A scratching noise under the sofa wakes me up.
Zack is sunburnt and was up until 2am making sure I knew how miserable he was. Now that he was finally quiet I wasn’t going to let the puppy wake him up.
I shine my iphone towards the noise and see her white-tipped stiff tail sticking out from under the part of a blanket that his hanging towards the floor.
What do you have there? I fish around under the sofa and find a cup, an empty cup. Awesome. I pull it out and keep it out of her range as she jumps and twists and tries to get her prize from me.
I offer her this, then that, but nothing is calming her down.
She clearly wants an adventure and all the sudden I see no reason to not indulge her.
Well before 6am the two of us walk outside under the partially full, waning moon. A few bright stars pepper the inky sky behind fat white clouds. A breeze comes down from the trees and sends us happily on our way.
Within minutes I am transfixed by the chattering of birds (and squirrels?) as they wake up in their nests and (I imagine) tweet out in bird lingo something like -- MOM MOM I’M HUNGRY MOM MOM I’M HUNGRY MOM SHE’S PECKING ME HE’S STEPPING ON MY WING MOM MOM MOM THAT'S THE WRONG WORM MOM OHHHH I’M HUNGRRRRY MOM
I wish them all good luck.
The next thing I notice is that silent houses come alive as we walk by, as though my puppy’s presence is triggering dog alarms causing all the other dogs to wake up and bark at their groggy owners demanding food and or freedom. Good luck to all of them as well.
Just as we pass a darkened lot my happy curious puppy freezes.
This isn’t like her so I keep walking, scanning in front of me as best as I can.
There is a solid, still fur lump on the grass ahead.
Since we are in North Florida and since my coffee has already kicked in, I allow myself several guesses.
It could be an armadillo (no, too furry).
A raccoon (no, too calm and regal).
A baby deer (no, too round).
A new species of dog eating fluffy rattlesnake (hope not).
A tiny baby bear cub (oh wait, please don’t let Mama bear be behind me) or a cat.
I take another step towards it, then another.
It seems dead or injured in its supernatural stillness.
I take another step and in the twilight I'm almost definitely sure that I make out triangle ears and a puff of a tail.
Hello Mr. Cat, I say in my friendliest pre-dawn voice while my puppy tries to get closer to the cat, hoping to make a new friend.
The cat maintains his silent pose, not threatened by us and in no hurry to even show he notices us.
I recognize the gaze – he’s judging us. I don't have time for that.
I pull my puppy away and we scamper up the hill and around the corner and back home where the puppy falls asleep and I slip out to work before anyone can stop me.