We need an oil delivery. Last I looked — about a week ago — the gauge indicated just barely a quarter of a tank and it has been very cold outside. The heat has been pumping at a rate far above its normal, relatively languid rate. The truck is supposed to show up today. In a normal home, they come, pump, and leave. That’s the whole story.
However, we’ve got dogs. Before they enter the yard, I need to secure the three of them so they can safely open the front gate and drag the long, heavy hose across the yard. They tried heaving it over the fence, but the fence collapsed. Now, they unlock it — and we have to dig through however much snow so they can do this. The year we got 12 feet of snow, we did a lot of digging.
I live in mortal terror of dogs running into the road. We don’t have a lot of traffic, but it is always too fast. People drive this road as if no one lives here, but it is lined on both sides with homes. Houses are set far apart, I grant you, but this is no kind of speedway. I sometimes wonder if they are going to whack me at the mailbox. They’ve gotten close.
Generally speaking, it’s easy to get the dogs inside. Food works wonders. If they think there is something in it for them, they are in like flashes. Then,of course, there’s dinner. They are always early for dinner by at least half an hour. From when they think they should get dinner to when they actually do get dinner, they leap into the air and twirl for us, often while barking. Because you know, if they didn’t do that, we’d probably forget to feed them. They can barely survive from meal to meal and still stand steadily on their paws, the poor starving creatures.
I’m strong about this issue. Unless we are going out and need to feed them early, they get dinner at four and occasionally — please, understand that life sometimes causes the dog’s dinners to be deferred — as late as five or six. I try not break down and give them dinner early because if they eat early, they are sure they need another dinner a few hours later.
They do not need another dinner. It’s a lie. They lie like dogs.
Getting them in the house is usually easy. Unless there’s someone or something on the property. A vehicle. A delivery person. A truck in the driveway produces chaos and all bets are off. No bribery will nudge them from their assigned duty of protecting us from deliveries — and neighbors.
Gibbs races around the yard at a speed you wouldn’t think a Scottie could manage while simultaneously barking in a frenzy until whatever was there is gone. This means if it’s a worker — say, the cable guy — who is going to be here a while, Gibbs will continuously race around the yard barking frantically the entire time. It is wearing on everyone’s nerves and it is, as far as we can tell, impossible to get him to shut up — or even come inside. The few times we have convinced him to come in, he still barks the whole time. Inside. Barking.
Bonnie gives a few friendly “got a cookie?” barks. She’s fine with everybody. Not a great watch dog and lacking the deep suspicion of strangers Gibbs and Duke have.
Duke goes all protective — a 40-pound coil of canine protection, including a considerable amount of growling. He’s not obedient any time, but with someone in the driveway and in particular, a truck? He is The Guardian. If the oil people are coming, I need to have them call me before they open the gate. All drivers have cell phones, so it’s not so hard. As soon as we get the call, Garry and I race out to corral the dogs and lock the dog’s door.
This was easier when we were younger.
We could try to keep them inside, but they have lost that “tell your people when you need to go out” thing dogs usually have as part of housebreaking. They know they can always get outside, the same way we know the bathroom is just down the hall. It is one of the side effects of having a door of their own. I’m not sure they entirely recognize that “out” is a different place than “in.” It’s all just “home” to them.
So today, we wait for when cometh the oil delivery. As I type, the dogs are calm, collected, peacefully resting on the sofa. Yet I know, at any moment, the truck will show up and these same peaceful dogs will become insane balls of fiery protective energy.
It’s fortunate we don’t need oil very often.