Dear Clare,

It is just moments before midnight and we have just finished watching an episode of Midsomer Murders. Have you seen that show? If not, I recommend it. It follows detective Thomas Barnaby in the sleepy county of Midsomer somewhere in England where the murder rate is probably the highest in the world including countries at war. I have been watching it, that is. Phyllis falls into a deep sleep usually about ten minutes into anything. I, on the other hand, find myself oppositely effected by most external stimuli. If we assume that at some point or another both parties are interested in a good night’s sleep than you can see the problem.

In the event of a long term power outage, Phyllis just might find herself on the brink of exhaustion because if there isn’t something plugged into the wall making some kind of racket then she is not sleeping. Now that the show is over and silence prevails I have decided to write a little bit(to help me fall asleep). I face, however, the tricky situation of trying to do so without stirring Phyllis into what I call “the external noise segue.” Sometimes I am successful, most times I am not. She does it almost in her sleep. The sound of one thing will end and a calm settles. It’s like when the jackhammer crew finally packs it in for the day.  At last a much awaited calm descends upon the room.

Then, sure enough, you see her lurking about the radio dials, or messing about trying to get some other program going or, at worst, fishing around for her favorite weapon of sleep destruction, the hair dryer. That’ll be tonight.’s choice.

“Come on, you’re not serious,” I say, sitting up in protest. “Just for a minute, it’s soooo cold in here,” she says, “Just five minutes, I promise.” For Phyllis, the hair dryer provides both white noise and heat. These are two items decidedly conducive to her falling fast asleep. For me it is like leaving a Volkswagon Bug in need of a timing adjustment idling in the closet. It is not an infrequent occurrence to exceed the “five minutes” right up until 4 A.M. rolls around announced by the sound of the hairdryer, having affixed itself to the cat, (another story really)whining and smelling like a vacuum cleaner that has just sucked up a rancid old sock. This, at least, puts an end to the din and not even a slight concern that some of the glowing cat hair and lint that got sucked through the heating coils of the hairdryer is kindling enough to ignite the eiderdown can stop me from sleeping. Our first winter here Phyllis heated the entire back end of the trailer with a hairdryer.

Problem is, we need to sleep these days for they are long and the nights are not likely to pass without disturbance. We have gone from frightfully slow to definitely busy which means we have to employ the outer cabins for accommodation. Currently we have a rather unfortunate grouping which can make 4 dogs seem like twenty. It is a bad combination of a few too many that are overly accustomed to “getting their way” as well as an over concentration of certain breeds. Currently that would be Weimaraners.

One Weimaraner can be a handful. Four is an outright oversight in planning. Throw in a German Short Haired Pointer(Weimaraner at a costume ball)and you have really gotten in over your head. Thing is, these dogs are goal oriented. They were bred for it. Consider being born with the mantra, duck duck duck duck duck duck…..rattling about your brain continuously as a driving force to your every move. As most that we deal with at Barksville may never see a duck they tend to find something else upon which to fixate. We have one here, Clyde, who has cast aside his duck fetching fetish and decided to devote all of his time to humping a mystery cross named Felix. Hump hump hump hump hump hump Felix. Felix, though clearly not enjoying the attention, is weathering pretty well.

Clyde, the humping Weimaraner comes with Bonnie,(go figure)the barking Weimaraner, who lives to instill disquiet amongst the troops. It is she who picks up every movement, every passing bike, every squirrel that needs terrorizing and sets about inciting 12 sleeping dogs to riot. If there is nothing to bark at she just invents something. Due to the removal of her vocal chords by her previous owners, her bark is not of the booming pile driver sort like the other Weimaraners. She produces a sound like a desperate asthmatic in need of a puffer. I think this handicap is behind her need to rally as many as she can to her cause to make up for her lack of volume. Problem is she’s not against doing this at 4:15 in the morning(a mere fifteen minutes after the oft nightly hairdryer incident you might note).

She and Clyde sleep in one of the outer cabins. If she decides to let loose it becomes more involved than throwing a heavy item down the hall and lashing out with silence inducing expletives. No, her outbursts are of an escalating nature and it is only a matter of time before she has somehow convinced Clyde that he has been set on fire and must join in if he is to be saved. He takes that role very seriously. Yelling words of discouragement at the cabin does nothing but rile them up even more. Besides, I was once informed by our closest neighbor that shouting, “Shut the fuck up or I swear this time I’ll kill you,” is almost as unsettling to those within earshot as perhaps the barking. The only real solution is to shuffle out to the cabin in my underwear and deliver a quiet yet effective cease and desist order before the neighbors rebel. Statistically it is inevitably me out there in my underwear as these nocturnal disturbances seem to drive Phyllis into a near coma.

The most neurotic Weimaraner award goes to Ms. Mavis, who we call, Ms. Inappropriate for long. Her day is composed of a little cycle. First off she needs to go outside. Want out of the crate out of the crate out of the crate. She is out for usually no more than five minutes when she is compelled by an overwhelming urge to come, back inside back inside back inside. To make herself clear she starts throwing herself against the back door. Bash the door bash the door bash bash the door. Your choices are to kill her or give in and so, in she comes. She immediately refocuses. Kill the cat kill the cat kill kill kill the cat. As this type of behavior contributes little to our desire to afford ourselves a little afternoon calm around here, she usually finds herself back in the crate. Believe it or not she’s actually pretty good with this and this segment is usually the longest in her cycle. Until some other dog strolls by, that is, or if she spies the cat who makes a game of appearing when Mavis is enjoying a little quiet time in her crate. Then she erupts like a psychotic jack-in-the-box bashing into the grating. After a few of these outbursts(like someone firing a gun off in the room)it’s back outside for Ms. Mavis. Having once successfully completed the cycle she basically starts all over again and repeats until about 9 pm until even she is exhausted. She seems quite happy passing her days this way. We pass our days marking how many days till Ms. Mavis leaves.

Though Bonnie is the master, all of them can agree upon letting loose an impromptu rousing round of relentless and exceptionally loud barking at the site of just about anything-have to let the hunter know where you are once you dash off after the fallen duck duck duck and all I suppose. Bark bark bark bark bark bark followed by a series of annoying whistling/whining sounds. Thank God for the “Super Soaker” pump action water canon. Nothing really produces a much desired silence just like this baby. Unless you are Felix, who is addicted to all things water. For him the appearance of the “Super Soaker” has quite the opposite effect. As twelve instantly silent, panic stricken dogs flee from the comical sight of me madly pumping the “Super Soaker” and charging the gate Felix, finally free from Clyde’s advances, can be seen bouncing his way through the hoard to meet me like a cartoon dog, mouth open, tongue flying and begging for me to give him all I got. A cheap sprinkler running in the yard will both water the grass and occupy Felix for an entire day.

Colonel Klink is back as well. He announced his arrival with a series of convulsions which yielded a plug about the size of a soup can containing the compacted contents of his stomach. Apparently feeling better, he celebrated by bouncing around the yard(just out of reach)and barking like a car alarm. Fortunately he responds well to the Super Soaker.

Amongst the other attendees are: Rebel the Labradoodle-considered great family dogs by some though, from our experience we note most don’t respond to “come” or much of anything else really. Rebel has been known to jump five feet straight in the air just to show you how happy she is; Candy-a Great Dane crossed with something even bigger, perhaps a small pony, who is one of our favorites despite a proclivity to tackle and hump small children who have made the mistake of running. Fortunately we discourage small children from hanging about and certainly not to run if they do show up. She likes(demands really)to sleep on the couch and, I couldn’t help but notice this morning, suffers potentially from a bit of incontinence. If anything she is happy; Kestrel-a Pit Bull cross who if not closely monitored will dine on several large turds(any kind will do), drink a gallon of water and then look really perplexed as the inevitable projectile vomiting commences. She took out the entire front end of the trailer with such tomfoolery not long ago.

There’s a bunch more including two day care Weimaraners who add to the barking chorus but this is dragging on and I am sure you get my point.

All this to say, it is key to get a few hours of sleep when we are to be this busy. I should go. Mavis is on at the back door again and I suppose I ought to do something to suppress the desire to kill her.

I remain, at odds with the hairdryer and also hoping tonight is not the night for any of the 19 guests camped out in our living room to experience gastrointestinal distress of any kind which might result in the discovery tomorrow morning of any “floor pizzas,” “sofa sausages” or puddled matter,



This just in. I have procured a deluxe model hairdryer from a source I can not reveal which operates at a decibel level far below that of the old model. Also, the old model, upon start up has started to make a noise like a coffee grinder and more often then not requires a few solid knocks upon a hard surface to calm it down.

One Response to “Need to Sleep Sleep Sleep……..”

  1. Adam

    So, you do like dogs, don’t you?
    What ever your response, you have proven that dog ownership is akin to child rearing both in the scope of the work, difficulty and the occasional reward.
    I am glad you are there, taking on this responsibility, as many dog owners, including some of your clients, apparently, do not. Eating turds is akin to the child who consumes boogers or others people’s gum from under the desk. That animal needs help.

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