My daughter and her family are moving to Orlando for the summer. Her husband, Bryant, drove a U-Haul up from Miami yesterday evening to drop off the first load. He brought along two dogs and left them with us.
Sedgewick and Shakespeare had spent most of the day in a bedroom. Annie and Bryant wanted to keep them out of the way during packing and loading operations. The trip from Miami to Orlando took around five hours. The cooped up dogs arrived at 11:30 in an anxious and unusually energetic state.
Bryant left quickly to find his air-b-n-b. He didn’t wish to possibly expose me to a South Florida dose of corona. He felt fine, but during the last few days he’d been interacting in Miami with folks at a U-Haul dealership, with movers, and with used car salesmen. His sudden departure from my house left the dogs feeling disoriented. They didn’t have time to get acclimated to their new digs in the company of their master.
The two ventured twice into our backyard to relieve themselves, sniff and explore. I sat with and petted them to offer a friendly welcome. I even invited them to join me in bed. But instead of settling down for the night, they stood on the carpet near the front door and whined. They appeared to be summoning Bryant’s return with high-pitched pleas.
Judy woke up and joined us. She offered greetings but failed to reassure them. We eventually herded them into my bedroom. I lay down. Judy shut the door behind them. I managed to fall asleep around 1 a.m. The agitated movement of two dogs in my bed woke me at four. Their harnesses jangled as they turned in nervous circles. I tried to ignore them but eventually turned on a light. I recognized Shakespeare’s intent gaze as his signal that a walk was required. I muttered, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Ten minutes later, I sat on the porch trying to retie my shoe while holding them back from bolting into darkness. I led them on a leash down the cross street nearest my house. They marked territory with abandon, set off a motion-detector light, and woke up a large dog. It took offense to interlopers rambling near its domain. I quickly turned and dragged my charges home. Baying accompanied us along the way. (Sorry, neighbors.)
The two finally settled down after we returned. I managed to fall back to sleep. Then a neighbor started his car motor. (He leaves for work at 5:30.) Shakespeare and Sedgewick kicked into watchdog mode, rushed to the front door carpet, and howled at the receding noise of the man’s car driving away.
The racket went on and on. Shakespeare eventually gave up and settled down on a sofa. Sedgewick continued to bark and whine. I finally coaxed Sedgewick to come back to my bedroom. I plopped him on my bed and crawled under the covers. He stirred and continued to whine.
I considered the possibility that three hours of sleep would be all I’d get for the night. I decided to meditate to ease my frustration. I sat on my bed with a pillow behind my back, closed my eyes, and began to follow my breath. As my mind calmed, so did Sedgewick. He curled in front of me on the bed and laid down his head. After twenty minutes, we both drowsed. We slept till morning.
Postscript: the next four days went more smoothly. We took two walks a day. They properly barked up delivery men who ventured onto the porch. They claimed habitual sitting sites on the sofas. They protected the yard from dogs fenced inside the neighbor’s yard. Sedgewick slept calmly through the night. Shakespeare offered companionship to Judy as she listened to audiobooks.
Annie, Bryant, and baby Ava came by on Monday morning to retrieve the dogs. Shakespeare gave Ava a lick on the cheek after he joined her in the car. Neither dog gave us a glance as their true owners’ car backed down the driveway.