LB: Live! From Paradise #211 “The Cloud Creek Gang”

(The intro to this column in a recently successful incarnation here on the web)

by Larry Brody

I love when I learn something.

Especially when it’s completely unexpected.

Today’s case in point comes courtesy of the group of creatures Gwen the Beautiful and I have begun calling “The Cloud Creek Gang.”

Huck the Spotless Appaloosa.

(Let’s hear it for Emmy the Bold!)

Rosie the Romantic Arabian.

Emmy the Bold.

Decker the Giant Hearted.

Belle the Wary.

And Ditsy Dixie, the young yellow Lab who gives not one hint of being anywhere near growing up.

What is it they’ve been ganging up together to do?

Ah, that’s what I’ve just learned.

Thanks to a nifty little gift given to me by Youngest Daughter Amber’s Boyfriend. A strap-on headlight I can wear to see into nooks and crannies in the house and across our property while keeping my hands free.

Yep, I look like an idiot wearing it. Absolutely. But without my headlight I never would’ve known what the Gang was up to when the dogs barked and growled and yowled in the night.

Without it, I would’ve (and did) believe I was saving the dogs from the horses, and the horses from the dogs, when, at two or three in the A.M., their frenzied noise forced me to wake up and stumble downstairs and outside.

There I would see shadowy dog forms leaping at equally shadowy horses whose heads were pushed over the fence separating the backyard from the corral. Worried about the safety of all the creatures involved (and eager to get back to sleep, glorious sleep!), I would call the dogs and they’d come running inside.

Decker and Belle would curl up on the floor of the great room, while Emmy and Dixie bounded upstairs to hog as much space as they could on our not-so-big bed. Secure in the knowledge that I’d prevented at least one if not several veterinary emergencies, I’d get back under the blankets with Gwen and snore away—

Until a couple of hours later, when the dogs would sound off again as though the most life-threatening critters anywhere had appeared on the porch and, with more than a little encouragement from my worried wife, I’d rush down and let them outside again.

It was no easy gig, the Doggy Doorman thing.

Until a couple of nights ago, when I discovered what really was going on. I woke up before the barking started and, driven by my unending curiosity, I strapped on my new headlight and slipped outside to see Huck moseying across the corral to the fence with Rosie right behind.

I’d always thought the horses and dogs spoke separate languages, but in the new illumination, I watched as Huck looked over at Emmy and called out with a whinny. “Emmy? You ready?”

“Absolutely,” Emmy barked.

Huck turned to Rosie. “Ready,” she said.

Emmy whined at the other dogs. “Ready,” they too said.

Ms. The Bold turned back to Huck. “Go for it, my friend.”

Huck made a sound like a laugh, and there went his head, over the fence and then down toward the grass. Immediately, Emmy pounced at him. But Huck was faster than she was. She got nothing but air as he jerked his head up.

Huck nickered, like another laugh. “Missed!”

“Try again, big guy,” said Emmy, and she backed away just a bit to give him room, even as the other dogs moved in closer.

Huck did his head-over-the-fence thing again, and beside him Rosie did the same. Emmy and the other dogs sprang at them—

And the usual wild cacophony ensued, animal voices punctuated by hoofbeats as the horses pounded the turf and bucked and reared, keeping the dogs at bay. Only Dixie came close to either of their faces, by springing up and down like Tigger in the old Disney Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons.

“Stop!” I roared. And, to the dogs: “Get over here! Now!”

Three dogs rushed to me. Only Emmy held back, and that was for just a few seconds, a time so short I wouldn’t have noticed it if not for the headlight. A few seconds in which she turned back to Huck and winked. “Thanks, Hucky,” she said.

“See you in a few,” was Huck’s reply.

But he didn’t see them till after sunrise. Because when the dogs made their “We’ve got to get out of here! Now!” move, neither Gwen nor I responded.

Because now we knew the truth. Danger? Ha!

Nothing was going on out there but the four-legged Cloud Creek Gang having fun.