Jon de Vos: On the lookout for nothing
November 5, 2009
My wife and I have two dogs, Incorrigible and Stinky. Those are adjectives, not their names. Their actual names are Cuervo and Freeta Goodhome.
Cuervo is a 10-year-old Bulgarian Weasel Hound. Freeta is a 5-year-old Basset Hound. In fairness, I should point out that the wife and I are not strict disciplinarians, figuring it’s good enough if they don’t steal the silverware or mug the UPS guy.
In our house, it’s a question of learning your place. We are not allowed up on the couch, for instance. Should we be so bold as to lay down there, both of them will climb right up on top of us and stare until we go off and balance the checkbook or something.
We’re not allowed on the couch because that’s where the dogs sleep all day. They need their rest to be on the top of their game in case Nothing Happens.
Whenever nothing happens, the Weasel Hound is usually the first to know, opening his eyes with a start. The breeze from his lashes is usually enough to make the Basset jump straight up in fear that nothing was downstairs eating her biscuits.
Startled in response to nothing at all, the Weasel Hound leaps for my head in hopes of being the first to alert us to the fact that no one had broken into the house and there were no intruders creeping up the stairs while we were unable to sleep, pulling the pillows over our heads to protect ourselves and to drown out the thunderous noise. Much of the noise is caused by the anguished and angry cries of our neighbors but with protective pillows over our heads, what’s to hear?
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Our dogs live in some alternate universe. At night they can see things that no one else can. Cuervo’s not really a Bulgarian Weasel Hound; we just made that up to help him with his self-esteem. He’s actually in that class of breed formally known as “a yapper.” The yapper, scientists suspect, can see things that aren’t there.
The other night for instance, about three in the morning there was apparently some sort of non-existent threat in the backyard. With a yapper’s keenly developed sense of idiocy, Cuervo decided that it was time to alert the world that nothing was about to descend upon the neighborhood.
Warning the world that there is no impending doom is serious business, requiring a lack of brains and an ear-piercing bark, both traits the weasel hound has in abundance. Because they have slept all day and snored through Letterman, come midnight they turn into fireballs of energy, alert to potential dangers no human can sense.
When it comes to observing imperceptible dangers, Cuervo knows that the best view is out the window at the head of our bed. Because he is short, he cannot see out the window without standing on my head. Customarily at three in the morning, I am deep into the medical condition clinically known as “asleep,” a condition difficult to sustain with a barking dog hopping on your head.
On the other hand, it’s good to know first-hand that nothing is out there, nothing is happening and that uncountable non-events aren’t going on all around us. There are no burglars downstairs, no one is breaking into the car, no serial killers are checking us out and no Toms are peeping in the windows. The list of things that are not going on is endless.
Just like his yapping.
– Willard, Jon de Vos’ pet rat who writes this column, would be interested in trading either of his dogs for a nice wedge of Limburger cheese. Make offers to email@example.com
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