The Doc’s been watching a lot of TV lately so to keep him company I’ve been watching, too. The usual cooking shows, sure, but also a lot of sports. And not just the usual stuff, like baseball, which I find kind of relaxing. You know, guys standing around in some nice park with perfect grass, not much going on except every once in a while one guy hits a ball and all the other guys run around chasing it. Like the park. Some of my pals can’t get enough of chasing balls. Not my thing, but whatever. The point is I get baseball, sort of.
But then there’s hockey. Have you every seen this game? A bunch of guys on ice skates with big sticks batting this thing back and forth that you can’t even see most of the time apparently trying to get it past this one guy dressed up in some kind of armor and into the net behind him. The Doc said the thing they were hitting is called the puck. Like that was supposed to make the whole business any less ridiculous.
At the same time, on different channels, there would be Important Basketball, or Important Golf, or Very Important Tennis and we’d be switching back and forth trying not to miss anything. I had no idea he cared so much about games he never plays. One day he put on Important Car Racing. Again, I like riding in cars. Love it. But going around in circles for a few hours and crashing into things isn’t something either he or I would ever want to do.
I tried to ask him what the deal was. All he said was, “It’s the playoffs,” or “It’s the Open,” which seemed to apply to both tennis and golf, or “It’s the Stanley Cup.” Suffice it to say we didn’t have too many deep conversations while all these Important Sports were happening. Until we got to Important Soccer.
“It’s the World Cup. It’s huge in most parts of the world, especially in the Latin countries.”
Really? No way, Jose. This was pushing it. A bunch of guys kicking a ball up and down this big field, no hands. Like one of my guys trying to fetch without using his teeth. Maybe, every once in a while, one of these guys would kick it, or bounce it off his head, into the goal. Maybe. When that happened everyone would go nuts. Most of the time, though, it was just a bunch of guys kicking a ball back and forth from one end of a large field to the other. Boring. He wouldn’t admit it, but I know he felt the same way.
The reason I know is because in the middle of some Really Important Soccer match he put the TV on mute and got this serious look on his face. I was lying on the floor, close enough to the couch that he could reach down and pat my head every once in a while, which I like. So he starts patting and then he asks me a question. It must have been on his mind for some time, considering the tone he used.
I looked up. “Yeah?”
“So why have you been sleeping outside all night lately?”
“I mean, your whole life you slept in your bed, in our room, except for going out to pee once in a while. And even that didn’t always work out so well. Remember the skunk?”
The skunk! How could I forget? I’ll tell you about that some other time. Disgusting. I wagged my tail a few times to let him know I was paying attention.
“But now you stay out all night. It’s a little weird. Are you OK?”
I hadn’t really thought about it but he was right. For some reason I’d started sleeping on this bed they have for me just outside the back door, in the yard. I don’t know why.
“I don’t know why. I just do. I like it. I feel fine. Keep patting my head, OK?” I wagged a few more times, figuring he’d change the subject or go back to watching Really Important Boring Soccer but no such luck.
“Come on, I’m serious. I’m worried that maybe you’re not well. Could be your thyroid or something. Heat intolerance. Or maybe you’re getting a little senile. You know, you go out to pee and then forget where you are and spend the night in the yard. Maybe we need to go see the vet?”
I stopped wagging and pulled my ears back. I gave him my most serious look, the one just before I show some teeth.
“Look,” I said, “I feel fine. I’m not crazy or senile. I’m not the one watching Really Important Boring Soccer, remember? I sleep outside because I like it now. I didn’t like it before. I don’t know why. I don’t overanalyze things. If it’s bothering you so much why don’t you Google it or something? Do some research. You’re the Doc. Figure it out.”
I’ll admit I was a little testy. The ‘senile’ remark got to me. I’m getting older, of course, but according to the vet I’m fine. And I’m no older, in dog years, than he is. Maybe that’s what was going on, a little transference, I think they call it. He’s worried he’s losing his marbles so he’s accusing me of losing mine.
We both stood up. I was going out. I’d had enough of the psychotherapy. I figured he was going to the kitchen, or maybe the bathroom, two of his favorite places when watching Really Important Sports, but when I saw him headed for the stairs I followed him down. Sure enough he went straight to the computer.
“Are you actually going to Google ‘why I like to sleep outside’?” I asked, cocking my head in that cute way we do when we think you’re being weird.
“Not you, exactly, but dogs in general. I’m pretty sure you don’t have a lock on this bit of antisocial behavior.”
Ah, ‘antisocial’. He thinks I’m sleeping outside because I don’t like him, which is ridiculous, or because he snores, which he does, but so do I so I don’t see why he’d think that would matter.
“Get any hits?” I asked, not taking any obvious offense at the ‘antisocial’ crack, but not denying it either, just to keep him guessing.
“So? What’s my problem?”
“Well, according to this you might not have a problem. It seems no one knows for sure why dogs start sleeping outside when they get to a certain age, but a lot of you do it. Certain breeds more than others, like Huskies, which means like you since you’re mostly Husky and Chow. There’s no science here, just a lot of concerned people worried their dogs are losing it somehow, and a lot of other people telling them it’s no big deal. Especially if the weather isn’t a problem, which it almost never is here.”
I started wagging my tail. I hadn’t thought about it but since he brought it up I was starting to wonder if maybe he was on to something. Maybe I was getting a little, I don’t know, old. Maybe. Good to know I’d been right all along.
“Great,” I said with a smile. Then I made the low growl noise. He understood immediately.
“Good idea. Let’s go for a walk.”