One of the pleasures of a home with older dogs, aside from surprising four-figure veterinary surgery bills, is when they get you up at the oddest hours of the night.
Lulu, one of those designer mutt mash-ups popular these days, was always a piece of work. When she was younger, we considered her the most doggy of our three — fearless, curious, and able to bring back small game from forays into the bushier spots on our partially fenced lot.
Weasel, the black-tongued Lab mix, never even had it in him to chase as much as a seagull, and is scared of things one doesn’t usually think of as scary.
The pug that rounds out the group, Luna, is either the smartest dog in the world or the stupidest, barking ad nauseam at her water bowl, for example. Maybe she’s holding out for iced San Pellegrino. I can’t tell. At any rate, her yapping gets me to carry her to the upstairs couch, which may or may not be a sign of particular genius. Lisa says it’s because her father was also her uncle, but what happens in pug land stays in pug land. Plus, I’d rather not think about it.
Which reminds me. Growing up here, the city kids, hell, even people from Southampton, thought it was funny to accuse us locals of marrying our cousins, to which there was no good response. If we said, no, we do not, the city kids would snicker and say, “How do you know?” All right, so the pug business hits a certain nerve.
Anyway, Lulu, the one-eyed, shag-haired former killer, now actually needs a hand getting up and down the stairs. Especially in the dim light of 3 a.m., I can hear it coming. Her quiet chirp of a whine begins slowly, but it’s merely a warning. A bark sharp enough to wake the neighborhood is about to follow, but, oddly enough, not Lisa or the kids. I get out of bed, stumble to pick her up and carry her to the door. To keep her from barking to come back in, I lean on the open door and look at the stars when it is a clear night.
When she is done, I carry her back upstairs then try to get back to sleep, listening for sounds from outside. Then, suddenly, it is 5:30, and she is whining again. I curse, and put my feet back on the floor.