Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Doghouse

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on November 29, 2015 

If we were smart and wanted to get creative on our taxes we could probably call ourselves a farm and use our two dogs as “cattle” and write off their food bill. Bolt is our four-year-old German Shepherd. Hero is a not-quite-eight-month-old Husky and Great Pyrenees mix. Bolt weighs in at about 80 pounds. Hero is the size of a 1982 Buick Riviera. We don’t typically worry about anyone messing around our place because the sheer size of the dogs is enough to deter even the most dedicated burglar. Bolt has run more than one person back to their vehicle and a poor unsuspecting dump truck driver who only wanted directions refused to get out of his truck no matter how many times I assured him I had Bolt by the collar.

But poor Bolt has a problem; Bolt is claustrophobic. Poor fella cannot handle small spaces or anything that has a roof any closer than four feet from the top of his head. This strange dog has been this way his entire life. He will lie out IN the snow before he’ll go into a dog house or shelter. He’ll lie under the cars in the summer, but only if his head sticks out. Last winter Paul retrofitted a doghouse that was left here by the previous occupants and opened the entire front of the shelter for him. He did pitifully go inside eventually, but whined the whole time he was in it. I’m not sure he ever even slept while he was in it he was so tense.

Last week Paul decided to build the dogs a big, open doghouse for the upcoming winter. Seeing as how they are huge, it was going to be a BIG dang doghouse. Since Sam is his usual right-hand man for projects but he has vo-tech in the mornings, I volunteered to help. A big project needs a helper, right?  Now, y’all might have figured out by now that my Paul isn’t a talker. For 23 years now our relationship has consisted of me chattering and asking questions and him grunting occasionally or spitting tobacco in order to answer with a one word reply. The building of the doghouse was no different.

“Can I help?” was met with “Ayuh” or “Nah”. Mostly “Nah.”

“Here, let me hold that!” got a head shake followed by a spit then “I got it.”

“Do you need my help?” was answered with, “Not really. Don’t you have something else you could be doing? Something out of my shop?”

“Oh, you dropped your pencil. Let me get that for you!” On that one he just sighed. After he spit.

I eventually decided to clean the shop. I organized some drill bits. Tsk’ed at his lack of organization and told him that come spring I am taking my label maker out there for some serious rearranging and identifying. I threw away a lot of stuff – like 47 empty spray paint cans (What on earth has he been painting??), 13 empty dog food bags, some rusty screws and bolts, and a Sawzall blade that was bent almost 90° and was missing over 80% of the teeth. I squealed every time a cricket jumped at me even though I tried hard not to. I sneezed a lot. I hummed. I chatted happily while he worked, not caring that it was completely one-sided.

I was happy to be out there with him. I wasn’t sure he’d say the same thing when it was all said and done, but later, after the dog house was completed and the boys had placed it on the south side of the shop out of the wind, he kissed me and said, “Thanks for your help today, dear.”

Oh! Be still my heart! He loves spending time with me and apparently thinks I am a GREAT helper! I have SO many projects in mind for this winter! He’ll be thrilled!     

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