Posts Tagged ‘fear of thunderstorms’

Liquid Dog

April 7, 2010

Flash is Long and Tall for a Border Collie

With a Face You Could Smooch All Day

It was a humid, stormy night.  I got home late from teaching a class.  My wife was away for the summer so it was dark and quiet when I entered the house.  I was sticky with sweat and exhausted from a long day.  I couldn’t wait for the dogs to lick my cheeks.  Through my glass front door I saw the familiar black shape of my Husky-Shepherd, Eli, curled on his bed in the foyer.  I turned the key and walked in with a smile.  Eli got up and stretched in my direction, ears pinned back, slow circle wags – oh, he melts my heart.

By now my second dog, Flash, the Border Collie would have rushed down the stairs in a frenzy.  His full body wag usually met me at the door.  Then I saw a flash of lightning out the window and remembered he would be hiding because of the storm.  I called his name to coax him out lovingly,  “Fla-ash.”  Then again, “Fla-aa-ash.”

No response.  Sometimes if there was really loud thunder, he would stay in the closet in our bedroom.  So I went up to find him.  “Fla-ash.”

Huh.  I should have at least heard his thumping tail by now.  He usually bangs it against the floor whenever I come near.  I poked my head in the closet.  Didn’t see him.  Turned on the light.  No dog.

Suddenly my heart rate picked up.  Why was I nervous?  He’s here somewhere.  Could the dog walker have lost him while hiking in the park?  Have I even looked at my phone today?   I quickly pulled out my cell to see if I missed any messages or texts.  Nothing.

Wait. Maybe he shoved himself under the bed.  He’s a big Border Collie, 50 pounds and tall, but he could get into a tight spot when he wanted.  In order to fit under our bed he would lie down flat on his side, cheek flush against the floor, and then scoot sideward in little thrusts, partnering with gravity in a way that only animals can.  Without lifting his shoulders or rump an inch higher than needed, he squeezes under the bed frame, then doesn’t move for hours.

But when he’s under there I usually hear his tail thump the wooden floors.  “Thwack, thwack, thwack,” I heard in my mind.  But in reality there was no thwack,  just the sound of thunder outside, rain on the roof.  I bent over and lifted the bed skirt.  I saw some old boxes, a forgotten sock and a lot of furballs.  No dog.  I knew it.  I would’ve heard his tail if he were under there.

I did a quick check of all the rooms.  The office – no one there.  The second bedroom – no.  Could he have gone in the bathtub?  I ripped open the shower curtain.  Empty tub.

Oh no. Maybe the walker left him out in the yard by accident.  My feet pounded quickly down the stairs and ran to the back door.  I threw it open.  Rain hit my face.  “Flaaa-aaash?”

My eyes darted to the corners of the yard, looking frantically for black-and-white.  Nothing.  I knew if he was out here he would be shaking and staying put, huddled into a corner or under something, so I went out in the storm and checked his favorite hiding spots.  He was not in the corner behind the bench.  I lifted the lawn chairs.  Nothing.  I hurried back in.

When I got in the house I wiped my face and took a deep breath.  Could he have been left in the yard and then stolen?  Nooooo.  Stop.

Was my trusted dog walker actually an undercover Border-Collie thief and exporter, taking weeks to woo me into comfort then shipping Flash off to a master camp for herding breed champions?  No – that’s not it.  I once took Flash for a test of his herding instinct.  With live sheep.  We cut him loose in the pen and he took one look at the sheep before lowering his head, tucking his tail, and proceeding straight to the corner where he tried to look as invisible as possible.  The sheep herded him.

But where was he herded to now?  This was too weird.  He has to be here.  I opened the basement door even though logic told me it was always locked.  I jumped down the stairs, skipping steps.  “Flash?”  “Flaash?”

I scanned the whole basement and saw nothing.  Another deep breath.  Why wasn’t he trying to find me?  Why wasn’t I hearing his tail?

Time to re-check every room, every inch.

I went back upstairs.  Turned on all the lights in the office and then I saw him.  He was wedged into an impossible space that had no access.  He was tangled in every type of cord and wire you could imagine.  He was behind the computer desk but he might as well have been stuck in a thicket of thorn bushes.  He gave me a look like, “yeah, I’m not too happy about it either.”

I sighed.  I was glad to see him.  “Oh, Flash,” I said lovingly, “What the hell were you thinking?”

You weren’t thinking.  You were just reacting.  That’s what animals do.  That’s why I love them.

I turned off the surge protectors and started unplugging everything.  I was going to have to untangle the cords to every device in the office and then re-plug them back in.  And I was going to have to find a way to block access to this spot in the future.

“You nut,” I said, as he licked the sweat off my cheek.


When I first adopted Flash, Lillie of Glen Highland Farm had given me a word of advice.  As I put him in the back seat of our car and shut the door she warned, “Border Collies are known to dart through the slightest openings, so be very careful whenever you open the car to let him out.”  That was before he was a trained dog, of course.  But I remember the X-Men like ability she was describing.  And it held true.  My wife and I later came to call Flash the liquid dog.  He seemed to be able to pour his body into or through any space he wanted.

One time we were packing to go on a vacation.  You know how that is.  You get the big suitcase and throw it on the floor.  Then you start making piles of all things you need to bring.  We started loading our suitcase and then went into the bathroom to get the toiletries together.  When we came back in the room, guess who was all ready to come along on the trip…

The Liquid Dog Pours Again

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