An Indoor Day

I came home from work exhausted, hopped on a zoom call, and managed to throw something quick together to eat. As soon as my belly was full i was out. I didn’t even make it to the bathroom to brush my teeth. turning the lights off, checking the weather report, getting well water for the morning…none of that happened. I slept in my jeans. I figured i’d just lay down for a 40 minute nap and set my phone alarm accordingly. I woke up at 3 in the morning, the time i usually take my supplements and natural meds. Obviously, at some point, i had turned off the forty minute alarm and closed my eyes again. I zombied myself around the kitchen and stumbled back to bed.

The next time i awoke it wasn’t due to any alarm. It was the wind trying to tear down the house. I sat up with a start as i listened to the walls popping and creaking. Outside, the wind chimes were swept sideways and the trees were thrashing wildly about the yard. Another gust of wind hit the side of the house and i heard the dryer tube rattle in its opening in the wall. I crossed the room and peered through the curtains for a better view. Perhaps neglecting to tune into the weather radio and get the report before bed was a bad call on my part. There were no clouds in the sky so it couldn’t be a hurricane or a microburst. It was either a cold front or a warm front. It had been drizzly mid to high 30s type weather lately. In Texas, i didn’t think it could get much colder than that, so i had my money on a warm front. I thought i had better pull shoes on and open the door to the chicken coop before the hens broke the thing down, as i had slept through their 7:15 wake up call when i usually removed the door. To my amazement, their little window was still shut, protecting them from further exposure to the cold. I had figured the violent wind would have ripped it from its hinges. I guessed the direction of the wind was working in our favor to keep the window shut. I stumbled around in my pajamas, the wind pushing me and plastering the fabric to my skin, whipping my hair across my face. I made it to the chicken pen and wrenched the door open to find that they were indeed trying to bulldoze the door down. I lifted the door and slid it out of its track to reveal an explosion of feathers as 5 very angry chickens all tried to emerge from the doorway at once. They glared at me with their beady yellow eyes. I had missed their morning appointment and they were not impressed. There would have to be table scraps thrown in later to make up for it. I began to think about what i had in the refrigerator that i was willing to part with. I stumbled back to the house, watching the wind spread the chickens feathers this way and that. The chickens looked bewildered and ran back and forth in their pen. I quickly fed the dogs, made them up a bowl of filtered well water, and set it in the gated dog run, leaving the door open. I released them from the house and directed them into the dog run. I shut the gate. Both of them seemed bewildered as well. It was as if we were in the middle of a hurricane and they were wondering if i was going to leave them out there while i returned to the nice protective shelter of the house. I glanced at them, “Go potty first. I’ll come get you shortly.” Sili seemed to understand and went off into the underbrush to pick a spot to pee. Cashew stood with her head cocked as if to say, “How dare you?” I looked back at her, “it’s just a bit of wind. I thought you were the big bad ranch dog that didn’t need to take orders anymore because you’d become a pro deer chaser and that somehow meant you’d graduated out from under all authority figures because clearly you were running this **** and running it well.” My Aussie was indeed in need of an intense refresher course in training but my efforts to put her through one were doing more harm than good so i quit for now. Cashew had discovered that with an injured ligament in my ankle and a couple broken toes, i could jog but i couldn’t run. Being able to sprint is kind of a must if you’re going to catch an Aussie running at full speed. Knowing that it now took me a great amount of time and effort to even get close to her speed, she feared me not. If she did something i didn’t like she’d just refuse to come in. Very quickly this morphed from the occasional bad behavior to ignoring very clear and concise commands. It was as if she’d gone completely deaf. I knew she hadn’t. She could hear just fine when she was listening for sounds of wild animals. She just no longer respected my authority on the property. The more i tried to discipline her the more she realized she could outrun me. I ceased my efforts quickly in an attempt to minimize the damage done. I would need to wait until my foot had healed and then retrain her that i could indeed catch her, my word was law around these parts, and she would get a swift pop on the butt and be held in a submissive position on the ground whenever defying a direct order from me. Now i know there are some who believe a dog should never be spanked but it is in my opinion a much kinder alternative to the remote controlled shock collar i had to use briefly in the beginning to get her to stop digging under the fence. Though i know i could put that on her easily right now and push the button each time she says “i don’t have to listen to you. I’m going off to track wild animals. See you at dinner. Bye.” I’d rather wait until i can snag my hand in her collar and pull her back to me when she goes to take off because Cashew is a very headstrong dog. She doesn’t even blink unless its turned up to level 7 and only level 8 actually turns her around. I’ve tried the thing on myself and i know exactly what level 8 feels like. Level 8 produces an audible yelp and though it is effective, i don’t like using it because i realize it’s not using the respect of an authority figure to change behavior…its using the desire to avoid pain. I would much rather gain her respect and obedience through behavior than through fear of pain, so, retraining was pushed back a few months and i realized that i simply had to clear the yard of critters before letting her out and lead her in the direction i wanted her to go by the collar for the time being.

It had indeed been drizzly and in the thirties and forties for several days. The dogs, especially Cashew with her long leg fur, had become very muddy. When she appeared at the gate i did a once over and realized she had turned from a mostly black to a brown dog. I briefly considered the idea of wiping her down with towels and then let it go. We lived in a remodeled shed with faux wood floors. We also lived near a quarry and had an a/c filter that was plastic with little square holes…it caught bugs, not dust. The effort that would be spent cleaning her for entry into our already dusty abode was not practical. I let the dogs in. They quickly covered the floor in muddy paw prints which i knew would dry and become dust later. The floor did end up covered in dirt and i figured i’d sweep it out onto the porch once all the nasty weather was over. During the rainy weather the floor had been covered in messy paw prints and the scent of wet sweaty dog hung in the air, especially when i turned the space heater on to combat the 36 degree weather outside. Then they were wet sweaty muddy warm dogs.

Once the dogs had been let out to potty i made breakfast and listened to the weather report on the radio. It was indeed a warm front. It would be warm for the day and then drop back down into the thirties by nightfall. The front would arrive and leave before midnight. it didn’t seem fair. If it was going to blow through, it might as well stay a while, i thought. I finished breakfast and retrieved the dogs. They were ready to come inside. They were standing at the gate, the cedar trees around them thrashing wildly about, Cashew’s long fur whipping around her legs and stomach. As soon as i unlatched the gate they both ran for the house. I let them in and returned to my rocking chair to eat the breakfast i had prepared. Both dogs immediately parked themselves in front of the heater, laying back to back in front of it. Outside the wind chimes banged together furiously, the walls creaked and groaned with each big gust of wind, the dryer tube rattled in the wall, and i could hear the leaves of the trees rustling together as the branches were whipped this way and that. I sat in my rocking chair eating breakfast and the dogs laid motionless and peaceful, spread out in front of the heater. I decided it would be an indoor day. I made one trip back outside to throw the chickens some remnants of a spaghetti squash clinging to the outer shell and a banana peel with quite a bit of pulp and string still stuck to it. Other than that, the dogs and i spent the day inside hiding from the wind in front of the heater. I watched the wind rustle the curtains with each big gust and noted that at some point in the future i would have to seal those better for electric bill purposes.

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