The stupid dog goes to the door around 5:30 a.m., maybe earlier. Dogs can’t tell time. Every night when I come up to bed, Deb reminds me, “Did you let The Beast out?” If I haven’t, I do, even though I know it’s probably pointless because, at 11 o’clock, the dog doesn’t need out. The dog needs out at 5:30 a.m., maybe earlier. Stupid dog.
She scratches at the door, or sometimes she’ll stand in front of it and make a sound like a congested umpire calling a strike: “Rmmph!”
Deb or I will roll out of bed. I’m a little deaf, so sometimes I don’t hear her (the stupid dog), which makes getting up that much more aggravating for my wife. But I honestly do try to intervene when I hear the dog and am in no way only pretending to be asleep, I swear.
Sometimes we’ll whisper-shout from the top of the stairs: “Bella! No! Go lie down!” But the stupid dog is not to be deterred. Scratch. “Rmmph!” Scratch.
I slide on my slippers, go downstairs, open the front door and grab the leash that’s lying there. But first I have to grip the cold metal clasp in my hand to thaw the mechanism so I can attach it to the collar. The cold air swirls through the open door and up my pant legs. “Rmmph!” I grumble.
The dog pads down the steps as I close the door. I find a nearby blanket and curl up on the couch while the stupid dog does her stupid business.
And that’s when the stupid dog starts barking.
“Wurf!” Pause. “Wurf!” Pause. “Wurf-wurf!” Long pause. I start to drift off… “WURF!!!”
There were a couple of nights in the early winter when the barking stopped. But then it stopped for too long. I woke up half an hour later. I went to the door and spotted the leash, but no dog. This had already happened a few times during the day, because there is something wrong with the clasp (and not because of how I hooked it, Deb!).
When Bella’s loose, she bolts. At 5:30 a.m., maybe earlier, it’s not the best way to meet your neighbours, wandering around their back yards as their motion-detector lights snap on. Still, better than when I first met our new neighbours after I drove over their cat. (The cat was fine; neighbour relations not so much.)
But most nights, it’s “Wurf!… WURF!” Again, not a neighbourhood pleaser.
As I lie there on the couch, I wonder, what is she trying to express? What is her message to the night?
“I am Bella, spawn of Candy! I did not choose my name, but I shall choose my voice! Even though I have nothing to say, I will keep saying it! I am the comments section made flesh!”
“Cold! It’s cold! COLD! I have no clothes on. COLD!!!”
“I eat garbage! I like it! Bring me garbages! All of the garbages! To ME!”
“I can’t stop retweeting! If I stop retweeting, Trump wins!”
“My owner wrote a novel! A novel! Why haven’t you bought it yet? It’s really good! Everybody! Did you write a novel? No! My owner did! A whole novel! He also ran over a cat. I’m a good dog!”
“Those alarm system signs on people’s lawns? They’re fake! Fake I tell you! Haha! Haha! I’m barking. Now that’s an alarm!”
“Anyone who thought Justin Trudeau was actually going to keep his electoral reform promise is a fool. A fool I tell you!”
“Trump! Trump! Trump Trump! TRUMP!!!”
“In the darkness lies a hollow of the sickness of the mind
Where the brambles of delusion shade the sense you cannot find…”
But then one night I got off the couch and went to the door to see what exactly she was barking at. By the streetlight, I could see the dog pace the lawn, then bark, then sniff and pace, then bark. Then she did her circle, bark, circle, bark bark, squat, bark, pace, circle, bark, squat, bark, bark, and finally down to business. That’s when I realized what she was saying:
“HEY! I’M POOPING! NOBODY LOOK, ‘CUZ I’M POOPING! POOPING AT 5:30 A.M., MAYBE EARLIER! I CAN’T TELL TIME! BECAUSE I’M A DOG! AND I’M POOPING! DON’T EVEN THINK OF PEEKING! HEY!”