The nightly ritual starts as always with me getting my dog ready for bed. He is an outside dog so I make sure he is kept warm in the cooler months by starting the process with a doggy jacket. Its well worn, a patchy green quasi military coat that has been mended multiple times, each time getting closer to a perfect fit. With that in place I go back to the dishes, the internet and whatever else is on my agenda.
An hour or so later when I’m about to head off to bed I go out to put him into his dog house. By this time he is quite happily laying comfortably snuggled up on my blanketed bean bag that he has most shamelessly appropriated. Scrunched into a gangly ball, head half cocked with nose stuck into the nervously nibbled fleece, eye nothing more than a slit, he naps. No matter how quietly I move he always registers me before I get to him. The eye lid rises, the tail wiggles and the head finally shifts from its contorted slumber to full alert.
We spend a little time snuggled up together on the slowly compressing beans. A pat, a snuggle, a little one way conversation intermixed with the odd lick and groan to tell me he has no idea what I’m saying but he loves me anyway and then its time for bed. This is not unlike putting to bed a child. He sometimes refuses to get off the warm and well dented bean bag so I end up just putting a blanket over him and tuck it in around him. Most nights however, he reluctantly moves from his warm spot to the cold but better sheltered dog house only two feet away and situated next to my bedroom window. Once settled, in goes a blanket over him, not to mention the already well padded, pillowed and blanketed interior. He seems to like having the blanket covering him. He snuggles down and with head lowered he becomes nothing more than a heap of blanket. He gives a bit of a snuff and a huff and I know I’m not needed any more, he is already on his way to slumber land.
Shortly there after, crawling into my own bed, out goes the light and I too become little more than a heap of doona. About twenty minutes later there is a shifting in the dog house. As usual the one eye flicks open, this time mine, not his, and out of the dog house pops a light tan blanket floating about like a ghost in the night. Lap, lap, lap, lap, lap, lap, silence and then a few moments later back comes the magically transfixed piece of fleece. Thump, bump, humf, and all is quiet once again.
Most nights he keeps his blanket, sometimes he even walks out in the morning with it still slung over his back. A Houdini trick that only he seems to know. Other times I go out to find the blanket vanished.
“Ok, where have you left it this time?” I ask, hands on hips. Eyes look earnestly up at me as the tail wags from side to side. No answer of course. Telling him to fetch doesn’t work either. He hates doggy games. If you throw a ball to him he steps aside and lets it fall to the ground beside him. He looks at the inanimate ball and then looks at me as if to say, “Well this is stupid!”
Sometimes I give myself a fright coming up on the blanket in the dark laying out front in the driveway as we head for our morning walk. It takes a moment to focus on the fact that the sprawling twisted mass is actually a blanket and not an animal. Other times its not so easily found. In that case, after we’ve come home from our walk, we go blanket hunting. Linus excitedly follows me around. The wagging tail speeds up with each false attempt at finding the newest drop spot for his blanket and that ball throwing look appears once again, “No, not there either Mummy!”
Eventually I find the dewy covered blanket along the back fence line. The game is done. ©