Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Canine Early Warning System

As anyone who has lived with dogs for any length of time can attest to, these guys are clued into things we can't always see or realize and, lacking a full command of English, they try to convey the danger or threat in ways that are sometimes hard to interpret, until after the fact.
I had such an experience last night.

Normally my only bedmate is Dennis the Menace, a spoiled rotten Chow/Lab/Pit mix who wandered into our lives about a year and a half ago. Whoever had him before must have tired of his high maintence, due largely in part by their initial indulgences with him. He loves to ride in cars and will happily hop into any vehicle with its door(s) open and will lay about on the sofa like he has done so all his life (and most likely has) and in his first night inside without any hesistation leapt upon my bed and made himself at home, snuggling up alongside me. Being a hardcore dog person, I didn't make a fuss. He was clean and flea free-so what the hell? He has done so ever night since.

Much to the annoyance of my other dog, Zeke the Freak, a German Shepherd who we've had since puppyhood and my husband had put the fear of God into him that dogs DO NOT belong in bed. (he wasn't as lacksadaisical about critters as I was.) So Zeke grew up never ever getting on the bed...or sofas...or recliners. It just wasn't done. I'm sure Dennis' blatantly breaking of the rules confuses him to no end. And then there is Hannah, a timid creature, a rescue Shepherd who we have been trying to rehabilitate. She is almost invisible most times. We've had her for nearly 2 years now and she almost acting like a real dog at this point, even barking on rare occasions. But she prefers to keep a low profile...really low. And getting on the bed or any furniture is completely beyond her comprehension. She just doesn't do it. She'll lay down next to the bed at night, wanting to be close to me and safe, in her mind. But to make that leap up to the bed is unthinkable.

So I was terribly confused as all get out early this morning when, during a huge thunderstorm and shortly after a big clap of thunder had awoken me, Zeke the Freak leapt up on the bed and curled up next to me. His ears were back and his anxious panting was shaking the whole bed. Dennis, hunkered down in his spot, under the blankets and curled up at my ankles was still sound asleep and didn't even poke his head out to investigate. No doubt Zeke was scared of the storm. Like alot of dogs he doesn't care for thunderstorms. But this reaction was not normal.
As was Hannah's, who joined us shortly after that. Bravely fleeing her safe hidey spot alongside the bed, she too jumped up with a boldness that shocked me. She wouldn't lay down, but rather stood on the side opposite to me and Zeke and just stared out the window. She was panting too. Now the whole damn bed was rocking.
"Hannah, lay down." I mumbled, still groggy, not fully realizing the significance of all 3 dogs in my bed.
Always obedient, she did, hesitantly. Hannah, is as high strung and nervous as Zeke could be, I just brushed it off to the severity of the storm-the lightening and close strikes making for deafening thunder.

The storm raged outside. I could hear the rain coming down in torrents or as the locals say 'like a cow pissing on a flat rock'. Yeah, it was doozy outside. The creeks would be up for sure.
I was now surrounded, left, right and feet by dogs. This is what the Eskimos had meant by a 3 dog night,I suppose but the mild night temperature at the moment made it soon hot and uncomfortable. I would have appreciated this back in Jan. but right now, it was stiffling. The rain did trouble me and I strained to hear outside the open window any sound of potential trouble. But my sleepiness refused me to try and climb out of bed to investigate. After awhile the rain seemed to ease up some and between the panting of the dogs and the slowly softening sound of the rain, I was lulled back to sleep.

Daylight reavealed what had freaked the animals out so much in the wee hours of the morning.

Debris was everywhere! I had an Oh shit! moment. We had had a flash flood. Not our usual flash flood where the water on our nearby creek gets past the banks and backs up some into the road. No, this one could have been very bad! I was stunned by the the debris line showing just how high and just where the water had been. This one had been too close for comfort. This had been what the dogs had been telling me. We had been surrounded, perhaps briefly, on all sides by water...even the backyard which is on an uphill slope!

Further investigation showed the cause for the unheard of backyard flooding. Large amounts of trees and debris had backed up against a little concrete bridge that is between us and the store building on the otherside of the stream. Years ago this little village had been the center of commerce around here, we currently live in what was the store owners home. The little bridge across the stream had been built for his convienience, a shortcut to the backdoor of the general store.

In a way, I'm glad that I didn't react immediately to the dogs weird behavior...I would have freaked out for sure seeing us an island amidst rushing water in the dark. But on the other time I will pay better attention!

This shows the waterline that was in the driveway out front.

Man, the phone company's gonna hate that! This is on the edge of my front yard. Wonder where the cover went?

OH! There it is!! (Clear across the road and about 80 feet away!)

Uhhh, these aren't suppose to be here!

The big creek in front of our house. Yikes!

Well, there's your problem right there! This shows all the debris backed against the bridge. Some where in there near the center of that mess you can barely see a restaurant bench seat...that thing was out behind the store and a good 10 feet from the bank. Was.

Hey! Where the hell did my railroad ties go??!!

Nevermind...well, ones accounted for anyway. The other? Probably halfway to the Gulf of Mexico by now.


Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Holy cow! I guess you've cleared the bridge by now. Yep, I never ignore my dogs.

Dennis sounds a bit like my Digby whom I adopted because he was abandoned on the farm - part border collie/part Aussie shepherd. He must have been a teddy bear of a pup, spoilt rotten and then later mistreated when he grew too big.

5/10/2006 2:10 PM  
Blogger Cookie..... said...

Whoa....glad yur OK amiga (and all yur critters). I know you most generally have interestin posts...but this one is a little scarey. Hope there wasn't any damage to the hacienda, sheds and stuff....

Isn't it great how those dogs surrounded and protected you while trying to warn you...I love dogs fer their loyalty and intelligence..

5/10/2006 2:40 PM  
Blogger Mark Wayne said...

Don't know what hapened to your husband but sounds like he needs to come back and discipline those dogs. Had that problem when I first married my lovely bride... dogs all over the furniture...HUMMM

5/10/2006 4:28 PM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

Mark, my husband passed away a few years ago. So it's just me holding down the fort now. That might be one reason I don't mind spoiling Dennis. I miss the weight on 'his' side of the bed. But the other 2 have never done such a thing until the other night.They were trying to get my attention-I was just too sleepy to figure it out.

But I tolerate doggies on the furniture way better than cats on kitchen counters! Now that's just gross, IMO.

5/10/2006 4:51 PM  
Blogger Lemuel Calhoon said...

Glad you made it through OK. You might want to put an inflatable raft under the bed, just in case.

5/10/2006 5:09 PM  
Blogger Mark Wayne said...

Opps, now don't I feel like an idiot.
Sorry !

5/10/2006 6:50 PM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

S'ok. You didn't know and it's not something I mention alot.
I'm not offended in the least.
If you got someone near & dear, cherish them, even when they piss you off, cuz it can be gone in an instant!

Stopped by your place today. Nice stuff. I'm honored by the link! Thanks so much! I'll have to check out your in-laws blog-my ma grew up in Eaton,In. in the 20's & 30's. She had alot of stories about those times.
And thanks for coming by.

5/10/2006 9:47 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

Yes, you are lucky you didn't wake up.

You couldn't have done anything and, fortunately, the dogs were inside. That would be my only concern as the pal of three dogs, too.

BTW, I love to sleep with my dogs but Mark Wayne just won't put up with it!

5/11/2006 8:59 AM  

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