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Under the Stars With My Dogs

March 6, 2022

To help welcome spring, I invite you to visit the farm to celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Saturday, March 12 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. You can reserve your spot here

At 1 a.m., I dragged myself out of bed, pulled on my robe, then pushed puppy Joy out of her bed. She flopped like a beanbag, half in and half out of her bed. I shoved her out of the dog bed, and she rolled over with her legs still curled underneath. Finally, with one more push, she stood, yawned, stretched, then looked at me like I was crazy. Flora, my older dog, was up and already waiting at the bedroom door.

How can two dogs be so different? If I think about going outside, Flora is eagerly waiting at the door. Younger Joy would rather stay in bed and, when nature calls in the middle of the night, prefers to use the indoor plumbing. By indoor plumbing, I mean a towel spread under the window with a layer of newspaper on top. (Not the Monitor! I would never subject this fine paper to such indignity.) To get her accustomed to going outside, I have to roust her out of bed before she decides it's time to go.

When I brought her here from the U.S. Virgin Islands in January, I sympathized with her. I tolerated her newspaper bathroom, but after two weeks, I decided it was time to convince Joy that doggy indoor plumbing was not a thing.

Three times a night, I'd send her outside. But she'd save it for the newspaper. My next scheme had two parts: training her to ring a bell signaling a desire to go outdoors while going outside with the little diva.

The bell-ringing had been suggested by farmworker Kathy, who said it worked with her pup. So I got one of those round bells that "ring for service" in a store or hotel. It dangled from a hanger Bruce installed next to the door.

Trek into the night

So in the middle of the night, I step into my boots, put on a wool hat, pull a coat over my bathrobe, and then ring the bell with Joy's paw. Flora, always eager for adventure, is first out the open door. Joy follows when I give her a gentle push from behind.

Flora has figured out the bell concept, but Joy has not. Or maybe she hasn't yet wanted to go outside?

Anyhow, once outside, all three of us stay out in the cold until Joy does her business. I'm usually not one to enjoy a 1 a.m. stroll, but each time I realize that freezing-wintery nights are enchanting.

The tops of a group of maple trees form a symmetrical fan of branches poking above the horizon. Lit from behind, their silhouettes look like the Shaker Tree of Life. On clear nights the moon and stars look motionless, but I'm reminded of eternal spinnings and orbiting because the heavens look different with each trip outside. Especially the moon, which is somewhere else each time. Without Route 106 traffic pounding by in the valley, the night is still, the quiet broken only by the hoot-hoot-hoot of an owl.

During one February "heatwave," the warm night air seemed to pull the scent of the earth out of the ground to let me know that spring is coming.

Joy is gradually coming around to preferred toilet habits while I wait and savor the night-time charms. Even though I've come to appreciate the beauty of our late-night outings, I'll be happy when Joy can make it through the night, and we both can enjoy our beds undisturbed. The moon and stars will have to do their best, unsupervised.

St. Patrick's Day Celebration

To help welcome spring, I invite you to visit the farm to celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Saturday, March 12 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. You can reserve your spot here


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