him out and go right back to my warm bed. But when the door opened, Otto and I both lifted our noses at the intoxicating scent of the damp earth. And we both stepped out onto the deck, which was blanketed by wet, newly fallen leaves. We stood there for a long while, transfixed by the rich, earthy aroma, the brightness of the stars, and the distant sound of geese calling as they flew past, far overhead.

Then we both shivered – me from the cold, and him from excitement. “Have fun!” I whispered, as he trotted off to make his rounds. I was drifting back to sleep when I heard his first galloping trip past the bedroom window. He was play-growling and rhythmically squeaking a toy as he ran. I recognized its pitch – one of the stuffed bees from his “three bees in a hive” interactive toy.

I smiled to myself. And then I realized: I enjoy everything more with a dog in my life again!

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