by Larry Brody
I had almost zero sleep last night, thanks to the noise.
It started at about eleven o’clock. The sound of Decker the Giant-Hearted barking ferociously from the front porch.
A sound that drove Ditsy Dixie, who was sleeping at our feet, Emmy the Bold, who was sleeping on the floor in front of us, Belle the Wary, who was curled up on the couch downstairs, and Decker the Giant-Hearted, who was sprawled in front of Sir Elvis, our ancient suit of armor, insane.
All four dogs bolted to their feet, barking and howling so loudly that they sounded like a fleet of cement mixers grinding along our gravel road. The dogs jumped at the front door, eager to join their buddy—
In an impossible situation that I’m still trying to figure out.
Outside: Decker barking in a fury.
Inside: Emmy, Dixie, Belle, and Decker barking and clawing to get outside.
That’s right. All of us in the house heard Decker outside, all too loud and clear.
Including the very same Decker, who was inside as well.
I grabbed my headlamp from the nightstand and turned on its beam. Hurried downstairs. I pushed my way through the dogs, opened the door.
And four dogs joined a fifth, racing together from the porch around to the recently fenced-in back of the clearing.
“Gwen…?!” I called upstairs.
Gwen responded with a sleepy half-shout. “What…?”
“There’s two Deckers out here, honey,” I said.
“I don’t think so, honey,” said Gwen. Her voice was a little less sleepy. And more irritated.
I went outside and down the side steps—just in time to whirl like a falling leaf as the dogs came running back. Still barking, of course.
Four dogs, not five. Only one Decker.
“Sure sounded like you who started the ruckus, Deck,” I said.
In the headlamp’s light Decker’s eyes shone mischievously. “Ya think?” Decker said.
Over the past few weeks, Dixie has been working on a new trick no one’s wanted her to learn. She used this time to demonstrate it, jumping up on the front door, and pressing her paw down on the handle at the same time she pushed forward. The door swung open, and she slipped inside. The other dogs and I followed.
With a sigh, I went back upstairs, and just as I got into bed, there it was again.
Decker barking. From outside.
Down I went once again, finding out why it’s not such a good idea for a man my age to take the the steps two at a time. I looked over at the front door from where I was sprawled at the foot of the stairway.
Four dogs barked at the front porch.
From the front porch one dog barked at the night.
I pulled myself to my feet, grateful that my legs, knees, and hips still worked. Did the whole pushing through the dogs and going outside with them thing I’d done once already.
Then I ran after the pack as it scrambled into the backyard.
My headlamp picked out four large, semi-hysterical canine bodies.
A fifth one barked behind me.
I turned and saw Decker standing with his tongue lolling out.
“When did you become the Ghost Dog?” I said.
“Just now,” Decker said. “A special gift, I think. For tonight.”
“What’d you do to earn this gift?” I said.
“Maybe I sat for the right spirit at the right time. Or rolled over for the Wind of Mystery.” Decker said. “How should I know? I’m a dog.”
With a series of half-howling barks, he ran to join the others. For an instant I saw five forms in the darkness. Then the two Deckers blended into one.
I went back inside, leaving the dogs behind. I called up the stairs once more.
“I don’t want to hear it, honey,” came the very awake, very irritated response.
I sat down at my desk, waiting for the dogs to come back. I don’t know which is more marvelous. Decker being in two places at once, or Dixie being able to open the front door.
I wonder what other “rewards” Decker and the other dogs will earn.
And if Dixie can learn how to open the door from the inside as well. So she can let everyone out in addition to bringing them in and Gwen and I can get some sleep.
It certainly would fit into our life better than a doggy door.