This morning, at the dreadfully early hour of eleven, my alarm went off. I slouched out of bed and shambled to the toilet and commenced to enjoy my morning pee.
This was when the dog whimpered.
I turned my head and observed a small little dog shivering in the hall. This came as something of a shock, as I do not own a dog.
“Hello?” I called out, in case there were any unexpected human guests nearby, though I was hoping not, what with my still being on the toilet. No humans answered. I successfully voided the remnants of the previous night’s chai and coffee, and then stood to greet my visitor.
She was a shrimpy little dog, larger than a chihuahua but not by much. Terrier, I decided, casting back to the end notes in a graphic novel I’d read a month ago, Beasts of Burden. My knowledge of dog breeds is shaky, but one of the dogs in this book had been a terrier, and it looked mostly like the wee beastie in front of me, small and not very intimidating unless you happen to be a dimwitted rat in particularly poor health.
Wolves and dogs share a common ancestor, but in the case of this little animal you must look very, very, very far back on the family tree and not stop till you find a malnourished pre-wolf, and even then, you’d better make sure the ecological niche you’ve landed in is sympathetic to soulful eyes rather than, say, cunning or size or intelligence.
“How’d you get in here, sweetheart?” I asked. She whimpered at me.
Goblin and Gremlin were lazing about in the living room, supremely unconcerned by the intruder. Bubby was nowhere to be seen. Hiding behind the stove, probably, but…
“You’re not a transmogrified dog-version of my Bubby, are you?” I asked the dog. She neither confirmed nor denied, just trembled a bit. This might be a sign of guilt in some breeds but I’m pretty sure terriers tremble as a matter of course.
I picked up the phone and called the (human, invited) guest who’d visited last night. Left a message (“You didn’t by any chance sneak a dog into my apartment, did you? Uh, call me back if you did.”) Then I put on pajama bottoms and an ancient shirt I wear about the house and a long coat that mostly disguised the pajama bottoms and the ancient shirt. It did nothing to disguise the unbrushed teeth or the tousled hair but at least I had a nice empty bladder.
I hoisted the doggie into my arms. We got to the door– locked, of course– and ventured outside and down the steps. As I made my way to the management office of the apartment complex, one of the groundskeepers– I think his name is Wayne– walked up the sidewalk and addressed me: “I’ve got the owner of the dog right here!”
Which was a bit of a liberal interpretation. Wayne was accompanied by the dogsitter, not the dog-owner. She was an elderly woman who was minding Cricket the Terrier while the owner finished moving into the apartment across the hall from me. Best as I can figure, Cricket slipped out sometime last night. Then, confused at her new surroundings and feeling all cold in the chilly evening, she ducked unnoticed into my apartment, either at 2:30 or 3:00. She laid low till I went to sleep at a nice reasonable 4:30, but ventured to make herself known when I woke at eleven, perhaps because the dry cat fud in the kitchen did not suit her palate.
Plus I finally saw Bubby emerge from behind the stove when I arrived home at 9:30 in the evening, so I can confidently dismiss the possibility of his having transformed into a dog.
Well. This will give me a conversation opener when I get around to meeting the new human neighbors. I do hope that Cricket will announce herself next time she visits, though.