My dogs kept barking one night in spite of my frequent shouts at them to quiet down and go to sleep. The noise the dogs were making was the kind they make if a stray dog or stray person is around. When coyotes yap and howl, my dogs pretend that they are coyotes, too. They do their very best to sound exactly like their wild relatives. They make such a racket that how in the world do they know that suddenly the coyotes have stopped making remarks? But they know. Complete silence comes like the snap of a finger.
When the ordinary barking resumed that night, I tried to sleep. But finally, at 3 a.m., it occurred to me that perhaps I'd left one of my dogs outside - probably little Oso - though the sound of the voice did not sound like his. Anyway, I heard frantic whining and scratching at the front door. Getting myself up, I opened the door and in walked a stranger. She was cold, not wellfed, grateful, and hungry. She appeared to be more of a Labrador retriever than any other breed. As she ate and kept eating, my dogs explored with their sense of smell in an effort to discover who she was, where she came from, how long she planned to be our guest.
But that was not the great mystery. The front garden is well fenced against my dogs, who enjoy trampling flowers. How did this dog get into a well-fenced yard, how did she know which door was the right one to use for an entrance? She knew there are five doors along the porch, all leading into the house. How did she know which one was correct?
When things settled down enough I went back to bed, leaving my door open in case there might be some dog or cat disturbance in the house.
Later I felt something soft breathing into my ear. Then I felt my face being washed, very gently. I heard a sigh of complete contentment and happiness and knew that, without intending any such happening I was owned by an extra dog; she was here to stay, and I loved her.
Of course I made some attempts to find her former owner, but with no affirmative response.
Spring came, overflowing with young grass, wildflowers, and ponds. The new dog, who appeared as if her name should be Cindy, loved spring. She and the horse-sized Afghan, Macho, got it firmly in their heads that I was not getting enough exercise and it was time they took me for a walk. When I sat down on a sun-warmed rock to rest, they made it clear to me that I should be chasing rabbits and squirrels. I hadn't the slightest desire to disturb any kind of wildlife, but the dogs could not understand such nonsense and they kept coming back to peer at me through the sagebrush and urge me to get up and get going, that I needed a good run. Perhaps when the good hot days of summer come, the dogs will let me have a little rest, since heat does not make them enthusiastic about running after rabbits or insisting that I get my run.
But there is always the possibility that I could be mistaken about this.