Photo from website of pethealthnetwork.com
We have been awakened during three nights in the past week by the baying of a hound.
The first time it happened a bit after midnight--just as we had welcomed that first deep sleep.
Another night the sound assaulted our open bedroom windows at around 2 A.M.
The hound's progress around the edge of the woods, down the lane and back up the ridge can be tracked by his ringing call: "Bor-ror-ror, Bor-ror-ror"--steady and monotonous as a metronome.
His route is close enough to the house that Jim or I usually stumble from bed, plod down the stairs to turn on the porch light, checking to make sure the outdoor cats are safe.
The hound was a bit off his schedule this Sunday morning.
I was awake at 4 A.M. struggling not to cough from the sore throat that has plagued me
for several days.
After a bit I crept to the bathroom for a drink of water, eased back onto my side of the king-size bed.
The cats resettled themselves at the foot of the bed, I tried to get comfortable.
Then, dimly, I heard the deep voice of the hound, coming down the trail through the woods beyond the stable.
I made no sound, but knew that Jim was now awake.
I felt the cats rise to attention, heard one of them thump onto the floor.
Jim was out of bed, parting the curtains at the window.
The grey wash of impending dawn flowed into the room.
I looked at the digital clock on Jim's dresser: 5: 15.
Jim reached for the shirt and jeans lying on the chair by the bed, dressing as he padded through to look out the bathroom window and then out the front window.
He returned, buttoning his shirt, headed for the stairs.
"Are you going after the dog?" I croaked.
"Not much chance of seeing him," Jim responded grimly.
I listened for a moment to his feet on the stairs, joined by the pell-mell descent of
the boy cats in his wake.
There seemed little point in trying for another hour of sleep.
Reluctantly I switched on the bedside lamp, pushed aside the quilt.
I fumbled my way into a pair of sweatpants, yanked a warm top over my head.
It was dark in the kitchen, but beyond the north-facing windows the shapes of trees, parked vehicles, the dark slope of the stable roof, were emerging from the mist-laden gloom.
I drew water, measured coffee, set the shiny pot on the electric burner, twitched the
knob to medium-high.
Beyond the front door Jim brushed wet grass from his shoes, conversed with the outdoor cats.
We poured coffee, moved to our respective desks which reside in the wide hallway which connects the kitchen area to the living room.
Jim grumbled morosely about the irresponsibility of dog owners; Launched unwillingly into my third day with a bout of laryngitis, I could only nod.
By 7 A. M. I had made the bed, tidied the bathroom, collected the laundry.
Passing through the kitchen, headed down to the washer and dryer on the ground floor, I looked through the window at the exact moment the hound trotted out of the woods beyond the stable.
He paused to sniff at the gravel drive.
"Hound!" I managed to force out the word.
At that moment the hound announced his return in ringing tones.
Jim was out the front door and firing up the 4 wheeler before I could make another sound.
I watched in fascination as he whirled around the end of the house, gravel spurting under the tires.
The hound seemed frozen in astonishment as the noisy machine headed his way, then he took flight.
I dashed to the porch in time to see the hound shoot under the garden fence and pound along the edge of the dry brook, Jim careening after him.
The cacophony of madly braying dog and snorting 4-wheeler faded as both disappeared at the bottom of the lane.
I brewed a cup of tea, added honey for my throat, collected a magazine and headed into the sunroom.
I sat huddled in the bedraggled wing chair, Teasel Cat on my lap, forcing tiny sips of scalding tea down my stinging throat.
I felt slightly discombobulated, catapulted into the day before I was ready.
It was perhaps half an hour before I heard the 4-wheeler roaring back up the lane.
The front door opened and shut, Jim strode through to the sunroom.
I gave him an inquiring look.
"Ann was out in her garden. I stopped to ask if she knew of the dog. She thinks it belongs to her brother-in-law and that he has turned it loose."
"Would you shoot it?" I rasped.
Jim had gone out capless, such hair as he has left was standing on end.
"You know I don't enjoy shooting an animal," he reminded me, "but that dog barking by the hour, night after night, is getting old. I was on his heels all the way down the pasture, half-tempted to run into him."
He swiped at his wild hair, grinned ruefully.
"I figured if I got close enough to give him a good bump, the ground was so rough I might flip the 4 wheeler. I hope I convinced him this isn't a good place to be. He dove into the culvert when we reached the road."
It is never, in these cases, merely the dog, although the poor witless creature becomes the focus of our exasperation. The real problem is always the owner of the dog [or dogs] who takes no heed for its where-abouts, has no consideration for the nuisance caused to neighbors.
On his outward swing around the ridge, the hound trots, baying, through the dooryard of our neighbors half a mile down the road. He lingers there each time long enough to pee on their porch. I suppose we should consider ourselves blessed that thus far our porch has not been anointed.
Rural neighborhoods face slightly different issues than those in the suburbs where each house is rigidly bounded by a fence or line of shrubbery. Offensive noise there is apt to come from the sound of traffic at all hours, or the blare of someone's music when a party goes on too late.
In the country we deal with livestock that has gotten out and about, tomcats who prowl, dogs left untended to nose about, overturning trash cans, barking and baying in the wee hours.
One can run short of patience, longing for a quiet night, instead jolted awake by the relentless baying of a roaming hound dog.
We wish his master would keep him at home.