When one of the pack members disappears for a while, the dogs find it discombobulating. They like routine, they like order, and they especially like to know where their humans are at all times.
In early March, my husband, Doug, left for his annual week of ice fishing. The fact that this year’s trip took place in Florida (and substituted Gulf fishing and a Twins game for an icehouse in Canada) did not make me bitter. Well, not very bitter.
I had company the first few days he was gone — friends from Duluth who dropped off their chocolate Labs and then went skiing. Again, not bitter. But definitely outnumbered.
Here’s how the week went:
Friday, 7 p.m. Home after a slow commute, thanks to thick, steady snow that left cars in ditches all over the place. Let the dogs out using the new Angus-training method (more on that in a later column) — that is, make them sit and wait quietly at the door instead of climbing over me and each other to both try to get outside first.
Let them in. Feed them. Let them out.
Shovel snow. Shovel snow. Shovel snow.
7:30 p.m. Friends arrive! With dogs! Angus and the younger Lab, Blue, have a joyous reunion and dash out into the snowstorm to play. Rosie follows, gets in a snit — perhaps because she is not the center of attention — and snarls at Blue. I put her in the house.
8:30 p.m. Let the dogs in. They are soaking wet and happy. Rosie snarls at Blue again and gets put in her crate.
Saturday 3 a.m. Three of the four dogs decide it’s morning. The fourth dog, ancient and deaf, is now the only one in the house still asleep.
Saturday and Sunday: Shovel snow at 5:30 a.m. in pajamas and mittens so friends can get out of alley. Let dogs out. Let dogs in. Feed dogs. Let dogs out. Rosie rushes Blue. Rosie banished to crate. Angus and Blue play in snow. Repeat, repeat, repeat. In between, shovel more snow.
Doug texts picture of ocean.
Sunday night: Friends gone, Labs gone, Doug still gone. Angus and Rosie sit side by side in front of my chair and stare at me. “Where have you hidden his body?” their eyes ask, and I know they are looking for Doug, who normally gives them chewies at this time of night. I ignore them (part of the new training — the dogs do not decide when they get chewies; I do), but after being stalked from room to room, I flee to bed.
Monday 3 a.m. Dogs decide it’s morning. Not morning.
Monday 5:30 a.m.: Now it’s morning. It’s also eleven degrees below zero. Let dogs out, in, feed, out, in. Walk Rosie but only three blocks before she starts picking up her feet as though they are freezing, which they probably are. Home. Switch dogs. Walk Angus according to the new training method. This involves not moving unless he’s paying attention to me and not pulling on the leash. We don’t get very far. I fear we will die out here, standing in the cold.
Monday afternoon: Doug texts picture of beach.
Monday night: Let dogs out, let them in, feed them. Walk Angus. Walk Rosie. Get stared at. “Where have you hidden his body?” etc., etc. Go to bed early, after a rousing game of tug.
Tuesday 4:32 a.m.: Thump! Thump! Both dogs leap onto the bed. I show them the clock. It is not yet morning.
5:30 a.m. Now it’s morning. Let dogs out. Let dogs in. Feed dogs. Let dogs out. Walk Angus. Walk Rosie. I know I said that dogs love routine, but sheesh what about me?
Tuesday afternoon: Doug texts picture of sunny ballpark.
Tuesday night: Repeat of Monday night.
Wednesday: Repeat of Tuesday, although this morning the wake-up thumps start at 4:50 a.m.
Wednesday evening: Doug texts picture of alligator.
Thursday 5:47 a.m. Crap! I overslept! Dogs are useless as alarm clocks.
Thursday evening: Doug is home. All is well.
The following week: I plot my revenge. On Wednesday, I leave for four days in New York City. Alone.
Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune. She is chronicling the life of her rescue pup, Angus, regularly on this page. 612-673-7302. @StribBooks.
Read all of the Angus stories at startribune.com/puppy.