At 4 this morning, which is not a time I typically associate with morning, but more with middle-of-the-night, my dog Ash decided he needed to go outside. He communicates this to me by standing by my side of the bed and making a very slight whimpering noise, the kind of noise no one else can hear, particularly my charming husband, who keeps sleeping. But I, I always hear the whimpering of the Ash. I opened one eye and looked at him, which wasn’t easy in the dark, since he’s black and the room was, at 4 am, black, but I could make out two intent eyes looking at me and waiting for a response.
He only does this when he really needs to go out. He’s not a difficult dog otherwise, normally sleeping all night through like a rock, or a log, or some other inanimate object used to express the idea.
“All right, I’m coming,” I said, and I climbed out of the security of my comfortable bed and the two of us stumbled downstairs, me stumbling more than he, and I let him out into the backyard.
I don’t know what he does out there at 4 am, though I can guess, but the truth is, I don’t really care, as long as he’s quiet about it.
He came back to the door, I let him in, and we stumbled back up the stairs. I headed straight for bed, and had just gotten myself all comfy when Ash was there again, at the side of the bed, with a whimper, and I said, “Now what?”
He whimpered again. This isn’t rocket science, figuring out what a whimpering dog is saying. The only other thing it could be was the dragon in the bathroom.
The dragon in the bathroom is a perennial issue with Ash the Wonder Dog. During the daytime we refer to her as Honey, the Chow Golden Retriever who is also Ash’s best buddy, the older dog he doesn’t hesitate to jump on when he wants to play. But during the night, when she’s sleeping, or anytime she’s between him and something he wants, whether it’s water or a ball or me, she’s an immovable scary object.
“Okay, I’m coming,” I told him, and I climbed out of my, yes, comfortable bed and we walked into the bathroom so I could escort him past the sleeping dragon. Honey, the dragon, didn’t move. Now that she’s half deaf she doesn’t hear us approaching, which means I must be extra careful not to startle her. She doesn’t like being startled. Would you?
But we walked past her carefully, and she stirred enough to almost lift her head, but that was all. It’s not as if she cares if Ash wanders by and has some water. She’s pretty okay with him doing what he wants to do, but he still thinks that she really CARES and would object, even though she has never once attacked him for walking by her. Not once! Occasionally, just because she can, she’ll give out a tiny little growl, as if she would do more if she really cared, if she weren’t so darn lazy, and so he believes his concern is justified.
I do that with my own dragons. They don’t care if I walk by them to get to where I’m going, but I keep thinking they’re going to reach out and snap my head off, or cut me down to size (whatever that means) or somehow make me sorry I ever bothered. They’re not even fearsome dragons! But still, I let them control me.
After Ash drinks his fill I escort him back past the dragon, who has gone back to sleep, or at least seems to be unconcerned with the people and dogs traipsing past her.
I get back in my comfortable bed, and so does Ash, who decides to sleep on the extra pillow I keep above my head for him. He falls right to sleep while I ponder dragons, and how they mostly don’t care what we do. Yet we, or me in particular, for I don’t know your dragons, look at them as if they’re large immovable annoying objects, sent to bedevil me and stop my progress, here to stop me from doing whatever it is I want to do. All I really need to do is walk past the damn things and get on with it.
Ash needs an escort to get past his dragon. And I have escorts to get past mine. There are people who help me with my dragons, who guide me past them in ways I couldn’t imagine. Sometimes I’ll walk right past a dragon all on my own, because I’m learning that it’s possible and that my head won’t explode if I do.
I do try to avoid heads exploding at all times. It’s messy and irritates bystanders.
We all have dragons, though they often turn out to be no more than elderly furry half-deaf dogs who don’t care that we go tromping past them in the dark of night. Or something similar. We can get past them with the help of our friends, and we can get past them all on our own. We don’t need to slay the dragon, unless it’s breathing fire and ready to eat us, we can just walk past them on our way to somewhere else.