It seemed unusually dark the other morning as I took the dog out. I allowed that the weather forecast had predicted heavy morning fog and shrugged it off. My pre-coffee morning brain kicked in as we were half way around the block. If there were fog, how could I be seeing so many stars? The neighborhood was suspiciously quiet, although enough lights were on here and there to keep me in a state of uncertainty, not to mention denial.
I wanted to check my watch but I hadn't felt the need for that, or my glasses, as I dressed in the inky shadows of the bathroom. I prepare my morning-wear before I go to bed, in case there is a doggy emergency during the night and also to avoid waking anyone unnecessarily.
Visiting foster dogs have varying skills, but one universal talent seems to be the ability to detect any human movement or sound that might predict release from their garage sleeping area, no matter what time of night it might be. Abbey Rose is more reasonable than Boomer was but she heard me and whined and pawed at the door.
Slinkie, the cat, usually does just that when the day starts. She leaves the safety of our bedroom and slides downstairs to exit her cat door and wait until I remove the dog from the premises. This particular morning she was with me in the kitchen. Although I hadn't noticed her return to her dog-free routine, Abbey Rose noticed the instant I opened her door. Slinkie is fast and agile but was faced with the gates (unfolded portions of ferret play-pen)that hadn't been there a few minutes before. I had put them back in place across the stairs, to keep our daytime feline and canine worlds in a parallel harmony of separation. She is supposed to be on the other side. I had grabbed the dog, who was excited but not murderous. I didn't want her to start barking. Slinkie's tail was inflated to a point where she could almost hide behind it and she was looking at me with those big eyes waiting for my help to fix things. I was torn. I couldn't let go of Abbey or she would get to Slinkie before me, for sure. I couldn't remove the gates without bringing Abbey with me and further freaking out the cat. Remember that all this was taking place without benefit of any lighting other than the pool of light pollution that comes from our nearest street lamp. Silent and suspenseful as any Film Noir, our drama unfolded. Slinkie threw herself at the unexpected obstacle a few times, plopping reproachfully back down to her continued dilemma until she finally jiggled a space to slither through, and she was gone.
Abbey was thrilled with the performance and looking at me as if to say, "You planned all that, for me?" "Can we do it again?".
I leashed her up and headed out, feeling guilty to have upset the cat and because I couldn't help a snigger or two at the cartoon-like antics.
Our first walk of the day takes about fifteen minutes. It is a very functional outing. A solution to the problem of a back yard swimming pool that could drown an uninitiated foster dog; especially one who might be chasing a cat.
As we got back to the house it was clear that the morning was not breaking like it's supposed to, so I was not surprised to see the kitchen clock announcing for all the world that 5 a.m. had not yet been attained. I fed the dog, who still ranks this as one of her favorite morning schedules ever, and put myself back to bed for an hour, vowing to get to the bottom of the time-warp mystery once day had dawned, for real, although I was reasonably sure I could predict the identity of the culprit.
A couple of days prior to this we had had a problem with an electric burner that had tripped the breakers. The digital clock Radio on the French side of the bed had been blinking on and off through the prior two nights. 'He who paints late into the night" had come to bed long after me. I was aware of the lights being turned on and the cursing that accompanies having to co-ordinate the pressing of more than one button at a time, as the numbers jerk forwards or in reverse slowly, or at sudden warp speed.
It never occurred to me that the "French Time Bandit" would give up on his task before restoring his clock to an accurate time.