When my dog Peri first got me, she woke me before dawn to take care of all her important stuff—walking Peri, feeding Peri, playing with Peri, walking Peri again, giving Peri her treats, and oh yeah…dropping my daughter at high school and heading into work. Peri was fine with that schedule and doesn’t see any reason for it to change just because said daughter is now a college graduate and I’m retired.
Every morning about half an hour before dawn—she’s never differentiated between weekdays and weekends, and sees no reason to start doing so now—the dance begins. It starts slowly, a formal gavotte with maybe a little brush against the side of the bed, followed by a cold wet nose pressed against some innocently somnolent bit of me that isn’t expecting up-close and personal dog snout contact.
If that doesn’t result in me leaping to my feet with a scream, Peri switches to waltz tempo, and IT starts. The clicking. Somehow Peri figured out a way to pound her toenails on the wood floors as she moves. CLICK, Click, click, CLICK, click, click. The beat echoes in the quiet room, as comforting as nails scraping down a floor-sized blackboard. The Hub pretends to be completely sound asleep. I pull my pillow over my head.
Peri moves up her game, her pounding paws sounding a tango. CLICK, CLICK, clickety, clickety, clickety, click. Still, the Hub and I continue our little game of chicken, each faking sleep so the other one will have to get up with the dog. The first one up has to take Peri outside, no matter what the weather gets up to. (This is Scotland, after all.)
Peri is an old lady dog and she wants her walk NOW. As an old lady myself, I totally get that because there’s something I need to do as soon as I get up too. But experience has taught us how sorry we will all be if we delay Peri’s morning walk as she moves into full-on flamenco. CLICKETY-CLICK-WHAT-PART-OF-THIS-ARE-YOU-NOT-GETTING-CLICK!!!! Peri’s toenails sound like castanets from hell, tiny floor-based machine guns firing into my skull.
Desperately the Hub emits fake snores. Eventually, I give in, as we all know I will. Even though it’s barely 5AM, I drag coats over my pyjamas (which bear a striking resemblance to the clothes I wore yesterday. Maybe the day before too. Don’t judge me. It’s lockdown, and I’m a writer…)
We make it back in, Peri eats breakfast, and—exhausted by the effort of finally driving me out of bed, she finds her nearest bed and goes back to sleep, perhaps to dream of a world where your servants know their jobs and just get on with it…
This whole work-from-home thing is exhausting. Peri needs to rest up because tomorrow she’ll just have to do the whole thing over again.
Since I have every intention of following her back to dreamland, I’ve asked Peri’s friend Danny the Dog to take over as guest columnist with a repeat of his blog post from five years back. Since only my mother was reading my blog back then, I figure most of you missed that one. Good night.
Danny and the Three Monsters
Hello dog fans, it is I, Danny the Dog! I haven’t been writing much lately because I’ve been helping my human, whose name is Andrew, look after three Labrador retrievers. What a nightmare! There is Chloe, who is fourteen months old, and then there is Beau and Hank. They are both four months old and they are holy terrors. They live on a boat down at the end of the dock. Their human was going out of town and he asked my human to look after them and Andrew, being the idiot that he is, said yes.
First of all, I want to say to Jeff, the human that lives with the three monsters, don’t ever leave them in Andrew’s care again. I wouldn’t trust him to look after a taco, much less three dogs.
The trouble started right away. Jeff had two crates (humans call them crates; I call them cages) for Beau and Hank because, as I’ve said, they are holy terrors. Andrew went over to take them for their first walk after Jeff left, and of course, he has to take me along to help out. Anyway, Andrew gets them out of the crates and is getting them off the boat when clumsy Hank falls into the water.
Let me paint the picture for you. It was nighttime. It was dark. The water was dark and Hank is black. Andrew and I could see nothing of Hank. We could only hear him splashing around. The dock is about five feet above the water so Andrew couldn’t get him out by standing on the dock. Being the genius that he is (just kidding), Andrew got on the swim platform, which—for you landlubbers—is attached to the back of a boat and is only a foot above the water.
Now this is where Andrew’s “genius” comes into play. He took off his glasses and placed them on the transom so they wouldn’t slip off while he was bending over to pull Hank out of the water. He called to Hank. Hank swam over and Andrew got him onto the boat. Then Andrew went to get his glasses and they were not there or anywhere else on the boat. It looked as though Beau knocked them into the water because he had his paws up in that general vicinity while he was watching Andrew rescue his brother (they’re twins). All this in the first five minutes of Andrew looking after the monsters. And it only got better, and by better, I mean worse. I had a ball watching Andrew trying to cope for four days.
On to the next disaster, but first a side note. For some reason Beau is enthralled with me. The damn dog wouldn’t leave me alone. He put his snoot in my face, ran around me, bounced around me; he was a royal pain in my rear end. Finally, I had to growl at him and give him a little nip on his snoot to get some peace.
Now back to Andrew’s genius. We got the dogs back on the boat without further mishaps. Andrew fed them and all was well. But then Andrew decided not to put Hank and Beau in their crates. He felt sorry for them being cooped up like that. Big mistake!
The next morning when we went to get them, there was poop everywhere. The whole floor was covered in it. The babies had gotten into the dog food bag, ripped it open and ate it all. Then they pooped everywhere and walked in it. They got it on the couch, on the sliding glass doors, on everything. I think even on the ceiling. Needless to say, after spending two hours cleaning it all up, Andrew changed his mind about the crates.
Last night we were hanging out. Andrew was staring into space because he did not have his glasses and could not read a book or see the computer screen. I was on the computer starting this story when Chloe came onto our boat. She’s always coming here and stealing my water bowl! To date, she has taken five. But she should have been locked up on her own boat! Andrew got up, looked out, saw Jeff, and said, “Thank God! Thank God!” I barked the same thing. Our days of taking care of the monsters were over. Thank God!
P.S. This morning Jeff came over with Andrew’s glasses. Beau had taken them and hidden them in his stash place. And by the way, I have my own Facebook page and it’s a lot cooler than Andrew’s. Here’s a link: http://geni.us/dannythedog
Danny the Dog is a prolific writer. He’s written articles for bloggers around the world and has his own very popular blog where he dispenses his wisdom on a monthly basis. He’s humorous, clever, charming, delightful, and sometimes irascible. Or, as he would phrase it, “I’m a purveyor of wit, wisdom, and words.”
In My Name Is Danny, Danny writes about his real-life adventures living on a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his human, Andrew. He tells of their trials and tribulations … and the love they have for one another.
Fans of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz will enjoy this book.
My review: 4 out of 5 stars for My Name Is Danny: Tales From Danny the Dog
This is the book we all need right now. In a world that’s stopped, facing lockdown, so many of us are isolated. We don’t want to read thrillers about man’s inhumanity. We don’t need reminders that death waits on every surface, in every breath from strangers. Danny the Dog’s story is pure escape into a world that runs on love.
Don’t get me wrong. Andrew might be confused about many things, but Danny sees him and his world with the clarity of a world observed from knee-level. It took him a while to get Andrew trained, Danny admits. “But it’s been worth it. Every morning after I take him for a walk, he gives me a treat. What dog could ask for anything more?”
Danny tells how he rescued his human from a life spiralling down into addiction and depression.
He knows Andrew isn’t perfect, and gleefully calls him out on his failings. “I was pulling on the leash and Andrew was a million miles away, probably wishing he was getting laid more…or at all.”
And (my personal favorite!) Danny is appalled when he hears about Andrew’s wish for a Viking funeral, where the flaming boat has one unacceptable accessory—the dead warrior’s dog is killed and placed at his feet. “I had a talk with Andrew last night and told him that if I went first into the ‘good night,’ then I, too, want a Viking funeral. His buddies should kill him and put him at my feet before they set the boat ablaze.”
Danny’s world is one of unending adventure and possibilities. In Danny’s world, there’s a midnight marauder, and only he, Danny, can stop him. So what if Danny’s version includes defeating thirty killers, with body parts strewn everywhere, while Andrew says someone strolled up to their boat, and turned away when he barked? Danny knows he’s still the hero of his own story.
And at the end of the day, Danny confides his wisdom: the only answer is love.
So to my non-dog friends, I say choose love. I’m only a dog and I love my human unconditionally. Love those around you. Never, ever trade for your love. Never ask for something in return for your love because then it is not love.
If you, like me, are sheltering—cut off from family and friends, with an unhealthy addiction to conflicting news reports, and a refrigerator singing a siren song—do yourself a favor. Open Danny’s book, and enter his world of mocking, saving, and loving his person. We could all use more of that right now.