Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hello, Nature Calling

Being born a Jack-A-Bee (Beagle/Jack Russell mix), Bernie is not lacking in quirks. If laughter is the best medicine, my husband and I are quite healthy, as not a day goes by that we have not chuckled at something she has done.

Going outside for nature's call has produced a series of very funny behaviors. When it's a simple matter of watering the grass, Bernie will usually stand at the door staring at it, nose pointed upwards, willing it to open; or she just stares at me "loudly" like Eddie on Frasier—that "Jack Russell stare"—making a hoarse whispering sound (her "inside voice", which I am now sorry I taught her) until I let her out. It's a comical, albeit annoying sound and always yields the desired result.

When she really means business it is quite another scenario and, frankly, an odd routine. Because of the coyotes which frequent our rural area, we do not let her out at night alone. In the winter it can be an especially long and uncomfortable experience.

When Bernie feels the urge, she wanders into my office and remains for approximately 30 seconds. We have no idea what actually happens in there, and have never been able to catch her in time to discover that. She suddenly runs through the beads hanging at the office door, full speed ahead, their wooden clacking startling all, and stares at us with that "IT'S COMING!" look of horror on her face—the same look that used to be on my children's faces when they were newly potty-trained toddlers.

Once outside one would think that, being such an emergency, she would get to it. But Bernie must slowly—walk—the—grounds sniffing every blade of grass to see who might have recently used her bathroom. She stands still as a statue, listening, smelling the air. When she finally gets around to the job at hand, of course she must find the perfect spot. She sniffs, scratches, circles around, then, finally the stance. But is that spot good enough? Off she goes again, sniffing and scratching. Just when I think it's all about to happen she gets in position and then decides that's not the right spot after all. So, in mid-squat, she scoots across the grass looking like a hunchbacked kangaroo, sniffing, resting, scratching, hopping on her two back legs to the next patch of grass and finally takes care of the business at hand. Then, with the same urgency as before, she begins barking like a mad dog, as if I had left her out too long: Hey! I'm done here and I'm cold! Let's go inside and get my good dog treat!