Saturday, May 10, 2003


I have a certain routine to my life. Most mornings I get up and let the dogs outside. I leave them out while I shower, dress and make some chewable coffee. Then the fun begins...trying to get the dogs to come in, without waking everyone in the neighborhood at 2 in the morning.

There is no system for "dog herding". Sometimes I merely open the door and all three dogs scurry inside. Those are the good days. Those are the days when I am running ahead of schedule. Those are the days it's not raining. Those are the days the dogs aren't covered in mud. Those are the days of my dreams.

Usually it plays out more like this: Klondike barrels in with paws caked in black clay soil. As I try to remove the mud from his feet while keeping it off my clothes, he slobbers all over me and then, when I call out the door to the other dogs, Klondike goes running back out to get more mud on his paws.

Winston, our "special needs" dog, has never quite understood "dog herding". It's obvious he knows he's supposed to do something when I open the door, but each morning he seems to forget what that something is. That means sometimes he wags his tail at me and barks. Other days he grabs anything he can find, a piece of wood, a chew toy, or a rock, and starts to run around the yard assuming I'm in the mood to chase him. Some days he just sits and howls.

The one option that rarely seems to cross his cute but dimmed mind is to actually come inside. This usually results in me having to scamper about the yard until I can 'trap' him in area where he can't get by me. Then he'll give me a look of resignation, sit down and wag his tail as if to say, "That was fun, wanna go inside now?".

Meanwhile Avery is almost always "hunting". She will find or search for frogs, snakes, mice, rats, and some mysterious creature that apparently lives under our house. Quite regularly she ignores my beckoning and busies herself sticking her nose in the deep crevices of our patio while breathing in and out almost like she's trying to suck some unnamed demon from the depths of our foundation through her snout. Usually, I can get Avery's attention with minimal stomping about, and a few mild expletives.

All of this activity is my "routine"... I'm used to it. Now however my routine is being disrupted. Klondike no longer barges inside as quickly, and Avery is no longer burying her face in the cracks of our cement. Instead, they are both usually found running back and forth along the back fence line with great excitement. They ignore all my attempts to get them indoors and instead give me looks as if to say, "Are you crazy? And miss this?"

This creature is the reason why:

A possum has taken up residence in our back yard.

While Klondike and Avery are now even less inclined to pay attention to my sense of urgency, Winston, of course, doesn't really comprehend why the other dogs are frenzied; however he's perfectly willing to take advantage of this new development by resulting to his fall back position.

He'll wag his tail and bark, grab something to chew on and take off running, or sit and howl.

It's fine comedy really, except most days I miss the humor.

I don't really fault the possum for breaking up my routine... After all our backyard is a virtual hospitality zone. There's dog food...fresh water... and each morning, I put on a show.