Creature comforts: Letter to my neighbors — I’m sorry

Dear Neighbors,

If any of you happened to be looking out your windows to see what all the commotion was about this past Sunday morning sometime around 8 a.m., you may have witnessed a spectacle, and I feel it is mostly my fault. You see, while I had been up at the crack of dawn to let the dogs out and feed the animals, I was very sleepy (it was 5:30 a.m.) and so after completing my morning animal walking, feeding and medicating chores, I decided to try to go back to bed for a little while. I know now this was selfish of me. What was I thinking?

Ordinarily, no matter how drowsy I am when I flop back into bed after being awakened too early, sleep simply won’t come. It’s incredibly annoying to be lying in bed, cozy and comfortable with three or four contented, warm, snoozing dogs tucked all around me, and be unable to go back to sleep. Lying there, completely awake, listening to the dogs’ soft breathing, I wonder why I don’t just get up, and yet I stubbornly persist in my efforts to get even five sweet minutes of blessed sleep. Almost inevitably, if I do happen to fall back asleep, it is just minutes before I must get up, and then I start my day disoriented and somnolent. Most unsatisfying.

On the Sunday in question, however, I returned back to bed and slept like the dead. It was fabulous! It was shaping up to be a pretty nice Sunday, until I came downstairs just in time to see (and hear) my husband slamming the door to the backyard and spouting a stream of obscenities with a heat that could peel the paint from the hull of a battleship.

My husband and I have known each other for 30 years, and thanks to his constant teachings, I have become almost fluent in “Angry Italian Man Cussing.” That said, when he is particularly vexed by something, even someone with my skillset at interpreting this fascinating dialect can be challenged to comprehend. I have learned to wait for the dust to settle, and for him to calm down a bit before I try to piece together what triggered such an extreme diatribe.

Turns out, that while I was blessed with a couple of hours of much-needed dreamless sleep, he started his day stepping into a puddle of urine in our dining room. He let the dogs out, cleaned up the mess, and then, when he tried to let the dogs back inside, Walter was not amongst the rest of the pack, nor in his usual place, at the bottom of the deck steps, demanding assistance and a rawhide chewie treat. Walter was barking — urgently, as if to say “Hey! Let me in!” But, my husband could not find him. Trying to be respectful of our neighbors and attempting to keep the barking to a minimum, he ended up walking all around the yard, looking for Walter. He could hear him, but couldn’t find him for some time, until he realized that somehow our old, arthritic, stiff-legged Walter had waddled across the yard and deep into the arborvitae, and then refused to budge — insisting on someone coming to rescue him. He was perfectly camouflaged, with his black and tan body blending seamlessly with the dark shadows and piney boughs, making echolocation the only means available for Walter’s retrieval.

Reaching blindly into the wild, craggy, clinging branches and nearly falling over trying to extract Walter from his very inconvenient hiding spot, my husband was in a serious state of distress by the time he finally succeeded in bringing Walter inside, both of them covered in sticky, sappy arborvitae leaves. But as he was angrily striding into the house and stomping into the kitchen, berating Walter and making idle threats about not coming to his aid if it happened again (yeah, right), he realized he’d stepped in a pile of dog poo, and had subsequently tracked it all over the floor. Stomped it into the hardwood reeeel good. Everywhere. (I am picturing Yosemite Sam, at this stage, with steam escaping from each of his ears.)

So, if you were curious as to why there was a very angry, seemingly mentally deranged man doing what appeared to be a very bad moon walk across our back yard last Sunday morning, I hope this comes as a reasonable explanation. It was my husband furiously attempting to wipe poo from his slippers, after having been through kind of a lot in the first 30 minutes of his day. What I cannot explain is why he was not wearing pants. For this, you will have to ask him. Captain Underpants — my hero.

Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at life@sungazette.com.


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