I felt the bed shake and heard the light whimpers in between the wife and I.
"The dogs have to go out," the wife muttered to me, "again."
"And it's your turn."
I looked at the glowing numbers on the nearby DVD as I rolled to the side of the bed, slipping cold boots onto my bare feet, heelers delightedly bouncing up at my activity.
Four o'clock. AM. And this is their second out of the night. All the high-protein holiday food, as well as the stress of being at Grandma's house (and banished to the basement bedroom) has given them all the trots. A real fast turnaround from ingestion to ejection.
Now this wouldn't be too bad, but we're staying at my folks' house, which means we're in the home with the Boston terrier.
The shit-eating Boston terrier.
As in, every pile of doggie refuse that is deposited in the fenced back yard must immediately be scooped up and sealed in the dog poop trash can, lest the little black and white terror discover it and have a backyard snack. Which happened once years back when I just let the heelers out at night, intending to get up early to patrol and clean the yard... and failed to get up early enough.
So, to keep peace in the household, and recycled dog food out of the terrier's mouth (and off my mother's carpet, when the terrier's wiser stomach overrides the stupid brain and sets the digestive system on reverse), you must follow each heeler like a bloodhound, and retrieve the still steaming masses whilst you still remember where they were deposited.
New Yorker dog owners with their little scoops and poop bags have nothing on us, here.
But it's not an easy task when there are three heelers out at the same time, each trying to hide and protect her refuse from the weird fetishist with the broken-handled shovel.
And a flashlight. Let us not forget the flashlight, needed to spot the squatting heelers in the dark, cold yard. (And we did forget a flashlight on this trip, necessitating sneaking quietly (Ha!) upstairs and through the sliding stairway door (closed to prevent the heelers from killing the black and white bark monster) into the kitchen to retrieve the family flashlight).
Without waking said black and white bark monster.
Then, trying to silently work the three locks (this is an urban area) to get outside, with desperate heelers pushing against your legs (and the door, which has to open inside).
Now, once outside on grass, all three heelers immediately break into the pee position.
Which actually, now that the cold night air is scooting up your pajama legs, is a terribly envious position.
And then the games begin.
The mother, who eats the most and therefore has the greater desire to export some fecal matter, finally sneaks into a darkened part of the yard, lifts the tail, and gets her business done. All the while, her two daughters have trotted up to the back porch, and are waiting patiently by the door.
You mark the position of the mother as she does her business (in the shadow of the peach tree trunk, just past the flagstones), and reach for the handy shovel.
Then, as she dashes off to join her daughters, with a condescending look at you and your pooper scooper as she trots past, you click on the flashlight and head bravely into the grass to retrieve the steaming mass in the shadow just past the flagstones.
Depositing these fecal logs into the waste can requires crossing the driveway, out of sight of both the grass and the heelers. So when you return with the empty (and cleaned... you gotta clean the shovel off in the loose dirt in the alley, just over the chainlink fence by the cans) shovel, you find... two heelers on the porch.
Yep, the masked sister has snuck off into the dark lawn, hoping to go to the toilet in peace and privacy.
But, like a scatological pervert, you quickly snap on the flashlight and catch her in situ by the hedge. And mentally mark the location of your second collection of the night (or is 4 AM "morning"?).
Once she trots off, tail pumping in salute, you carefully scoop all of this goopy mess out of the grass, and again cross the driveway to knock it into the little can (this is, by the way, a real galvanized miniature of the classic trash can, complete with well-sealing lid that has to be pried opened whilst balancing the poop-filled spade at arm's reach). And again stretch across the fence to drive the spade into raw dirt to scrape it clean.
Coming back to find... two heelers on the porch.
Yes, the little maskless heeler is desperately trying to empty her bowels on the lawn before I can find her with the light beam, but fails. But just as happily bounds off to the porch once her task is complete, leaving me to go through the scoop-pry-dump-jam-and-scrape ritual yet a third time.
The heelers, of course, are thrilled to be heading noisily down the stairs as I try to quietly reset all three locks and sneak the flashlight back into the kitchen through the rumbly sliding door.
By the time I finally get back downstairs, having successfully outsnuck the black and white bark monster, and finally emptied my own shrunken, shivering bladder, I find... three contented yet grumpy heelers that have completely claimed my half of the hide-a-bed.
And the next night, we got to do it all again.
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