I am dog-sitting again this summer. My sister teaches school, so every year for the past three years, as soon as school breaks for the summer, she heads to Germany to spend several weeks with her daughter, whose husband is in the Air Force, stationed at Ramstein. Her dog Mattie spends the summer here with me.
Mattie has been around a long time, about 15 years. We're not sure because she was rescued and all dates are estimated. My niece and her husband were stationed in Altus, OK at the time. Their neighbor found Mattie and her sister, stranded on the median of the highway, wet, shivering and scared. He brought them both home and kept one; my niece took the other. Eventually, because of frequent moves in the Air Force, Mattie came to live with my sister and her son, Michael. Michael adores Mattie and he is "her boy."
Mattie is almost deaf now. She still hears a few things, but most of the time we communicate with hand signals. She can hear my dogs bark though, and sometimes she joins in, something she never does at home. She was the origin of my "Camp for Dogs" stories, because she came to my house and got to do all kind of things she wasn't allowed to do at home. It was a little like going to summer camp. But the majority of Mattie's days (and nights) are spent like this:
Last week, however, Mattie had a big adventure. It started about 2:00am one morning. Scott had stayed up late, as usual, and as was his routine, he let the dogs out one more time before coming to bed. Ruffles and Lucy eagerly anticipate this every night and run to the back door as soon as they hear him walking across the house. Mattie and I usually sleep through this process. On this night Ruffles and Lucy spot their dreaded enemy, the armadillo, on the porch, right outside the door. They go ballistic and Scott lets them out. They chase the poor creature all over the porch, with Ruffles snarling and trying to bite it, which she can't do. Armadillo remember? They make so much noise that finally even stone deaf Mattie wakes up and comes to the door to see what is going on. (Of course, I am sleeping through all of this thanks to Ambien.) Just as Mattie starts outside, the armadillo tries to make a break for freedom and heads for the same door. Mattie and the 'dillo collide and then her warrior instincts kick in. She starts snarling and barking and trying to bite the enemy, just like Ruffles. Lucy, as always, stands about three feet back from the fight, barking really loud. ("It's Shake and Bake and I helped!") Finally the 'dillo finds a gap in the fence that lines my flower beds big enough for escape but the dogs won't fit. They have to go down the steps, which gives the 'dillo just enough head start to get to the big fence and out of the yard. No harm, no foul.
When Scott finally manages to get all three dogs back inside, it's like the locker room at a winning football game. They are running around, excited, licking each other and barking. It's as if they are saying, "Wasn't that great? Did you see it when I barked real loud and then went for the neck? Wow, we ARE warriors."
Now every time they go outside, they head straight for the fence to see if the enemy has returned. Even Mattie joins in. Being a wily old veteran, her usual routine was to go outside, quickly do her business and then rush back in so she could be the first one to get the "cookie" reward. But her warrior blood is up and she must now go on patrol with the pack. The rest of the time she and Ruffles, who have now bonded over their battle, look like this:
And Lucy? Well, she considers it her job to be ever vigilant and sound the alarm. She is always watching . . . .