Things That Go Barf in the Night

The New York City fireworks over the East Vill...
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He’s a big dog, a not too distant relative of the wolf–not exactly a sissy vegetarian among animals–so why NOT give him a couple of small, soft ham shoulder joint bones as part of his dinner, she said. And he woofed them down in a few crunches, and all was well.

He’d come to stand beside the bed earlier, several times, which he will do if there is thunder or any kind of machine beeping inside. Hearing neither, I shrugged off his visits and went peacefully back to sleep.

At quarter til two, she announced “He’s throwing up that hambone” as she gouged me in the ribs with her elbow, and then continued to offer her “encouragement” to rush the retching dog to the back door in the dark. Dutifully, and without collar or leash, I turned the dog out into the side yard for a quick emetic event.

His nose went up instantly. He feinted north, then rushed south, down around the front of the house headed east out into the night. Had to have been the scent of another dog. Ann had heard him run past the bedroom window even while I was on my way back to bed, realizing, reasonably I thought, that there was no way on earth to find him, and I would have to listen for him back on the porch when he decided to come home.

But no. She hath the gift of exhortation. Lacking any notion of the direction he had gone, my emphatic directive was to find him. Yes ma’am sir.

At 2:00 AM I stood hopelessly in the road with the spotlight, seeing numerous pair of deer eyes and what was probably a raccoon. But no dog.

Ten minutes later, out of the pitch blackness comes a pair of dog eyes from exactly the opposite direction he had been heading when he passed under our bedroom window.  I had left the back door open, and by the time I got inside, he was lying peacefully beside the bed as if nothing happened.

I did not go back to sleep in any restorative fashion. I think now, feeling a bit queasy, that I must be running a low grade fever to account for the most delusional dreams I’ve ever had–the nightmare equivalent of the 4th of July fireworks grand finale. Maybe it was something I ate.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I feel guilty for being amused by this story. Was the wife wearing her “She who must be obeyed” t-shirt? That’s a gift idea if she doesn’t have one yet.

    The dog is equally amusing. Surely you imagined the whole thing, or at least the dog was trying to sell that idea.

    I’m a moon phase dreamer. Must be some brain fluid tidal effect.

    It seems like it will be another good day for an afternoon nap. Take one if you feel like it.

  2. In all humility, I take credit for being among the world’s champion nappers. Give me a 15 minute block of designated time. Say GO! and I’ll sleep for 14. No brag, just the raw truth. I’m good.

    I just had my fetal-position napping love seat reupholstered, while SWMBO legislated for taking it to the “transfer station.” Over my napping body!

  3. That’s an impressive skill but the ‘give me’ portion sounds too much like asking permission. I’m more of a free spirit napper, no time limits and no second opinions.

    At least you reached a compromise regarding your favorite perch. It’s not too late to commission a unitard to fit you, in matching fabric, with a complimentary ski mask to complete your invisible man outfit.

    I see a hint of sunlight today. Get out there and fluff the chickens with your battery powered blow dryer. Watch your step.

  4. This sounds like the sort of thing Spencer (our madcap young German Shorthair) does from time to time – the last time it happened, he had helped himself to a smoked pork hock on the kitchen counter after dinner. He did, however, ignore the sauerkraut.

  5. Hum…yum…smoked pork and sauerkraut. Yep, I could go for that, Cate, of course, with sauerkraut included. Hey, at least it was after dinner, things could have been worse! Oh, and Fred, at least he didn’t come back inside after having been freshly annointed by your resident skunk!