Did you ever want to turn back time? I don't mean in a Cher, 1989, inappropriately-dressed, phallic-symbol-loaded, putting-Madonna-and-her-sex-book-to-shame, entertaining-the-7th-Fleet-video kind of way. I mean, did you ever do something, and then wish you could go back and not do it? You know there's a reason I'm asking, right?
Farmer H is off to France again. During his absence, the feeding of the critters falls on The Pony's withers. He assumed the yoke of responsibility like a good beast of burden last evening, and fed and watered and even brought the trash dumpster back down from the end of the driveway, where it had been cooling its wheels since trash pickup on Thursday morning at 6:45 a.m. And then he made an announcement.
"I think we can leave Jack out tonight."
Let the record show that we have been leaving Puppy Jack out all day, and putting him back in his hutch to sleep. The temperature was supposed to remain in the 80s last night. Jack knows how to get down the porch steps for peeing and pooping (not that he sees the need to do it every single time), and he does not fall off the edge much unless distracted by toy play.
"Are you sure? He might be scared. He won't feel secure. You need to put some cedar shavings in one of those big doghouses at the end of the porch, and show him. So he knows he can sleep in there."
"I always find him between the wall of my bedroom, and Juno's house. He likes that little space. He can sleep there. Or sometimes he sleeps by the fake dog on the front porch."
"What if he follows Juno during the night, and can't find his way back?"
"He will. He goes with her over to the BARn. He stays right with her."
"Well...I would hate for something to get him. But if a possum or dog comes up on the porch, we'll hear the commotion."
"Uh huh. He'll be fine."
The Pony and I watched a movie. Revenge of the Nerds. You know. Getting The Pony ready for college life. Then The Pony went to have a bath in the big tub, since Farmer H wasn't here to rush him so he could go to bed undisturbed at the stroke of 9:00. I stayed up watching TV, fiddling about with a project on my computer, dozing in the downstairs recliner. I did not hear any kerfuffles on the porch. I did not hear romping or bone-thumping or yelping. I went to bed around 2:00 a.m.
This morning at 7:00 I got up and responded to Farmer H's overseas texts. Even when he's not here, he makes sure I get up before I am ready. I put in some laundry and sat down to read for a while. At 9:30, I hollered to The Pony to get up.
"It's getting late. Jack needs to be fed. And Juno. I haven't heard Jack all night. I hope he's okay."
"Getting up. Jack is fine." The Pony plugged in his phone to charge, and declared that he had heard Jack all through the night. "I heard something tapping against my bedroom wall. It must have been Jack wagging his tail, unless it rained, and there was a bad leak there."
"You never put any cedar shavings in that house last night, did you?"
"No. But it's fine."
He went out to feed Jack. He soon came back inside and set the paper plate of canned puppy food on the back of the couch.
"Huh. I don't see Jack. Juno is on the front porch, but I don't see him. I'll go look in the end doghouses."
I saw him head that way. Then he came from the other direction, having made a lap around the porch, and down by the carport and garage. I saw him go down the steps. Look under the front porch. And head over toward Jack's hutch and the BARn. That was not a good omen. I started to whimper, I think. I've grown attached to that little dog. Now he was gone. GONE! What if something happened overnight? What if The Pony found his little body. NO! This couldn't be happening. What could I tell Farmer H? Who chose that moment to text me. I told him Jack was missing. No response. It takes a while for text to fly through the air to England, I suppose, where Farmer H had a layover of 12 hours waiting for his ride. Probably because England IS AN ISLAND, you know.
I walked around. Went to the bathroom. Put on my red Crocs in order to do something, like go look for Puppy Jack. And then I saw the most beautiful sight!
PUPPY JACK WAS GAMBOLING ACROSS THE FRONT YARD!
He ran a few feet, jumping like a rabbit, then stopped to turn and make sure The Pony was following. I hurried out to the porch for an impromptu lovefest. Wiggly Puppy Jack stood on his short hind legs, stretching out his long body to be picked up. Of course I had to scoop him up in my arms and sit down on the front porch pew to snuggle him like a baby. A furry, nipping baby who insisted on sticking his tongue in my mouth.
"I found him somewhere in the goat pen. I went in to look for him, and then he was at my feet. I was getting worried."
"Yeah. Me too."
I think The Pony was doubly worried, since he made the original decision. He is not used to making decisions. Like I told him on the way to school that last week before graduation, "Life will never be any easier for you than it is right now."