I was awakened this morning to the sound of a dog vomiting. This is never a good thing. Rising in a panic at 3:30 a.m. to rip dog covers off before the dog vomit soaks through to my bedding prompts a surge of adrenaline that’s hard to overcome. Though I am always optimistic about falling back asleep after the excitement abates, I know I am almost always screwed when I awaken to the sound of one of my dogs tossing her cookies. Normally, what happens is I am just drifting back off to sleep and am awakened again by Phase II, another round of vomiting punctuated by more dry heaving and slick, ropy tendrils of saliva that swing like vines from my dog’s jowls. It was Kip on this early summer morning, rejecting her duck necks from the preceding evening feeding. I think if she bothered to chew her food, vomiting might not be an option, but so far she is not heeding my advice, choosing to swallow them whole (I cut them up for her now) in an attempt to ensure that Rolo won’t get them. There’s no chance of that. Rolo is the pickiest dog I’ve ever known when it comes to eating. I have to mix cottage cheese and yogurt in with her kibble to entice her to eat even a little of it. Rolo picks daintily through her food. Raw feedings elicit no additional speed at dinner time–she is loath to bolt her food even when hungry. I’ve seen her walk away from her bowl, leaving a tiny, thumb-sized piece of raw chicken behind. Who does that? I’ve always had dogs that ate everything you put in front of them as quickly as possible, the words “hoark” and “bolt” coming to mind in describing that action. To have a dog pick through raw chicken and walk away from one last bite stumps me.
But make no mistake, Rolo is a hunter. She caught a tiny, baby bunny at a friend’s house in California this last trip and she has been a relentless hunter ever since. The tiny, precocious lagomorph was injured in the altercation and had to be humanely euthanized, it was very sad- a promising young life extinguished in the blink of an eye. So now, with the taste of that conquest fresh on her mind, Rolo will investigate bushes for hours following a whiff of something warm-blooded, and will lay in front of my lawn tractor for days, having scented one of The Bowl rabbits who sought shelter there in the night. We have a lot of rabbits here in The Bowl, they seem to do quite nicely here despite subfreezing winters, so there is plenty of game for Rolo to hunt. I have to resist the urge to place feeders out for the Bowl Rabbits in winter. Seeing them hopping about on 3 feet of snow in single digit temperatures while the wind blows snow in their little bunny faces is a hard scene to watch. They nibble half-heartedly at dead, dry plant stalks in an effort to nourish starving bodies and seeing this tugs at my heart strings. But I know what would happen if I started feeding them and I’ll not go there. This is nature and she isn’t to be mucked with, although the resident hawks and owls might not think being over run with Bowl Bunnies is such a bad thing. Still, it’s not my place to interfere, and most times I have to turn away from the suffering I see outside during the long, cold days of winter.
I feel that an occasional short night born from an early morning dog vomit is a small price to pay for the support and camaraderie of having dogs in one’s life. I believe kids are way more trouble, I couldn’t deal with an organism that seems happy to shit it’s pants for 2-3 years. That would be a long 3 years for me. Though my dogs may seem like little more than silent witnesses to my life, they add a dimension to it, which if it requires an explanation, won’t be understood anyway. So if you ever wonder if it’s lonely living alone with 2 dogs I can only offer that you are never alone while in the company of dogs.