14 June 2008

Captain Jack Russell and His Crew

Drink up, me hearties, yo ho.

Ever since the premature heat wave this time last week, I have been suffering from that special brand of restless insomnia that can only strike PMSing women whose homes have no air-conditioning. The past two nights, dawn has broken before I was able to sleep, and even then I was up again every two hours to untwist the sheets, find a dry spot in the puddles of sweat, growl something surly to the cat at the foot of the bed demanding breakfast (which was already downstairs if she'd just get off her furry ass and go look), and try to return to unconsciousness. It hasn't been great for morale here in Three Feathers. Fortunately I'm the only one here these days, so I don't feel guilty when I finally slouch downstairs at the crack of noon.

This morning was particularly rough. The humidity is starting to build again, and after finally relaxing at 5:30, I was awake again just after 6:00 and 7:00 to reassess the ORSP situation, not to mention wander down the hall to check on the peeing situation.

Then, at about 8:30, my neighbour walked his dog. The aptly named Jack is (of all things) a Jack Russell mix who suffers from the twin behavioural issues of being part Jack Russell and spending his life with Paul as his full-time companion. They're a good match for each other. They're both wholesomely cute, though in a way that would never encourage me personally to take them home with me; they're well-meaning, enthusiastic, and friendly, sometimes to the point of exhaustion; and both a little bit clueless about social norms. Fortunately neither of them has ever tried to sniff my crotch. In short, I like them both all right, but in short doses and not first thing in the morning. I'm antisocial that way. I think of it as my contribution to world peace.

One of Paul's biggest difficulties with the world is that he grew up across the road on a horse farm of about 40 acres. This has left him with a certain perception of the world and his place in it. Not that he feels a righteous ownership, or that the world owes him anything--he's far too disarming for that. No, the difficulty is that Paul just honestly sometimes flat-out forgets that other people occupy space too, having had so much of it to himself growing up. It's an honest mistake, one we are taking great pains to subtly correct now that Paul and his family occupy land on three sides of us on this side of the road. (The fourth side is railroad tracks.)

Enter Jack. Like all dogs, Jack likes to be walked first thing in the morning. Like all owners of large tracts of land, Paul eschews the conventions of leashdom whenever possible. Like all grouchy neighbours, I am of mixed opinion about this. My problem is not that Jack frequently gets a bug in his puppy little terrier brain and shoots like a rocket in search of a groundhog or a bee or a tennis ball or whatever else might catch his canine fancy at any given moment. Jack is a dog. Dogs are wired that way. Lord knows I've fielded enough phone calls from the next county over because Juno wanted a bobcat for lunch. My problem is that in the summer, the family's alarm clock sounds like this: "Jack! Jack!! Jack, where's your ball? Jack, come! Jack!!!! Who's the good boy, Jack? Jack?? Jack!" This occurs not only because of the aforementioned off-leash tendencies, but because it hasn't yet occurred to Jack's owner that he does not own forty acres of land with no neighbours, and that--get this--sound does not bend to follow property lines.

This has been particularly hard on my father because his name is John. His family nickname? Is, of course, Jack. Early on, he tried to break Paul of this habit by throwing open the nearest window and yelling, "What?" in his sourest Brooklyn accent. Sadly, rather than taking the hint, Paul was amused by this.

One good thing that's happened in the two years we've all been owned by Jack is that this phenomenon has started occurring between 8:00 and 9:00 AM, instead of the less-than-godly 6:30 at which it often used to take place. I don't know whether this is a concession to Paul's schedule, the sleeping habits of his neighbours, or simply the crate-training of a dog with an infinitesimal bladder. As someone who often needs to pee at the crack of dawn myself, I can sympathize with poor Jack. It's his owner who drives me to early morning uncharitableness, especially when I've only just gotten into some semblance of sleep. I do not need to hear a running monologue about what is happening outside my window, in (I may point out) the strip of driveway that he's actually technically trespassing on. Frankly, when I am asleep, I don't care where Jack's ball is, though I do have an idea of where I'd like to put it.

But this morning? Jack did not have a tennis ball. Oh, no no no. No, this morning Jack had a squeaky toy.

Later this afternoon I may post a request for bail money.


Anonymous said...

Sara, thanks for making me smile even with pre-race jitters :) This story reminded me of when my uncle adopted my cousin and, after 7 years of my uncle getting me and my brother presents that were every parent's worst nightmare (e.g. BB gun), my dad returned the favor with (drum roll please).... a drum! For a four year old! Either so funny or so cruel depending on which side your camp is on :)

Minnesota Matron said...

Can Satan's Familiar come and stay with Jack?