Our dog Cuervo is too short to see out the bedroom window to perform his watchdog duties without hopping up and down. He's a diligent boy, checking the perimeter several times during the night in hopes of "seeing something".
When he "sees something" it triggers a prehistoric reflex known to animal behaviorists as "hopping." After years of careful study, I have determined that there is a wide range of noises and events that will trigger this hopping reflex from one side of the scale labeled, "falling leaf" to the opposite end best described as "splitting atom."
At night, I have developed a curious habit known as "sleeping." It is curious how much at odds "sleeping" and "hopping" are. You may have noticed that there are a lot of quotation marks so far in this column. Feel entirely free to wiggle your fingers up in the air to illustrate them. Ignore passersby.
As silly as it seems, the mere fact that a dog is hopping up and down on my head in the middle of the night causes my own involuntary reflex, described to the layman as "screaming." My wife takes it all in stride, rolling over, cocooning herself in all the covers and shouting, "Hey! People sleeping over here!"
We got Cuervo from the Granby animal shelter. In a previous column I referred to it as the dog pound but apparently that's politically incorrect and as insensitive as calling a person a lawyer, just because they're wearing a tie. We told the folks at animal control that we were looking for a black hound mix that weighed about 50 to 60 pounds. One day they called my wife and said they had the perfect dog.
Sweet, I thought when my wife told me. I figured the perfect dog should have an annual income of about $65,000, wouldn't shed, sleeps on the floor and finds all our lost socks. The perfect dog would take out the trash and wax the cars on Sunday. So on the way to the shelter I asked my wife what color he was, "Uh, it is a 'he' right?"
"Well, I don't know, I didn't ask but they said it was perfect for us."
"What size?" I asked.
"I don't know," she said with a crabby edge, "is this the inquisition? They said it was perfect and they deal with dogs all the time."
Perfect must be a relative concept because the little yellow yapper they paraded out was clearly the wrong dog. I frowned and shook my head. My wife beamed and nodded hers. The dog hopped into my arms and started licking my face, "Oh," I said, "this is just perfect."
That was several years ago year ago and everybody's come around. We named him Cuervo because he's a strong licker. He's weaseled his way into our family as well as our hearts and sofa.
Who knows? If space aliens ever land in our back yard, maybe he'll just be the one to bounce off my head and chase them right back to Pluto.
What's me losing a little sleep compared to saving the known universe?