I sometimes wonder what my neighbours think about me, especially the ones who don't know me at all but just get to hear me whenever I yell at my dogs, Rocky mostly, in the backyard.
"What are you eating?" I'll yell from the patio door to Rocky who is at the far end of the yard gulping down something I can't make out.
"Don't put that in your mouth you dumbass!" is another favourite of mine and, no, I would never call Rocky a dumbass if I thought for a moment he knew what the insult meant but I know he doesn't because English isn't his mother tongue plus he's terrible at languages, at least compared to Stella, and overall, well, he is kind of a dumbass.
Sometimes, when I can sort of see what he's eating and I don't really want to know, I'll yell something like, "Jeezus that's disgusting, Rocky! Get away from that!" and Rocky will look at me with his "who brought this guy to the party" expression as he finishes chewing and gulps.
I suspect the neighbours think I'm like the parent who raises the sort of kids they'll want their kids to stay away from. If I had kids, this might be true but then if I had kids who made a habit of going into the backyard to feast from whatever they dug up, I'd probably dress them up in dog costumes, drop them off without any traceable ID at the pound and then make sure I never had anymore. Being a somewhat responsible dog owner doesn't guarantee that I will be a responsible parent.
Rocky's favorite thing is when he discovers some tasty morsel left behind by squirrels in his backyard. I'm talking about half eaten, rotten apples, stale, moldy bread, slimy corn on the cob, cheap ass birthday cake, nuts - all sorts of nuts. It must be like some kind of miracle for Rocky to run beserkers into the backyard, scaring the bejeezus out of the squirrels, getting them to dump their edible treasures into his mouth. So, maybe he's not a complete dumbass after all, except when he eats something really bad and he throws up his supper afterward.
My plan for this morning is to sleep in. This would be a real luxury and it's what vacations are for after all. Stella is still very much asleep but Rocky starts grunting and snorting and farting at eight a.m. so I get up, thinking that if I let him out now for a bathroom break then I can sleep in a bit longer afterward before having to take him and Stella for a real walk. I slip on my slipper and put on my bathrobe for warmth and then I take Rocky downstairs, while trying to hang onto my sleep daze so I can get back to sleep easier, and let him out. I see him run to the back of the backyard where he pees on some firewood (I find it gives the wood an interesting aroma when burned) and then he begins nosing a pile of leaves a little too intently. Then I see him lift his head and chew and swallow something. So, I yell at him.
"Rocky, stop eating whatever you're eating and get back in here! Now!" and I add for good measure, "Don't make me come out there," which I wouldn't do anyway since it's bloody cold out and I'm in my pajamas and I don't want to completely lose my sleepy state. Rocky, always somewhat good at recall, comes trotting back and follows me back upstairs to bed. I take off the bathrobe and slip off the slippers. Rocky crawls back into his bed. I crawl back into mine. I put my head down on my pillow hoping to snooze at least another hour.
Rocky starts to make slurping noises. I figure he's just cleaning his feet or his penis which he seems to like doing in the morning so I try to ignore him, waiting for him to finish. Except he doesn't finish. Five minutes later, he's still slurping away. I look up from my pillow and see that he's just slurping his tongue out of his mouth and then trying to swallow. I'm thinking maybe whatever thing he gulped down earlier was sticky and got stuck on the roof of his mouth kind of like peanut butter. Yes, I know, a totally gross thought to be having when I'm trying to get back to sleep but now you understand why I yell at him in the backyard. It's because he's a slurpy dumbass and it's for his own good so he doesn't get gross stuff stuck in his mouth which I then have to pull out.
Slurp slurp slurp. I get up and go over to him and pry open his mouth prepared to look inside and find some horrible remnant of disgusting yuckiness but I find nothing. His mouth has the all clear as far as I can see. So next thing I'm thinking is that he's eaten something poisonous and this slurping is his reaction. He's going to slurp himself to death, I'm utterly sure of it and now I'm feeling bad about calling him a dumbass though part of me, the evil lizard part, is thinking that at least if he did expire, I'd be able to get some more sleep.
I pry Rocky's mouth open again and I still don't see anything but then I get a whiff of something nasty and I figure whatever it was he ate can't be anything toxic because nothing toxic smells that bad. I'm back to my something is stuck in his mouth theory or maybe at the back of his throat and that's why I can't see it.
Elizabeth is already up so I ask her if she'll take Rocky downstairs and give him some treats to hopefully dislodge whatever it is that's bugging him. She takes him downstairs and I get back into bed still certain I can will myself back to sleep.
Five minutes later, I hear Rocky's footsteps back into the bedroom and he plops into his bed. Elizabeth walks by and I ask her if he's still slurping and she says, No, he's stopped and she goes back downstairs.
Aah. Sleep again finally.
You know that blissful feeling when you're just on edge of sleep and it's like you're falling slowly into a pool of pillows?
I sit up and whip off the covers and go over to Rocky. "What the hell is wrong with you?" I open up his mouth and look in. Nothing on the roof. Nothing at the back. Nothing in between the teeth. Nothing under the tongue. My hand, however, is completely covered in slimy drool by this point. "Rocky, why'd you have to eat whatever it was you ate? Why this morning of all mornings?"
Rocky looks at me, expressionless.
I'm flummoxed. I go wash my hands. I go back to Rocky.
He's stopped slurping.
"Holy shit, are you done?" I ask and he looks at me wondering what I'm going on about. He lays his head down. "Yeah, I think you're done. Thank God."
I walk over to my bed and get in and put my head down on my pillow and close my eyes. I open my eyes. I close my eyes. I open my eyes. I'm totally awake.
"Aargh!" I throw the covers off and slip on my slippers and put on my bathrobe and walk into the bathroom and turn the portable heater on and brush my teeth and splash water on my face. I change into my dog walking clothes.
I look over at Rocky. He's snoring.
Stella looks at me looking at Rocky for a moment then she tucks her nose under her paw and closes her eyes and goes back to sleep as well.