Posts Tagged ‘dogs’



Laura had a dream the other night that we owned a farm for orphans and puppies and the orphans and puppies would be delivered to us each day by the bus-full and we would give them all hugs and they’d understand that they were understood and then the orphans would play with the puppies, and the puppies would chase the orphans around the farm, hiding underneath hay bales and running across open fields. 

I asked her what happened after the puppies become full grown dogs and the orphans were ready for college.

She said she woke up before she got to that part.


I woke up from a dream recently upset because the fox in the dream was acting far more cat like than dog like and I got upset questioning the science of it all.


Sometimes, my dreams have the Ken Burns effect throughout. Those dreams are really boring. 

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When it rains at night, I wake up to my sister across from me in bed.  She is usually awake and staring and I tell her to go back to her room and sleep.  She tells me that it is too noisy in her room, can’t she just stay in mine?  It happens every time now, every time it rains.

“Where do you think mom is?” she wants to know.

“Out,” I say.

“It’s late, when is she coming home?”

“When you go back to sleep.”

“Shouldn’t she be home?”

My sister goes on like this until I’m up and now I’m up.  She asks me to teach her another card trick.   So far, I’ve taught her the Two Card Flight, the Burning Rush, the Cardeenie Single, and Flipping Aces.  I went through each one step by step and she’ll ask me to do it again and again and she’ll never learn them.  It’s the process, I guess.

Mattie comes into join us and I don’t like when he gets junk in his eyes and he doesn’t like it when I clean it out.  He buries his head in my sister’s lap and she pets his head and looks up at me.  “At least you can see me clearly now, can’t you?” I say and he looks away.

Sometimes on rainy days Mattie hides in my bed just before.

There’s a tree in the courtyard that my sister is afraid of when it’s windy because it scrapes against her window and she says it sounds like ghosts are knocking.  I ask her Why not vampires?  She shrugs.  She likes the tree though, when we are outside.  We used to hang my GI-Joes from the branches and she would throw them around the big ones so that they would be tied up.  She’d put her hands in her pockets and watch me climb the tree.  She’d say sorry and do it again.

I got the impression she always meant it though, the apology.

“Do you want to go to the tree house?” she asks me.

“In this weather?  I haven’t taught you the card trick yet.”

“Please?  We can look for mom getting home.” 

Dad’s old treehouse he built just before he was gone.  It sits out there and it is not quite finished and I don’t know if it is still safe.  But I say that we can go and my sister gets her rain boots on.  

We run outside the raindrops come down hard and hit my sister’s back.  I watch them bounce off between her shoulder blades, hunched over.  She runs and splashes me through each puddle and looks back and mouths Sorry to me and I just push her on to keep running.

We climb the ladder and I tell her Careful not to slip and Mattie is barking at the backdoor.  I wave for him to come over and he runs out with his tongue out, his hair flopping and then matted down, wet.  Under the tree, I grab him between his legs and my finger falls to the part on the side of him that hair doesn’t grow from when my sister hit him with a stick playing fetch.  She cried and it was Mattie who consoled her, bleeding.  I hold him in one arm and climb up.  

In the tree house, the rain is loud and it makes it difficult to talk.  Mattie wags over to my sister and they hug, both wet and now wetter.  The branches rub up against the walls and in big gusts, I’m afraid that they might break through.  My sister takes a peek out the door and into the storm and says, “I don’t see mom.”  Mattie puts his head on her lap.

I walk over to one of the walls to see if it’ll hold and I put my hand on it and it feels wet and shaky.  I try to push one of the screws in that came out a little near the roof.  I can’t quite get it.  I turn to ask my sister and she is asleep on Mattie, looking at me, the rain coming down harder now and the street light goes out.

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When the boy would have a nightmare, his father would wake just before his hand reached the doorknob.  The boy would leave his brother sleeping soundly in their shared room, make his way up the stairs, stepping in the spots of the floor he knew not to creak, except for one, which he would hit every time, an alarm of sorts.  He would arrive at the door and just as his arm would extend, he would hear a ruffling of the sheets, his father sitting up. 

He never knew where his father had learned this, whether it be a need to protect after his mother’s hearing loss, or perhaps something left over from his time at the monastery, that when in bed with a woman, sleep cautiously. 

Some people wake up swinging.  Not his father though, not in the middle of the night, at least not for him.  After he had reached the refuge of his parents’ bed, he would watch as both would fall quickly back to sleep.  Throughout the night, he would have the urge to nudge his father, not to wake him, but just to keep him sleeping lightly, in case the zombies congregating below ever figured out how to climb stairs. 

But his father never needed the nudge.  He knew he woke to his nightmares, or his brother sneaking his way into the kitchen, climbing the freezer shelves of the side-by-side to steal the ice cream sandwiches stored up top.

Later on, he knew his father woke to his brother skateboarding down the street, graffiti cans tucked into cargo pockets, or to his high school girlfriends’ desperate three a.m. phone calls.


He wondered why there was movement in the house.   He went to the kitchen to find his father suiting up for the cold weather, 3:30 a.m. glowing from the digital oven clock, and all the family dogs excitedly, but patiently waiting at his father’s feet, looking to him. 

His father asked if he’d like to join him.

Molly, the mother of the other two dogs, was found in a forest preserve, years before, during a camping trip of the boy’s uncle.  No one knows how long she survived on her own, but just that she did, and after his uncle gave her to his grandmother, she started gaining weight.  Healthy, his grandmother thought.  And then she gained more weight and more and in one particular area.  The black lab who grew up hunting prey was now a domesticated, bowl-fed, city dog, mother of 10 mutt babies, not one resembling a second. 

Back in the forest, she was in her element.  Her eyes quickly adjusted to the pitch black ahead of them.  The boy could scarcely see his own hand.  Molly’s daughters happily stayed heeling by the father’s side as Molly ruffled the bushes all around them.  At one point, the ruffling stopped, the night clearer as the boy’s pupils grew.  Molly fell quiet and all followed suit.  Quickly she dashed off the trail and into the forest, her daughters excitedly nipping at her side.  All three disappeared.

The father and the boy had been quiet.  The father broke the silence to tell his son to sit.  The father told his son of how he likes to come out at the night’s darkest hour, that at first, everything is clouded in blackness, and as he walks further into it, everything opens to clarity, slowly at first, and then more rapidly.  As they sat, what once was nothingness now became the texture of tree-bark, the dampness of morning leaves, the stillness of a frightened squirrel. 

As they assimilated themselves into the quiet around us, things started moving.  A chipmunk, at first, dashing through the boy’s eye line, eventually a possum lumbering his way through last year’s fallen foliage, and finally a deer, gracefully leaping yards away, undisturbed by their presence.  It was then that the father showed him that the darkness, the unknown, the chilling quiet that surrounds him, is the actuality of life, and that simply sitting brings him to appreciate the purity and resoluteness of each passing moment. 

“Find comfort in it,” he said.

The dogs came back.  Molly, defeated at her loss of prey, and her daughters gleefully jumping beside her, thinking that this new game, “the hunt,” was even more fun than the classic, “fetch.”  Molly had chased the rabbit, it is just that her daughters had instead chased her, leaping on and into her as she pursued the now escaped meal.  Though they enjoyed it, they didn’t have a complete understanding of the game.   They came to the father’s side to tell him about their adventure and if a dog is capable of a dirty look, Molly was giving it.

As dawn approached and the sky opened and night no longer sombered each step, they turned back down the path toward the cottage.  The crunching of the leaves seemed an unwelcome companion on this walk and so the boy imagined him and his father to be Indians, sneaking through the forest, forced to quiet as if not to alert their sleeping enemies.  They must step quietly, and as such, as if to not make a single noise, the boy stepped carefully 

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