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.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.


  1. I can relate to all of this. Ani doesn’t have a dog door, so she is either out (with the doors wide open), in (reminding me she would rather be out) or, more often than not, laid half in and half out, across the threshold, which keeps her belly warm on the rug while effectively preventing me from shutting the door.
    Any intruder will be duly barked at, whether that is a pigeon, a helicopter, or the next door neighbour coming home form work. Had the postman not actually met her, he would never deliver a bill again. But that’s the problem…she’s all bark and no bite and is best friends with almost anyone who has ever come to visit. (Except, oddly enough, my ‘ex’, so she’s not all daft…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure our dogs wouldn’t bite anyone, unless they were cookies. Gibbs drops to the floor and looks downright abject if anyone approaches him. Duke wants to sniff their ears and sit in their laps. But they SOUND ferocious and they make a lot of noise. The noise keeps people off guard … and it keeps the coyotes out of the yard. Of all our wild local critters, the coyotes are the only ones who could do real harm. Well, maybe the wildcats too.

      They dogs all LOVE sitting in the house with their heads sticking out the doggy door. Nice warm bodies, nice cool heads. I always yell “In or out, kids. We can’t afford to heat the whole neighborhood,” which is what my mother used to say. Consistency is important.

      There are people who think we have a bunch of savage dogs, but I suspect they are afraid of all dogs. I remember when my tiny Norwich Terrier chased the FedEx guy out of the yard. Nan was 14 and she didn’t have many teeth left. She couldn’t even run. She sort of limped while walking fast, but this guy was terrified. Tried to leap the gate. Broke the gate. It’s still broken. He quit the job, too.

      THAT is when I put up the BEWARE signs. It’s not that the dogs are dangerous. People are dangerous. I don’t want them opening the gates. The dogs don’t understand cars and roads.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know. Ani just does the whole-body-wag thing as she’s barking…but a real intruder wouldn’t know that. And to be fair, There are enough teeth and claws there to do damage if she thought I was in real danger.

        I live near main roads…and Ani wouldn’t stand a chance. So far, on the couple of occasions she has got out, she has either gone into the fields where we walk or been cajoled into someone’s home until I could get there. It makes me shudder to think of anything else…


        1. I think we all live in terror of cars and trucks. Our dogs could go back into the more than 50 acres of woods behind the house … or head for the road. They ALWAYS head for the road. Why? Maybe because the driveway is a clear path and the woods is more complicated? Fortunately, none of our dogs is eager to escape. Two of them are rescues; I think they are happy enough to have a home and aren’t looking for somewhere else to be. Bonnie used to like running off, but she got picked up by a kidnapper once and since then, hasn’t shown any interest in escaping either.

          I still prefer knowing the fences are solid!


          1. Ani always heads towards the fields where we walk… trouble is, our old walking places are over that damnable road… I like to know she can’t get out too!


                    1. Gotta love the millions of paw prints. As soon as the freezing ends, we will move directly to mud since there’s about half a foot of snow on the ground. “Mud season” is our alternate name for “spring.” Real spring is a myth, something that happens in OTHER climates 🙂


  2. Quite an adventure and I hope that the oilman always rings twice, just to be sure. Cats are not such a problem, any strangers walking around that Tabby disappears for an hour and probably sleeps through it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far, I haven’t seen him at all and I really NEED an oil delivery. It’s COLD out there and we are close to running out of oil. This rarely happens, but in weather this cold, the delivery guys get very busy. If he doesn’t show up in a couple of hours, I will call back to see what is happening.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We seem off the beaten path for lots of stuff. Price we pay for livin’ in the natural beauty of the Blackstone Valley. God’s country.

        But someday there’ll be a city here. Schools, Churches, roads and people. People will come. Children will read about these pioneer days early in the century when our country was run by a monster from another age. People will come.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. John Garfield was the oil delivery guy who got a brief glimpse of Marilyn/Lana Turner and was bewitched, driven by lust and fear of the unholy 3 who guard Rancho Kachingerosa.


        1. I got it immediately.

          Lana in those shorts and Garfield, eyeing her with smoulder.

          “Smoke gets in your eyes”


  3. I hope that by now the oilman has arrived. Cindy is very friendly but very excitable. She barks at anyone who comes to the house but if I put her out or shut her in another room she makes more fuss so it’s better to let her stay around and then she settles down. The trouble is that when she is excited her hackles rise which makes people think she is fierce. David used to say she was just wired wrong. Luckily most people, once they realise that are fine but then she wants to be friends and sheds hair all over them. Not good if it is someone wearing a suit.


    1. The truck never showed up. The driver claims to have called, but he didn’t. We’ll work it out tomorrow. Meanwhile, our dogs are not fierce, but really WANT to be fierce. only someone seriously afraid of all dogs would think they’re dangerous because they clearly aren’t. The Scotties don’t shed, but Duke sheds enough for all of them … and he’s white, so whatever he sheds, it’s hard to miss.


            1. Oddly enough, the dog hair shows pretty well on everything, though that dress was wool challis and I think it was one of those fabrics that attracts dirt and hair. The only fabric I have that actually doesn’t attract hair is denim. You can dust if off and it stays dusted for a few minutes. Everything else, it sticks — especially my own hair, which is falling out. I’m trying not to notice.

              Liked by 1 person

      1. “Those delivery guys. They’re all scum, cheats and rats.Can’t trust any of them.” (Robert Stack in his best Rex Kramer tirade)


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