3.42am and I was woken by an earsplitting, inhuman howl which seemed, inexplicably, to be emanating from directly behind my left ear. I peeled myself off the ceiling, flicked the light on and was attempting to calm the dogs down (who were by this time all running up and down the bed, barking and growling and snapping at each other in their fright) before I realised that the sound was actually a cat fight going on underneath my bedroom window.
Now I like cats but—damn—why does it always seem to happen outside my bedroom window. Going outside to shoo the cats way only seemed to wind them up a notch, thus inciting dogs Harry and Sasha from next door, and Max, Storm, Caesar, Turbo and Rosie from further down the road to join in with the unholy racket. Somehow I don’t think I am going to be the only cranky-pants, bleary-eyed pet owner on my street today.
Eventually the caterwauling stopped. I guess they got bored—or realised they had successfully woken every person and every dog in a three block radius and had therefore done their work. My girls went back to sleep immediately (so irritating) and I was left to lie there, waiting, hoping, to fall back asleep. I didn’t.
By the time I was beginning to get sleepy again the ‘dawn chorus’ was starting up. One lone kookaburra started to chuckle quietly to himself and I remember thinking, ‘Here we go’. Sure enough, he was followed by an answering giggle and and then a full on belly-laugh, and before long they were all laughing hysterically—no doubt gossiping about the outcome of last night’s cat commotion. Then the magpies joined in, in full voice, and once I heard the first black cockatoo screech I knew it was all over. Who can sleep through that? Time to get up.
It was barely light yet but at least it was dry (we’ve just had four days and nights of absolutely torrential non-stop rain) so I decided to walk them down to the beach. This morning Molly decided she wanted to come with us. This was unusual. Molly doesn’t ‘do’ mornings. In the world according to Molly, mornings are for stretching, breakfast and straight back to bed. Mornings are definitely not for walking. (Molly could give Garfield a run for his money when it comes to laziness and food).
But today she came running up and did her little ‘take me, take me’ dance. In spite of the fact that she was so enthusiastic (and she definitely needs the exercise) I was hesitant. I have been bitten before (figuratively speaking). I like to stride out with Mabel and Maude in the morning and get a good long walk in. Molly gets all gung-ho and raring to go—and then we get to the end of the road and around the corner, and she will suddenly stop dead, and sit. And sit. And sit. Once she has decided she will go no further there is no moving (or dragging) her. Believe me I’ve tried.
Once, in my frustration, I even dropped her lead and walked away with the other girls. I walked blocks and blocks and when I looked back, there she was, a tiny black dot, sitting in exactly the same place I left her. Stubborn as. And by the time we got back to her she was still sitting, unmoved, like a little doggie stuffed toy—and, once she realised I was no longer going to try to persuade her to go further, she happily trotted all the way home. I can still see that little smug smile on her face.
(Seeing how well it worked for Molly, Mabel tried the same trick once. I dropped her lead and walked away from her and got maybe ten feet before she came hurtling up behind me, crying ‘Don’t leave me, don’t leave me’. Bless.)
Anyway today Molly swore to me she would walk the whole way, so I gave in. And, surprisingly, she was as good as her word. She huffed and puffed a bit but she didn’t pull up once and we got to the beach, just as it was coming light. I did a quick scan up and down and saw we were the only ones there so I let the girls off their leads so they could have a good run around.
Or at least Maudie could have a good run around. Maudie loves the beach. As soon as she hits the sand she is away, and she runs and runs and runs. No direction, no purpose, just pure joy. Mabel (you may have already guessed this) is scared of the beach. She will stay as close to my ankles as she can without tripping me. The delights of the beach are totally wasted on Mabel. And Molly, on the few occasions we have actually managed to get her that far, likes to potter around in the bushy, grassy areas of the dunes, looking for good smells and dead things to roll in.
So I was a bit taken aback with slow and steady Molly, whose top speed is usually a slow waddle, suddenly shot past me at full throttle and hurtled back the way we had just come. It only took one look over my shoulder to see why. #$%&*. Kangaroos. A small group of ‘roos had silently appeared and were grazing quietly in the dunes close to the bush.
‘Oh how lovely’, you might think. And you’d be right. They are beautiful, gorgeous creatures. When seen from a distance. And when not being chased by a small, fierce, hopped-up-on-adrenalin Pomeranian. Up close and cranky they are a lot bigger than you’d think and they can be pretty scary. One could easily kill a Molly-dog if provoked. Molly, of course, could give two hoots about that. Molly is a Wolf in Pomeranian clothing.
There was nothing for me to do but run along the beach after her, calling desperately for her to ‘Stop. Stay. Heel.’ All to no avail. She was ‘in the zone’. What a sight we must have made. Kangaroos bounding gracefully along the deserted beach. Molly, little legs going ten to the dozen, pelting after them. Maude, running after her, laughing, and looking over her shoulder at me—with no idea what all the excitement was about, but loving the game anyway. And me, a long way behind (me—running on sand—dear God—seriously?) and carrying Mabel, who was so upset by the sudden dramatic turn of events she looked like she might need resuscitating at any moment.
And then, quite suddenly, the kangaroos and Molly left the beach and vanished into the thick bush. #$%&*, again. Even if I could have seen where they went I couldn’t take the other two girls into the bush after them, so all I could do was wait on the beach, pacing and calling, my heart in my mouth, and hope that Molly would soon reappear. Thankfully, she did.
Fifteen minutes later she wobbled out of the bush, exhausted, covered in sand, bits of bush and other debris sticking out of her fur at all angles, and her little pink tongue hanging out about a foot. I was so relieved she was all in one piece I couldn’t even be cross with her. Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her quite so happy . . .
Of course, she was also so pooped I had to carry her all the way back to the house.
An hour later we were all safely home, clean, fed, and in the case of the girls, sleeping again. What more could three little dogs ask for?
They got to shout abuse at cats in the middle of the night and and encourage all their doggie friends in the street to do the same. The got to go to the beach in the early early morning and play in the sand and bark and run and chase kangaroos—or at least, chase Molly who was chasing kangaroos. They all got hugs and kisses from their Mum for being good brave girls during all the drama (even Mabel) and they all got a yummy Christmas breakfast when they got home. And now they are sleeping on their brand new Christmas beds, with their new Christmas teddy (which Maudie has killed twice already) and the remnants of the Christmas wrapping paper (which was Mabel’s favourite present). Best.Christmas.Day.Ever. And the day isn’t even half over yet.
So they’re happy, and that means I’m happy (and also in need of a stiff drink and lie down). And I hope you are too. Happy I mean—not in need of the drink and the lie down . . . although it is Christmas. I also, most sincerely, hope you had a gentler start to your Christmas Day.
So—from me to you— ‘Merry Christmas, nearly everybody.’ (I am not extending that greeting to the owners of last night’s cats. I am still pissed off about those cats . . . )