I’ve always been a night owl. It was easier to keep vampire hours when I was generally grumpy. They used to broadcast talk shows in the deepest thick of darkness, and there was a radio presenter I liked who went until three in the morning, daily. This was how I spent my teenage nights, listening out for my mother, but ensuring I wouldn’t be up before noon.
I don’t actively avoid mornings anymore. This feels like an exercise in self-improvement. I’ll be up, perhaps not full of the joys of Spring, but I’ll be up.
One Saturday morning, a woman appeared at my front door before I was awake. I rarely rise before nine o’clock on a Saturday, but I remember incorporating the sound of the doorbell into a dream.
It was a pretty dull dream as I recall.
Aimée answered the door, and there stood a perfumed and laundered lady, entirely manicured with deliberate earrings, whom we’ve known as a nodding-acquaintance for some time.
By her side, stood her large, impressive husky-style snow dog, in all its haltered glory.
On a side note, her dog enjoys batting my jack russell on the head. This hasn’t made him any smarter.
Just behind them was another dog. An unknown dog. A male Parsons Jack Russell, taller than mine and noticeably intact. With the spuds.
Aimée moved her gaze from the dog to the lady, the sleep still clearing from her eyes.
Undaunted, the lady asked if the unknown dog was ours. I don’t think it occurred to her that there were other Jack Russells. Ours was barking his backside off at the far end of the house. Aimée indicated as much with tired gestures and mumbled explanations.
“No,” she started, dreamily, “the noisy one is ours.”
“Well, whoever this animal belongs to, he’s upsetting my dog, and I can’t keep him,” the lady explained.
“I’m sorry? What would you like me to do?” Aimée asked.
A thought was born and twinkled in the woman’s eyes. “You have him,” and she stepped aside and let the dog sniff Aimée.
I’ll point out that I know sleep interruption is a terrible and potentially dangerous thing.
However, kind and thoughtlessly, she looped a finger underneath the unknown dog’s collar, and watched the woman walk away, in some haste.
Pumpkin, our littlest miniature dachshund had only been with us for about six weeks. She was rather nervous of noises and any kind of change, so she wasn’t entirely thrilled about this unknown dog.
Poppy doesn’t care for anything that isn’t focussed on herself, so she wasn’t happy at all.
Doobie despises other males, particularly intact males, so he was losing his mind, barking and spitting at the baby gate.
Tara didn’t know where to put herself. I think she would have enjoyed the other dogs going crazy, if only because of their countless daily assaults on her (jumping into her face, basic pee-intrusion, noses thrust into her ears, desperate attempts at play); she had no time to gloat.
The male, way out of his league, was a little too interested in her.
I had made it out of bed by this point, not hungover (this is not an achievement, but worth noting, I think) and I couldn’t work out why Aimée had just accepted this other dog.
Of course, she really wasn’t given an option. Continuing in that vein, I sent her out with the strange dog on a spare lead, to scour the area for an owner.
I went internet-bound, looking for posts about lost dogs in the locale.
Aimée returned with the unknown dog after about forty-five minutes of hoofing it around the woods.
It was my turn, she told me.
I had little interest in walking the woods in hopes of resolution.
Instead, I sat in the bathroom with the unknown dog, who sat on my foot, while Aimée called the dog warden.
About an hour went by. Frankly, I got quite attached to this happy, waggy, foot-pinning dog. And then the warden arrived. They checked the dog all over with a scanner and found his identity chip, popped him in the back of their van and took him to his owner.
This was an unexpected and odd occurrence for a Saturday morning, when not a lot was happening and nothing at all was planned.
Monday morning rolled around in all its thinly misted mischief, and the lady returned to the front door.
She wanted to know how we were getting along with the dog. Aimée explained that, since we already have four dogs, some of whom have their own psychological problems and therapy sessions, we couldn’t keep the dog she had brought us.
She looked confused.
Aimée explained about the long walk, the scouring of the internet and the eventual call to the dog warden.
The lady was astonished. “Do we have a dog warden in this area?”
“Oh yes,” replied Aimée. “If you go to the District Council’s website, they have loads of useful phone numbers on there.”
I nearly died.
The lady is a local councillor.