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Something missing (10/29/2008)
By Frances Edstrom

It doesnít take much to upset my routine. But as a creature of habit I am nothing compared to my dog ó the indoor dog. John and the outdoor dog have been gone the last couple of days on a quest for the elusive and delicious pheasant. That leaves me and the dog home alone, with the exception of frequent visits (fixes?) from granddaughter and her mom and dad.

He is a very lazy dog, and doesnít bother getting up in the morning unless both John and I come down to the kitchen together. The second one down is graced with the dogís presence and the duty of letting him out. No use getting up twice. So, when I leave in the morning, the dog is snoring peacefully and doesnít stir a whisker. By noon, or usually later, when I return for lunch, he is standing impatiently at the top of the stairs.

When I let him out, he follows his usual habit of running immediately over to the outdoor dogís pen, maybe to lord it over him, maybe just to say hello. But the outdoor dog isnít there, so he screeches to a halt and stares at the pen, as though waiting for the rest of the magic trick. Youíd think he would have gotten the idea the first time, but no.

At lunch, John is in the habit of giving ďtreats.Ē I donít, so the dog circles the kitchen as though thinking, ďThereís something I came here for, now what was it?Ē

After work, I will usually pick up the paper, a book or the crossword puzzle and sit down for a while. This I do while petting the dog on the head. After dinner, we sit in the family room, the dog sits with his back to John and John pets him on his back and haunches. But, John isnít here. The dog is lost. What to do? He decides to go with the familiar, and sits down with his back to Johnís chair ó for longer than I would have thought.

Then when itís time for bed, he follows me upstairs, perhaps thinking John, who stays up later, will be up there reading and waiting to pet him. Hmm. No John, so down the dog goes again.

I crawl into bed, and automatically grab the covers on my side and tuck them tightly underneath my leg, ready to offer resistance when John pulls them over to his side. Oh, right, John isnít there. Thatís when I remember that I left the lights on downstairs and didnít check the locks. Thatís Johnís job. Out of bed, down the stairs, confuse the dog, up the stairs, lights out.

Canít sleep. Not enough noise. Then I hear something in the hall. Crazy killer? No, just the dog jangling his tags. I bet John would like to know how important he is, at least to one woman and one dog.



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