Dogs lead a nice life. You never see a dog with a wristwatch.
- George Carlin
We were going over crime reports in a recent meeting when somebody asked - a bit disbelievingly - "Who walks their dog at 3 in the morning?"
I quickly raised my hand.
"That would be me," I said. "About once every two weeks."
If you have a dog, you know what I mean.
There is something in the breed - barkus alotus - that yearns to see the stars, which, I point out, are particularly attractive on cold, clear nights.
My dog not only knows this, he is also clever about it - a cunning canine schemer of the first order.
For instance. he never goes to the side of the bed of the sleeping woman who buys him dog treats. No. He comes to me.
There he will sit and whimper - loud enough for me to hear, but not loud enough to disturb anyone else.
Startled from slumber and worried that bow-wow's bladder is feeling painful, I always awake with a start, stagger from the blankets, grab his leash and make my way down the hall, down the steps, through the darkened rooms, then out the front door hoping to provide him some relief.
Often it is a false alarm.
The dog doesn't seem to care.
He knows I have to make sure, so there I will sit on the front porch steps and watch him sniffing his way around the perimeter.
I will try to forget the cold by listening to the sound of the traffic on a distant highway. Sometimes I hear a train, creaking and clanking on tracks a mile away.
Then there are stars - I scan the sky for the constellations and remember when I was 10, lying in a rural backyard with a book and a flashlight and picking out the patterns.
I make a note to look up which planets are visible this time of year, but I always forget.
It is so cold.
When I can't stand it anymore, I will call the dog, then reel him in by his leash, returning inside to warmth and blankets.
I know full well that I will probably not get back to sleep tonight, as surely as I know such will not be a problem for the dog.
I also know something else. If we looked into it, I'm sure we'd find most of the great astronomical discoveries of the past few centuries were made by dog owners.