Today’s high is supposed to be sixty-seven degrees and tonight’s low is expected to be twenty-eight degrees, with that cold front moving in quickly and early this afternoon. Not only does that sound like the huge temperature swing that it is, but that difference makes it prime tornado weather for this part of the country. Since the news posted those temps about two hours ago, people in my area started wondering aloud if their tornado kits were up to date and if they should start heading to their tornado safe places.
Then, not an hour later, the official warning was issued that indeed a tornado had been spotted. Sure enough, within minutes of my hearing the tornado warning, my dog that hates thunder barked from the front yard, warning me that there were scary things out there. When I opened the door to let her in, she streaked past me, nearly knocking me down in the doorway. Poor dog, she is so frightened of thunder that she shakes like a bowl of jello set on top of a running food processor.
We have tried doggie valium, talking to her in a stern manner, and cajoling her in a soft tone. Nothing works for dogs like her. There is just no remedy for these poor animals that are frightened of thunder.
And so, my dog lives in the shower. Yes, my eighty-five pound dog lives in my bathtub, poor thing.
I do not make her live there. I have never even made her get in there for anything other than her bath. But its cave-like shelter is comforting, apparently, and not just from thunder. When she is feeling stressed, or crowded, hears a loud car going by, when she hears anything at all that resembles the possibility of thunder (like dropping the remote control onto the floor), or something traumatically scary happens (like when I vacuum), she heads for the bathtub and stays there.
We had a house guest visiting over Thanksgiving that had never been here before. He knew about our dogs but had never met them and had never been to our home. We walked him through the house and gave him a tour, pointing out things he would need to know as a house guest, like the cabinet where drinking glasses were kept, where all the snacks were in case he got hungry, and the linen closet in the bathroom. When we turned to leave the bathroom, movement in the bathtub caught his eye, and he was told, “Oh, and that’s Mattie. She likes it in the bathtub so we just let her stay there.” His eyes got big and you could tell that he thought it was strange, but being the gracious guest that he is, he let it go.
Later that night he went into the bathroom. While indisposed, he saw movement and looked over to see Mattie blinking at him. Staring. And staring. He later said that she just stared at him the whole time that he was in there, and when he moved toward the door to leave, she blinked as if to say “Goodnight.” He turned off the light and left.
Let me describe our poor Mattie to you. She is a dark blond dog of unknown pedigree: some people think she is part Great Pyrennees and Gold Retriever. We are not sure because we rescued her from a shelter. She has the very sweet temperament of a Gold Retriever, but she has black spots on her tongue, black fingernails, and mean eyebrows. Really: they look like someone drew them on with a pencil in a downward slant toward her nose so that she always looks mean or angry. Like in a cartoon. She is anything but mean or angry. She is a very sweet dog and loves to play with other dogs, cats, and people. She just LOOKS mean.
Our home does not have a basement for safety in case of a tornado. Our safe place has to be in an interior small room, preferably in a bathtub. Which means the bathtub that Mattie is always in.
You should have seen it the day that a tornado was actually ripping through our town and I really had to get into my safe place quickly. I tried to get our other dog, my purse, and me into that bathtub! Mattie looked at us like we were inconveniencing her: she would not sit up and let all of us in. It’s very difficult to get an eighty-five pound dog out of a laying position if she does not want to move! The other dog ended up just sitting on top of her and I was sitting with my knees drawn up, feet pushing against Mattie to make some room. She would have none of that and actually HUFFED at me, as dogs do.
We have actually taken to calling it “Mattie’s room” when we refer to that bathroom. As in: “I put the new towels in Mattie’s room.” Or: “Have you seen Mattie?” “She’s in her room.”
It’s nothing to walk by that room and hear someone in there, seemingly talking to themselves loud enough to be heard outside that room. They aren’t talking to themselves, they are talking to Mattie.
Sometimes when you go in there and flick on the light (being an internal room, there is no window), she blinks with sleepy eyes at you and I even feel bad, sometimes, that I woke her up!
Yesterday, she wanted in the bathtub but would not get in because I had inadvertently closed the shower curtain after cleaning the tub. She stood in the bathroom doorway, glaring out the door, until my husband, passing by, looked over, followed her into the room, and opened the curtain for her.
Today, as the tornado warning was announced, I took some dog leashes and my purse and put them into the tub just in case I had to make a run for it. She looked over at those items I placed in there and took a deep, resigned breath, as if to say, “Alright, if you must put something in here, I’ll let you.” She huffed out that breath, and then stretched out so that she was laying the full length of the tub and pushed my things to one end. Then she looked over at me, and blinked.
I think she was saying, “You can put them in here, but that doesn’t mean I have to give them any room.” I hope I don’t have to run in and join her in there, because I think she is going to make me fit in the space that she assigned to my purse.
Copyright © 2011, Maura White. All rights reserved.