wild dogs, tame dogs

after a lifetime of poor circulation and cold extremities, i have reached that age when my body has turned into a furnace that burns around the clock. i used to sleep with a heavy duvet piled up around my head during the dog days of summer. these days, i sleep with my window cracked open in january. it’s pretty weird.

winter has been mild so far this year. we’ve only had a day or two when the temperatures were near zero (fahrenheit). mostly, we’ve been hovering just around freezing. we’ve also gotten very little snow. where it has been plowed, or on south-facing hillsides, there is bare ground. this is all fine with me. i am actually enjoying this winter. which is also pretty weird.

so it was that early this morning, through the half inch of open window next to my bed, when the waning moon was high in the sky, i was wakened by a mighty chorus of coyotes. one moment there was sleeping silence and next there was a glittering, shimmering wall of noise from the feral throats of dozens of dogs. i did a quick mental calculation of where all my livestock was, assured myself that the farm was safe, and let the waves of howling, yipping, and barking wash over me like a hymn from a massive pipe organ: long, loud sustained notes broken by the slightly dissonant melody, a melody that never really asserts itself, but rests on the heavy blanket of sound beneath.

i was just starting to drift off again, floating away on the wild lullaby, when bella heard them and started to bark her little head off. the coyotes could hear her, too. by ones and twos, they dropped out of their song until all was silent except for the min pin in the living room. and when it was silent, her barking transformed into a sorrowful lilt, a bark, a howl, a dog’s heart breaking to be wild.