In the middle of the night, my dog Duncan will request a bathroom break. Many people might get frustrated by a dog who demands to be let out at midnight or 3 a.m., but I’m awake so it’s usually not a big deal.
Just stepping away from my desk, from my work, is a great thing. While I’m occasionally annoyed by Duncan’s timing — he doesn’t understand the concept of breaking news — I still stand up and offer my assistance because a) he needs to pee and, 2) I should stop staring at my screen for five minutes and take a break.
Now the process of letting Duncan out is almost always an adventure. First, I have to turn on the light and check the back patio for glowing eyes. Living in the country, it’s not uncommon for there to be wildlife hanging around. In the warmer months, this is a critical move because skunks wander near our home, and the last thing I want is for the dog to encounter such an odorous creature.
I’m also careful to check for people. Although we live on a main road, there are no sidewalks, so we don’t get a lot of foot traffic. But I imagine anyone out for a night stroll would not appreciate coming face to snout with a growling and/or barking dog, particularly one who’s trying to protect his people.
I will let Duncan out if the cat from next door is hanging around; unlike our felines, she enjoys playing with him. I’ll also open the door if the squirrels who live in the big ugly tree are scampering about; these creatures tend to vex Duncan by not playing with him, but he always gets a kick of their encounters anyway.
Once I’ve deemed the coast clear, I’ll open the door for him to do his business. While I wait, I take notice of the outside world. In winter months, I breathe in the clean, cold air. During warmer months, I scowl at the bugs that dance around the porch light. When there’s a full moon, I glance up into the night sky and greet her. On starry nights, I might take a moment to step outside and make a wish. In the spring, I listen to the mating call of the peepers. And on the rare occasions when it snows, I stare in wonder as the fluffy flakes fall.
After Duncan finishes, he trots up to the door and waits patiently to be let in. He didn’t do that when he was younger, instead taking advantage of the rare moment of freedom to run around like a mad fiend or chase after something he spied in the darkness. He’s 2 years old now and much more obedient, which is why I always take care to show my appreciation for his good behavior by letting him in and giving him a treat.
At that point, I lock up the door and return to my desk. Duncan is relieved, and I am refreshed.